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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.