Foster carers – along with everyone else involved in fostering provision – will recall the words earlier in the year of Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi. He identified projects that will provide support and options for foster children as they leave care. These young people were, it was asserted, be helped to choose between either going into education, training or employment. And to be fair, there are now choices for youngsters as ‘Staying Put’ is firmly in place. The result of this is that since May 2014, fostered young people in England have the right to remain with their foster families when they reach 18. This depends upon the agreement of both parties. Everyone would agree that this is a fraught time for a young person in foster care. The transition to adulthood and independent living can be very stressful for a youngster.
Nadhim Zahawi gave the details of the new programme of support at the first-ever National Learning Conference. This showcased certain projects from the Government’s £200 million Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme. Good news for foster children everywhere. An example given was the up to £5 million allocation for three new ‘Social Impact Bond’ projects to support care leavers into education, employment or training. In the Minister’s own words at the time:
“I’m delighted to announce today three new innovation projects supported by the Programme. We are investing up to £5m in Social Impact Bonds to support care leavers as they transition to adulthood and independent living in Sheffield, Bristol and Lewisham. These Social Impact Bonds are a first for the InnovationProgramme and a first for care leavers – testing new commissioning and funding models to support care leavers into education, training and employment.”
These sentiments will have been welcomed by foster carers and everyone involved in the provision of fostering services.
Nadhim Zahawi also stated –
“The first National Learning Conference provides a valuable opportunity for us all to come together – government, voluntary and community groups as well as health and police partners – to learn from the work being delivered to many of our most vulnerable children and families through the Innovation Programme.”
Nadhim Zahawi also said he was –
“Pleased to announce that Spectra First will deliver the Care Leaver Covenant on behalf of the Department. The Care Leaver Covenant is a fantastic opportunity for organisations in civil society to sign up to helping care leavers get the practical support other young people get from their families when starting out in life and becoming more independent. That means helping them in a range of practical ways. It could be helping them access and benefit from education, employment and training opportunities, for instance by offering apprenticeships, making sure they’ve got a set of interview clothes so they feel confident when they walk through the door, or providing discounted and free offers such as gym membership that helps combat social isolation and loneliness. The Covenant is a way of making that happen and getting a wide range of organisations involved in providing care leavers with the chances they need and deserve.”
For more information and opinion on ‘Staying Put’ – foster care provision beyond 18 visit – https://www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/policy-practice/practice-information/staying-put
These words were published back on February 27th 2018. In the months that have followed, the nation – along with its political leaders – has been held spellbound by the unending drama that has been Brexit. On December 12th there was a General Election that delivered a decisive result. It is now the responsibility of the incoming government to focus its efforts on making sure that supporting foster carers and foster children are placed firmly back on the political agenda.
Happy Christmas and New Year from ‘Team Rainbow’.
Christmas must always be a time when we remember those who can’t look forward to Christmas spent within their own loving family. This time of the year can be especially difficult. Children coming into foster care are almost certainly the most vulnerable individuals in our society. Our collective effort in ensuring that they will have a future filled with opportunity will be how our society is ultimately judged. It is encouraging to think, as a new decade looms, just how many committed and dedicated people there are caring for these children. Our job in 2020 is to find more people to do that job. If that might be you, please call 020 8427 3355 or use our National Line 0330 2845.
Rainbow has been established for over twenty years and been rated ‘Outstanding’ in all areas by Ofsted.
Remember, we regularly post news and general information about fostering on our website http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/news/
A blog recommendation http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/complex-needs/