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Foster children shouldn’t be forced to leave at 18

Release Date: 12 Dec 2012

Barnardo’s is calling for all foster children to be given the option to stay with their foster carers until they are 21.

Majority care leavers leave at 18

Only 18 out of 152 local authorities (12%) in England have care leavers who remained with their foster carers after their 18th birthday.

In stark contrast a YouGov poll on behalf of Barnardo's found only 5% of UK parents expected their children to leave home by 18, with more than a quarter (27 per cent) expecting them to be at least 26 and 64% expecting them to be at least 22 before they left home.  

What we want to happen

  • The UK Government keep its promises in the Care Leaver’s Charter for England:

We will work together with the services you need, including housing, benefits, colleges and universities, employment providers and health services to help you establish yourself as an independent individual.

  • All children in foster care being given the option to stay with their foster parents or in alternative foster care until 21.

Currently Staying Put a scheme that been piloted in a small number of local authorities is providing funding to enable young people in foster care to stay with their carers until they are 21. This model has been taken on by some local authorities for small number of young people in foster care outside of this pilot area.

Care leaver’s alone at Christmas

Barnardo’s spoke to 35 young care leavers it works with and only nine (26 per cent) will be spending Christmas with their parents or previous foster carers.

Others said they will be spending Christmas alone in a bed and breakfast, with their boyfriend or girlfriend or feeding the homeless with their support workers.

Chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said:

Young people in care are being forced to go it alone when they turn 18.

At Christmas time the impact of this abandonment is particularly poignant.

Why does the Government expect such vulnerable teenagers as these, many of whom have been neglected or abused as children, to start their journey into adulthood on their own and before they are ready?

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