A 'Staying Put' amendment, proposed by the Government, which will allow young people in England to stay with their foster carers beyond their 18th birthdays, has now been formally made to the Children and Families Bill in the House of Lords.
The amendment represents another milestone in the successful Don't Move Me campaign. The charity's role in achieving the amendment was praised by Lord Listowel during the debate in the Lords chamber. The peer, who led the fight for this change to the law in the House of Lords, said:
"I am grateful to the coalition of charities which made this possible, including Barnardo's, the NSPCC and the Who Cares? Trust, and most especially to Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, who led the charge. The help offered by his officer, Vicki Swain, was faultless."
Lord Nash, who tabled the amendment on behalf of the Government, reassured peers of the Government's commitment to ensuring local authorities implement the change properly. He said:
"We are continuing to work with sector organisations on the guidance to ensure that it supports the effective implementation of this important new duty. We are committed to doing more to support care leavers, and I believe that the proposed new clause is a crucial step forward."
The amendment was accepted by the Lords and has now become part of the Bill, which is expected to receive Royal Assent this spring.
Fostering Network says that at present, some young people are supported to stay with their foster family beyond 17 by their local authority, while others are reliant on their foster carers being willing and able to keep them out of their own pocket. Many young people find themselves having to leave their foster home and live independently by their 18th birthdays. This change to the law will place a duty on English local authorities to facilitate and support staying put arrangements for all fostered young people, where this is what they and their foster carers want. Crucially, the importance of financial support for foster carers has been directly addressed by the Government: they have pledged an extra £40 million for local authorities over three years to ensure that foster carers will not be out of pocket as a result of offering staying put placements.