Foster carers and those providing 'Staying Put' arrangements play a vital role in supporting some of our most vulnerable children and young people.
The cross-government care leaver strategy stressed the commitment to the 'Staying Put' scheme. Colleagues in the Department for Education are keen to maximise the number of eligible young people leaving care who take up the option to stay with foster parents.
I know that the Department regularly speaks to those on the frontline about the best policies to enact to support young people leaving care. This includes 'Staying Put' and funding for the scheme. The strategy for care leavers, 'Keep on Caring', confirmed that new 'burdens funding' would continue to be paid to local authorities through to the end of this Parliament. This uses the amount allocated in 2016-17 period of £22.2 million as the baseline funding, which is increased by 2 per cent every year. In the period 2017 to 2018, £22.85 million of funding was provided, which increased to £23.3 million this year and is set to reach £23.77 million next year. Funding beyond March 2020 will be determined at the next Spending Review.
I am encouraged that in its response to the independent review into fostering in England, the Department for Education said it will use evidence from the national rollout of 'Staying Put' to refine the scheme and address some of the most significant practical barriers.
I hope this reassures you that significant funding is available and that the 'Staying Put' scheme is giving many young people the stability they need as they move into adulthood.
If you have thought about fostering locally you can find more information at Staffordshire County Council's website https://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/health/childrenandfamilycare/adoptionandfostering/home.aspx
For those who could not commit to full time fostering, there is a 'short break' fostering scheme which also runs in our area. In this scheme foster parents look after a child for a short period of time such as over one weekend a month or during the school holidays. Full training, support and funding is provided.
If you would like more information on this project visit https://www.care4child.org/Fostering/