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Loughborough Research helps shape new Government policy on foster care

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Research from Loughborough University’s Centre for Child and Family Research (CCFR) has helped shape a new national policy for young people in foster care.

The Government announced yesterday (Wednesday 4 December) an amendment to the Children and Families Bill that will place a legal duty on local authorities to enable young people to stay in a foster placement post 18 years old. 

Previously local authorities funded the cost of foster placements until 18. Beyond this financial support for placements varied between local authorities, and young people were often required to leave their placement prior to their 18th birthday.   The new rules mean that young people in foster care in England will now be allowed to remain in their placement up until the age of 21.

Findings from a Loughborough University study into extending funding for foster care placements was used to argue for this change in law.

Researchers from CCFR carried out an evaluation of the Staying Put: 18 Plus Family Placement pilot, which gave young people the opportunity to remain with their carers until the age of 21.  The research found a range of benefits for young people, including the fact that it: 

  • Empowers young people and gives them greater control of the timing of their transition from care to independence;
  • Means that young people are not penalised by virtue of their care status; they are offered the opportunity to experience transitions that are more akin to those experienced by their peers in the general population;
  • Allows young people to remain in a nurturing family environment where they can mature and develop, prepare for independence, and receive on-going support; and
  • Offers continuity and stability to facilitate engagement in education, employment or training.

Financial support from the Government has been pledged to support the new policy, with £40m being set aside for local authorities over the next three years.

The CCFR evaluation was conducted by Emily Munro, Clare Lushey, Debi Maskell-Graham, Professor Harriet Ward and Lisa Holmes in collaboration with the National Care Advisory Service.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 13/226

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year title in 2008-09 and has been named Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times. Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and has been voted England's Best Student Experience for six years running in the Times Higher Education league. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

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Alison Barlow
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Loughborough University
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E: A.J.Barlow@lboro.ac.uk

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