Are you thinking of ‘staying put’?

Did you know? Children looked after have a legal right to continue living with their foster carer beyond their 18th birthday if it’s best for them.

These arrangements are known as ‘staying put’, and were introduced by the Government in 2014. Somerset Children’s Services wants to encourage more carers to give a young person in placement the stability of ‘staying put’ into early adulthood.

Why? Until this change in 2014, children looked after would automatically leave care to move into independent living when they turned 18. Yet with the upsurge in 20-24 year olds in the UK living with their parents, (visual.ons.gov.uk/living-with-parents/) – and children leaving care being one of society’s most vulnerable cohorts – there is a huge impetus to help vulnerable young people to stay put if they want to.

Somerset case study: Foster Carer Kelvin Troake helped his fostering placement Darren* to stay put. Kelvin is a single carer from Wellington who has been fostering for Somerset for 15 years.

Kelvin says: “Darren came to me when he was 16, for a full-time Home Based Care placement. He’d previously been in Yeovil, and had problems with drink and drugs and not going to school. His decision to come and live with me was a fresh start; a brand-new environment for him. When he left school, he was very clear that what he wanted to be was a mechanic. I supported him in looking for an apprenticeship, and when he managed to get an interview with a local car dealership, we dressed him up to the nines and gave him a mock interview. They were so impressed with him that they stopped recruitment and decided to offer him the apprenticeship.

“I was over the moon for him – for me, the big thing was encouraging his education and training. He started his apprenticeship and did incredibly well. It obviously meant that when he was about to turn 18, he was still doing his apprenticeship. It seemed obvious to me that the most sensible outcome was for him to stay put.

“It was the best thing for Darren. It wasn’t right for him, although he was 18, to be forced to live independently, and we were both very keen for him to stay. His progression was remarkable, in that he took his apprenticeship really seriously, getting himself up every day and having very few instances of being off. He learned to drive, and saved up a bit of money to buy himself a car. At the end of his apprenticeship he was offered a full-time job.

“For him, staying put couldn’t have worked out any better. Darren also had two leaving care workers during his time with me, who were very supportive, and worked closely with me as a foster carer, which I really appreciated.”

Somerset Foster Carers receive an allowance if they support a young person to stay put beyond their 18th birthday. A staying put arrangement is not the same as a foster placement; the young person is considered a young adult and a care leaver.

Watch Kelvin’s video on YouTube here:

For more information about staying put arrangements, visit www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/policy-practice/practice-information/staying-put

For Somerset’s Leaving Care Finance Policy, click here