Many churchgoers prepared to open their homes to teens in the care system - study

Supported lodging would provide emotional support and key life skills, says Home for Good.(Photo: Unsplash)

Nearly half of churchgoers would be prepared to open their home up to a teenager in the care system as part of a supported lodging scheme, a study has found.

Christian charity Home for Good said there was an "urgent" need to overhaul the care system, which is currently looking after over 80,000 children and young people across England, nearly a quarter of whom are aged 16 and over.

In supported lodgings, a family or individual will host a child aged 16 or over for around 18 to 24 months. 

In a new report, Home for Good says supported lodgings provide a financially viable and supportive environment for older teenagers to flourish and learn key life skills like cooking and budgeting.

Home for Good is advocating for more supported lodgings to take pressure off the "outdated" care system which is struggling with a shortfall in adults prepared to adopt or foster teenagers.

According to figures from the Christian charity, the number of children aged 16 and over in the care system rose by 39 per cent between 2010 and 2020, yet only 1 per cent of adoptions are of children over the age of 10.

At the same time, Home for Good said it was the case that adoption or fostering may not always be the best option for older teens seeking greater independence.

An accompanying study by Home for Good found that many Christians are open to becoming hosts.

The ComRes survey found that a quarter of the general public would consider becoming a supported lodging host, rising to nearly half among churchgoers.

Tania Bright, CEO of Home for Good, said: "With older teenagers now comprising a significant and growing proportion of children in the care system, it is vital that the system adapts to ensure these young people are offered the best chance to go on and reach their potential.

"As a former supported lodgings host, I have seen first-hand the challenges and joys that caring for a young person can bring, and our report today sets out the ways in which supported lodgings can provide holistic, relational support to young people that meets them where they are.

"We've heard so much about the poor quality provision that must be eliminated, but we also need to put forward solutions to provide alternatives. This report offers one such solution and makes a compelling case for greater use of this valuable provision."