04 December 2013
Foster care age extension will be hugely beneficial
The church-based fostering and adoption campaign, Home for Good, has welcomed the government's move to extend the age at which children can remain in foster care.
The Department for Education is imposing a legal duty on councils to provide financial support for those who want to stay longer with foster carers. Children in care will now be able to stay with their foster parents until their 21st birthday if they wish to.
Dr Krish Kandiah, a director of the Evangelical Alliance, one of the organisations behind Home for Good, says this move makes absolute sense because in some instances it would be negligent to "chuck them out" at 18.
"To expect looked-after children who will already have experienced trauma in their lives, to leave home at 18 is optimistic if not negligent."
He added that many 18 year olds might be tempted by the offer of independent living while others find the possibility daunting. Either way many children in foster care have complex issues and are not ready to live on their own.
"We welcome this move. I know that many young people will be tempted to have their own place at age 18 but more work needs to be done to encourage some of them to live with foster parents much longer because many are just not ready to leave home at 18 and face the big wide world.
"When we consider our own children, some of whom stay at home well into their 20s why should we expect all foster children to be chucked out at 18?"
Krish, who has both adopted children and provided foster care for many years, says there are many sad stories of some children who have had to leave prematurely just because they reached 18.
"As foster carers we have looked after many babies whose parents came out of the care system at 17 and then immediately became pregnant so that they could access the help and services that they needed. Sadly for many of them their children were then taken into care themselves and the cycle continues on."
Pauline Head, a foster carer with experience of children in her care reaching the age of 18 says it is a stressful time for the children.
"They found the year leading up to their 18th birthday stressful as they knew they weren't ready to move out. We were in the position to offer them the opportunity to stay for longer – which they did - however, this is not an option for all foster carers – because many rely on the money they receive from foster caring. This amendment will benefit a huge number of young adults."
Home for Good is working with churches to encourage members of their congregation to foster or adopt children. It was estimated that more than 20,000 Christians attended services on National Adoption Sunday last month at which there were presentations on how Christians can go about becoming foster parents and adopting children.
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Notes to Editors
The Evangelical Alliance
We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK's two million evangelical Christians. For more than 165 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We're here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it's celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across 79 denominations, 3,500 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK – we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. Visit www.eauk.org for more information.
Home for Good
Home for Good is a nationwide initiative, spearheaded by three well-respected mainstream Christian organisations in the UK: Care for the Family, the Churches' Child Protection Advisory Service and the Evangelical Alliance. Together they have a connection with approximately 15,000 churches. Visit www.homeforgood.org.uk for more information.