Children to stay in care until 18
The Government today pledged to stamp out the poor practice of asking children to leave care at the age of 16, before they are ready to live independently.
Eleven pilot projects across the country, costing an estimated £6m over three years, will explore how best to plan care around the needs of young people and give them a greater say over whether they stay in care until they are 18, or move out into independent flats or hostels.
Kevin Brennan, Minister for Children and Families said:
"We want to transform the lives of children in care, improve their educational attainment and give them the same chance in life as other children. As part of this we want to see them given more choice about their placements and to be in charge of when they leave care.
"Not all children are ready to live independently at the age of 16 - especially if they want to do A levels and consider going to university. However, whatever their future plans we know that stable placements and good care planning around the needs of the young person leads to better outcomes such as a reduction in these young people becoming NEET (not in education, employment, or training) which benefits society as a whole."
Local Authorities taking part in the pilots are: Bournemouth, Barnet, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Merton, North Tyneside, Oxfordshire, South Gloucestershire, Plymouth, Tower Hamlets and Warwickshire.
The Right2bCared4 pilot programme was first proposed in Care Matters, the Government's Green Paper for children in care and then, after receiving overwhelming support, the pilot was confirmed in the White Paper, Care Matters: Time for Change. The programme will start in October 2007 and run for three years. Lessons learnt will then be shared with other local authorities to aid their planning for young people in care.
The amount of funding allocated to each authority varies according to factors such as the number of young people in care and the focus of each recommended pilot site. Some authorities are planning to allocate a significant amount of the funding to placement costs, whilst others are focussing more on the management and coordination of the care planning process for example by providing additional resources to support Independent Reviewing Officers and independent advocacy services.