The findings come from the Staying Put 18plus pilot evaluation that has been released by the Department for Education.
About the Staying Put 18plus pilot
The Staying Put 18plus pilot offered young people who had established relationships with foster carers the opportunity to remain with their carers until they reached 21. The key objectives of the pilot were to:
- Enable young people to build on their attachments to their carers, so that they could move to independence at their own pace and be supported to make the transition to adulthood in a more gradual way just like other young people who can rely on their own families for this support;
- Provide the stability and support necessary for young people to achieve in education, training and employment; and
- Give weight to young people’s views about the timing of moves to greater independence from their final care placement.
The aims of the evaluation, conducted in partnership between the Centre for Child and Family Research, Loughborough University and the Catch22 National Care Advisory Service (NCAS), were to assess the effectiveness and impact of the Staying Put pilots on helping young people stay in foster care beyond 18.
A peer research approach to evaluation
A key element of the evaluation was the use of the peer research methodology, supported by NCAS, 12 care experienced young people from six participating authorities were trained and supported to conduct 32 interviews with young people who had benefited from the Staying Put pilots.
The evaluation found that many foster families offer a warm, nurturing environment, compensatory care and a secure base, that young people who stayed with foster carers were twice likely to be in full time education at 19 compared to those that did not and that Staying Put gave young people more control over their lives and their transition from care. The most common explanation young people provided for not wanting to stay put was poor quality relationships with their carers or others in the placement.
Read the full report (677KB, PDF)
Read the young people’s peer research report (724KB, PDF)