Can I stay with my foster carers when I turn 18?
Normally once you turn 18, you leave care and are no longer a looked after child. However, since May 2014 it is possible for you to stay with your foster carers after your 18th birthday as part of a ‘Staying Put’ arrangement.
If you were an eligible child (you have spent 13 weeks or more in care and you are still looked after on your 18th birthday) and living with foster carers then you might be able to stay with your foster carers up until you are 21. Children’s Services must continue to support you in this arrangement if it is in your best interests. Whether it is in your best interests will be discussed at your Looked After Children’s Review meeting (LAC review).For more information see Looked After Child review (LAC review).
A Staying Put arrangement can last until your 21st birthday, or until:
- You decide to leave the Staying Put arrangement before your 21st birthday.
- You complete the agreed training or education in your Pathway Plan.
To find out if you were an eligible child see Leaving care support.
What type of placement does this cover?
The Staying Put arrangement only applies if you are living with foster carers who are approved by the local authority or a fostering agency. Unfortunately, it does not apply if you are placed in residential care or supported lodgings. However, if you are in one of these and want to stay beyond 18 you can still let Children’s Services know as part of your Needs Assessment and LAC review.
You do not need to be in full or part time education, training or employment to remain in your foster placement.
How do I ask for Staying Put?
When you are 16 your social worker should carry out a Needs Assessment and prepare a Pathway Plan which sets out the plan for when you leave care, and as part of this they should consider a Staying Put arrangement. Staying Put will be considered at each LAC review you have so, you should speak to your social worker and Independent Reviewing Officer. You may also want to get an advocate to help you do this. For more information see Advocacy, Who’s Who.
What support can I get for Staying Put?
By law, Children’s Services must give you advice and support about Staying Put. They must also give financial support and training to your foster carer and keep your placement under regular review. The amount that your foster carer will be paid may be reduced and you may wish to seek advice on this if you do not consider this reduction is reasonable if, for example, your needs have not changed.
You may also be entitled to claim Housing Benefit to help with living costs, perhaps to cover any reduced income that your foster carers will receive.
What if I want to leave before I am 21?
If you wish to leave your Staying Put arrangement or you want to change your plan you should speak to your Personal Advisor about reviewing your Pathway Plan. You may also want to get an advocate to help you do this. For more information, see Advocacy, Who’s Who.
If you feel like you are not being listened to you may want to make a complaint about your care placement or Staying Put arrangement. For more information, see Complaints to Children’s Services.