Scotland have raised the stakes on care leaving

Posted by Kay Steven / Tuesday 07 January 2014 / Chance to stay Children in care

Yesterday’s announcement by the Scottish Government was a ground breaking one. They announced that from April 2015, young people in care will have a right to stay until the age of 21.

Only last month, it was announced that young people in foster care in England would be allowed to stay until 21. Scotland have trumped England, and the rest of the UK, by extending support for young people in all forms of care – not just foster care – which is why it’s ground breaking.

This is fantastic news for young people in care and I’m delighted that the Scottish Government is taking the lead on this important issue. We’ve been calling for the care leaving age to be extended for years and most recently we’ve been targeting the Welsh Government who have a chance to extend support to foster carers. With Scotland raising the bar, there’s still plenty to do to help young people in care across the UK..

Why is this important?

Most young people are no where near ready to leave home as a teenager. Sadly, many young people in care are forced to live independently at just 16 years old and we know it can be a dangerous and lonely experience.

The importance of having a place to call home; a safe environment; a chance to make mistakes; and a safe place to take risks, are all part of growing up. Most young people have family and friends they can fall back on if living independently doesn’t quite work. Sadly this isn’t often the case for young people leaving care.

“Young people shouldn’t have to fight for the basic things in life. It’s wrong that they have to act like adults when they are still children” - K, Care Leaver

Our recent research shows that providing support at this critical time for young people in care can have a profound impact on their lives and what that they can achieve as they move into adulthood. Simple things such as helping young people build long-term relationships and supporting them to secure safe and appropriate accommodation can go a long way.

Our study showed that giving young people in foster care a chance to stay would help decrease rates of unemployment, homelessness, poverty, mental health problems, unplanned pregnancies, youth offending, and financial instability.

One young care leaver told us: “It’s not really about how old I am, but whether I’ll be alright on my own”

This is why yesterday’s announcement, which applies to foster care, kinship care and residential care, in Scotland is so important. It remains to be seen how governments across the rest of the UK react. What do you think? 

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