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How successful has Staying Put been since it came into effect?

A year ago the Staying Put legislation came into force and changed things for thousands of young people in foster care throughout the UK. Young people are no longer required to leave their foster homes on their 18th birthday although challenges still remain.

August 18 2020 - 5 min read

Earlier this week we looked at what it was like for foster carers and young people in care prior to the Staying Put legislation. Today we look at how successful the new legislation has been since it came into effect….

A year ago the Staying Put legislation came into force and changed things for thousands of young people in foster care throughout the UK. Young people are no longer required to leave their foster homes on their 18th birthday although challenges still remain.

The changes to The Children Act 1989 were highly campaigned for, in order to give young people the chance to make the transition into an independent adult life whilst living in a stable and secure home, with the support of their foster carers. The aim was to alleviate the uncertainty and anxiety that young people felt when forced to leave their foster homes on or before their 18th birthdays. In December 2013, it was announced that from April 2014 care leavers would be given the choice to stay with their foster carers until they were 21 if they, and their carers, agreed. Local authorities now have a duty, under the Children and Families Act 2014, to provide financial support for every young person who wishes to stay with their foster carers until they are 21.

Holly Duran is a care leaver and one of the first to go through the Staying Put experience, “My staying put experience was not ideal. Local authorities need to deal with young people’s Staying Put pathway plans well before the individual involved nears 18. As soon as the pathway plan is implemented at 16, any staying put details should be sorted there and then to prevent such a dragged out and stressful process.

Foster carers have also voiced concerns over the challenges of offering young people the opportunity to Stay Put, largely regarding the loss of income. Local authorities must pay carers an allowance in order to cover the costs of the young adult living with them, although there are no particular national standards regarding the minimum allowance that carers are to receive with the Staying Put role in assisting the young person to take their steps into independence.

Jane Fuller, a foster carer at ISP Childcare wholly supports and agrees with the new legislation, although she questions whether it is properly funded and whether it may undermine all the good work currently in place to support carers. She comments, “Where will savings be made when faced with expenditure and an ever decreasing pot of money?” and predicts that the only alternative will be to look at cutting allowances for foster carers.

Sheila Patel, Principal Advisor for Foster Care and Respite Co-ordinator at ISP Childcare, comments, “Although this started out as a good idea at the time, we are now finding a lot of difficulties associated with it, particularly where some of our carers are concerned”. Having flagged their concerns, particularly on the loss of income, to the Fostering Network Committee, Sheila was advised that it would be best to wait until the new government was in power for the Fostering Network to then pursue financial support for Staying Put carers.

Although some uncertainty remains, the Government and local authorities must focus their efforts on working with IFPs to ensure that their priority continues to be offering the opportunity of Staying Put to every young person who wants to, and giving carers the required support to offer the chance for their young people to Stay Put. With the new majority government now in power, the future of Staying Put is in their hands.