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New rights for young people in foster care to stay with their foster families after 18

Young people in foster care will be able to stay with their foster family until they are 21 as part of a new When I Am Ready scheme which is being rolled out across Wales, Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford today announced (Friday 12 June 2015).

Speaking at an event to mark foster care fortnight, the Minister said the new When I Am Ready arrangements will allow young people to continue living with their foster carers in a stable and nurturing family environment after they turn 18 to the age of 21, or 25 if they are completing an agreed programme of education or training.  

The new arrangements will help ensure young people do not experience a sudden disruption to their living arrangements, which can have a negative impact on their education, training or employment or in developing their skills to live independently.

The changes are being introduced as part of wide-ranging reforms to Welsh social services in April 2016, when the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 comes into force.

Under the Act, local authorities will have new duties towards young people in foster care who wish to continue living with their foster parents beyond the age of 18.

Under the changes, local authorities will have to:

  • Ascertain, when carrying out pathway assessments and drawing up pathway plans for young people aged 16 and 17, whether the young person and their foster carers wish to enter into a When I Am Ready arrangement;
  • Provide advice and other support to facilitate these arrangements, where the young person and foster carers wish to enter into them and provided the local authority is satisfied this is not inconsistent with the young person’s wellbeing.  ​

Professor Drakeford said:

“The new When I Am Ready arrangements will provide stability and continuity for young people leaving foster care as they prepare for independent living.

“It will allow them to have security, protection and practical and emotional support, by allowing them to continue to live in a supportive family environment.

“This will help improve the life chances of looked-after children and provide them with increased opportunities to exercise choice and control over their lives.”  

All looked-after children placed in foster care by a local authority who are approaching the age of 18 are eligible to be considered for the When I Am Ready scheme.  

When I Am Ready carers will receive an allowance to cover all reasonable costs of supporting the young person living with their family. Local authorities set their own rates for When I Am Ready allowances – as they do for fostering allowances – in accordance with the new guidance.

Local authorities are expected to set up their local When I Am Ready schemes during 2015-16, ready for when the new duties come into force in April 2016.  

Channel website: http://gov.wales

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