Extension of foster care age welcomed

PA

A church-based fostering and adoption campaign has welcomed a Government initiative to extend the age at which young people can remain in foster care.

Councils will be legally bound to provide financial support for those who wish to stay in their foster homes after their 18th birthday, until they reach the age of 21.

The Home for Good campaign is a joint initiative of the Evangelical Alliance, Care for the Family, and CCPAS.

The Evangelical Alliance's Dr Krish Kandiah, who is playing a lead role in the campaign, has firsthand experience of adopting children and providing foster care.

He has praised the Government's decision to drop the previous system in which he said children were essentially "chucked out" of their foster homes as soon as they reach 18.

"To expect looked-after children who will already have experienced trauma in their lives, to leave home at 18 is optimistic if not negligent," he says.

He argues that though many young people may be tempted by the lure of independent living, most are not ready to live on their own. Others fear a time when they will not have someone looking after them, and resort to desperate measures.

"As foster carers we have looked after many babies whose parents aged out of the care system at 17 and then immediately became pregnant so that they could access the help and services that they needed. Sadly for many of them their children were then taken into care themselves and the cycle continues on," Dr Kandiah says.

Pauline Head is a foster carer who has had experience of children under her care reaching the age of 18. Although she was able to offer those who didn't want to move out the opportunity to stay in her home for longer, this is not an option for many foster parents who rely on the income it brings.

She says some of her foster children "found the year leading up to their 18th birthday stressful as they knew they weren't ready to move out".

She has commended the amendment to the law, saying it will benefit "a huge number of young adults".

Home for Good is working with churches to encourage them to foster or adopt children. More than 20,000 Christians attended National Adoption Sunday services last month to learn more about fostering and adoption.

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