Yesterday, the Queen's Speech introduced the new Children and Social Work Bill, which outlines a strengthening of adoption for children, and also more supports for care leavers.
While I fully support that adoption is the best option for many looked after children to secure permanence, and all the benefits that stability can bring, I want to speak out for the value that permanence in foster care can bring for children and young people too.
We have many children and young people who are matched for permanence with their foster carers, and are enjoying family life, with the love, security and stability that this brings. We know that care really does work for many young people and I think it's important to speak up for the fantastic young people who are confident, talented in many different ways, and looking towards positive futures, thanks to the love and security they have been given by exceptional fostering families.
It was great to see more support being promised to care leavers up until the age of 25, through personal advisors, and clearer information about entitlements. We know from our own consultation with some care leavers that information can be varied, and it's often unclear exactly what they are entitled to. However, I want to recognise the very significant difference that foster carers make for young people, and we know that these relationships are hugely important, not just up to age 18, but beyond that also. Whether young people remain "staying put" (that means staying with their foster carers beyond the age of 18) , or just continue to enjoy ongoing relationships from an independent home, we know that foster carers are very important to young people, and many continue those supports unpaid, and often without recognition, but get a great deal out of seeing young people grow and thrive in adulthood.
New strengthened practices, and promises are welcome, and will help, but in the end it's people, and relationships that will make the difference.
Vicky Davidson Boyd
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