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Brighter future for care leavers
New powers allow young people in care to receive support for longer.
Scotland’s Minister for Children & Young People met a group of young care leavers yesterday, on the eve of a vote in the Scottish Parliament for legislation that would enable teenagers to remain in care longer and extend their entitlement to support to the age of 26.
Ahead of the final Stage 3 proceedings and vote for the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill on Wednesday, Aileen Campbell met care leavers and staff at West Dunbartonshire Throughcare and Youth Homelessness Team.
The Minister said:
“It has been clear to me since we set out to transform family services that we must ensure all young people in care have access to a range of excellent care and support that they know they can rely on as they head into early adulthood.
“The changes we’re making will mean that 16-year-olds who would be due to leave residential, foster or kinship care from April next year will have the option of staying on up to the age of 21 if that’s right for them. And they will also be entitled to financial and other support to the age of 26.
“We have committed £5 million every year up to the end of this decade to ensure the transition from care to independent living is made as smooth as possible as part of the move into adult life.
“The young people here in West Dunbartonshire benefit from comprehensive throughcare and aftercare. They are able to build positive relationships and know that when the time is right for them to leave, they still have somewhere to turn for advice or information – something that it is all too easy to take for granted.
“These are significant changes and I am very grateful to all of the council services, charities and care leavers themselves who have helped us to give future generations of Scottish care leavers a brighter future.”
Councillor Gail Casey, Convener of West Dunbartonshire Community Health and Care Partnership, said: “West Dunbartonshire Council is committed to supporting our young people and our dedicated officers have helped hundreds of young people through the care system.
“Young people in West Dunbartonshire have been supported well past the age their support would normally have finished. This extended support has helped many young people through further education and has helped them grow into confident young adults with the skills, knowledge and education to move from the care provided by the Council to live independently.”
Notes to editors
Subject to Parliament’s approval tomorrow (Wednesday), provisions to be introduced through the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill include:
- The right to aftercare support available to all care leavers to be extended from those up to the age of 21 to those aged up to 26.
- All young people in care born after April 1999 to have the right to stay in foster, kinship or residential care until the age of 21.
- Amended legislation to ensure that those leaving care aged 16 will become eligible for aftercare immediately, closing a loophole due to the age limit being determined by school year terms rather than birthday.
- An expert group to look at any further legislation needed to deliver overall ambitions and the way information on looked after young people is used to improve services.
The Scottish Government also announced in January a further, longer-term ambition to allow those care leavers who may need it the opportunity to return to care, up to the age of 21. An expert group, including representatives from The Aberlour Trust, Who Cares? Scotland and Barnardo’s Scotland, will examine how to deliver this extended long-term ambition and how to manage the availability of places, affordability and suitability of care provision going forward, without impacting on existing and future care users.