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Christian group welcomes 'brilliant' changes to foster care provision

Wed 04 Dec 2013
By Sarah McAllister

Children in foster care will be able to stay with their carers until they are 21 under a radical shake-up of the care system.

Home for Good - an organisation promoting adoption and fostering in the Christian community - is giving it's backing to government plans that will see young people able to stay with their carers until they're 21years-old.

The Department for Education says the change will mean youngsters can leave their foster families when they feel ready, rather than being forced to at the age of 18. Local authorities will receive £40 million over the next 3 years to put the support arrangements in place.

Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson, whose own family has fostered nearly 90 children, 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. Now all councils will have to follow their example, and we are giving them £40 million towards the cost."

Krish Kandiah is a Director of the Evangelical Alliance - one of the groups behind Home for Good - and has provided foster care for many years. He told Premier's Marcus Jones on the News Hour why he felt the changes are much needed.

Pauline Head is a foster carer with experience of children in her care reaching the age of 18. She said: "They found the year leading up to their 18th birthday stressful as they knew they weren't ready to move out.

"We were in the position to offer them the opportunity to stay for longer - which they did - however, this is not an option for all foster carers - because many rely on the money they receive from foster caring. This amendment will benefit a huge number of young adults."

Mr Timpson said the measure was part of a "wider package of support for care leavers", including greater financial support for young people leaving care at 18.

He added: "This will allow the 10,000 young people leaving stable and secure homes to make the transition from care to independence when they are ready, rather than when their council tells them to."

Government figures show children in care typically have much lower educational outcomes and are more likely to be out of education, work and training.

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