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Fostered children to receive support past age 18

Young people in foster care will be allowed to remain with families until they are 21, under a new duty for councils to be announced today. Ministers will set aside £40m for local authorities over the next three years to put support arrangements in place.

Currently fostered children are funded by councils to stay in care until they are 18, with provision for young people over this age variable across the country.

The scheme originated with Labour’s Staying Put programme, which was piloted in 11 local authorities. Evaluation showed that those who stayed with families past the age of 18 were twice as likely to be in full time education at 19 as those who did not.

Education minister Edward Timpson said: “I know from the many foster children I grew up with how crucial it is for them to be given sufficient time to prepare for life after care.

“A growing number of local authorities already offer young people the choice to stay, but with little financial support it can be challenging for their foster families. This is a further reform to our much wider package of support for care leavers, including much greater financial support for young people leaving care at 18.”

David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “Councils are working to ensure everything possible is done so that children in care have access to the same opportunities and life chances as their peers.”

And Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, said: “This change in the law will make a massive difference to the lives of this and future generations of care leavers in England. This issue has, however, not been resolved for young people in Wales and Scotland. We will continue to campaign for this change in the law to be replicated.”

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