Community Foster Care's Chief Executive, Becky Pearson, is lobbying MPs to increase the age that children can remain in foster care.
At the moment, government funding for foster children stops on their 18th birthday.
Becky says that forcing children into independence at 18 can have devastating results.
She is backing a national campaign, called Don’t Move Me, to convince the government to fund foster care until children are 21.
“Increasingly, children are living with their parents until their mid-20s because they are at university or starting their career. We don’t throw them out when they hit 18. Why should cared-for children be treated any differently?” said Becky.
“We know that children in care lose out in so many ways. They lack the stability, the security and the opportunities of their peers. When they are forced to leave foster care at 18, whether they like it or not, it can be the final straw which tips them into a permanent downward spiral.
“Our own children get a party and presents on their 18th birthday. Foster children get a letter saying that their funding has stopped.
“The local authority will help find them accommodation and there are partnerships which help them in the next stage of their life. But it’s not the same as a pat on the back from mum and dad and a future at university. They have to go to the Jobcentre to sign up for benefits or get a job.”
Becky wants local MPs to support an amendment to The Children and Young Families Bill, now making its way through Parliament, which would allow all fostered young people in England the chance to remain with their foster carers until the age of 21 if both parties agree.
“It’s a chance to make a big difference to children’s lives,” said Becky. “It’s also a win-win. Because if we fail to support these children and they end up unable to cope, the costs to the state are far greater than if they were supported through a critical time in their lives,” she said.
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