Staying Put and Moving On
Hello everyone, and welcome to our latest blog post about staying put and moving on. With thousands of young people going off to University in the next few weeks; we thought it would be a good chance to look at some of the options open for the young people in our care.
Young people who are in care when they turn 18 are entitled to help from a PA. They should have met this person with their social worker before they turn 18. If you have a young person who is turning 18, and they haven’t been allocated a post-18 worker yet; get in touch with their Social Worker.
You may be familiar with the idea of Staying Put; perhaps you already support a young person who has chosen to stay with you post-18.
In a nutshell, Staying Put was introduced in 2014 to give young people the right to remain with their Foster Carers beyond the age of 18. However, past the age of 18 the young person is no longer classed as ‘Looked After’. A working agreement is drawn up between the young person, Foster Carer and Local Authority to make sure everyone understands the expectations of the Staying Put arrangement.
For a young person on the edge of adulthood, knowing that they don’t have to move on immediately can relieve a lot of anxiety and worry. In the same way, many Foster Carers feel conflicted about having to have a young person leave their home simply because they are 18. The Stay Put arrangement allows time for the young person to be ready; and for them to continue to receive love and support in their own home.
Approved Foster Carers can continue to take new young people into their home, as long as you have a spare bedroom to do so. If you wish to continue to support your young person as well as continue to foster with Lorimer; we will support you 100%.
Going to University
If you have a young person in your home who is turning 16, 17 or 18; chances are that the conversation about university has come up!
While University isn’t for everyone (and there’s nothing wrong with that!); we should definitely be supporting our young people to reach their full potential. For young people who are living in the Foster Care system when they reach 18, there is usually extra support available. This is sometimes financial support – enabling them to have the same advantages as many other young people.
Some young people will want or need a place to stay in between the term times for university – they may ask you as their foster carer if they can come back to stay with you at these times. This is fine, as long as they have a DBS check in place if you are still fostering. Occasionally, the Local Authority will agree a combination of Staying Put and the young person going to live away during term time, so that they have a stable base to come back to.
Working or Training
A lot of young people choose to go into the world of work or a training programme. If this is the case for your young person, they may also have opted for a Staying Put agreement too.
This is a great chance for young people to manage their own money for the first time; and where those independence skills you have been promoting for them should really come into practice!
Speak to your young person about what it is that they may like to do. There are options in Apprenticeships, Entry-Level jobs with training or further education in colleges.
If they are in college now, encourage them to speak to their careers advisor who might be able to point them in the right direction. Additionally, you will be attending the last PEP meetings for your young person; so it will be a good idea to discuss alternatives to university here.
Returning to Live with the Birth Family
This can sometimes be a difficult time for Foster Carers. It is not uncommon that, at age 18, young people opt to move back to live with their birth families.
Try to understand that they have spent sometimes the majority of their childhood being cared for by other people. As fantastic as this care has been, the pull to family is very strong.
If you can, try and stay in touch – but be led by the wishes and feelings of the young person. They will likely feel a mix of push-and-pull emotions.
If this is what the young person opts for, please be reassured that this is not a rejection of you or the care you have provided. Moreover, Foster Carers understand the strong links that most young people feel with their birth family. Many of you will have found that during their teenaged years, young people express a strong desire to return to live with birth family.
Ideally, this plan will be in place before they turn 18, and all professionals involved in their care can put in place a plan so that this happens smoothly.
Conversations should start early about what your young person wants to do. Turning 18 is a big deal for any young person; for those who are fostered it can feel even more momentous. They might be craving freedom and independence, or dreading feeling alone and unprepared.
As a Foster Carer, you should work with all your young people on their independence skills no matter their age. As with your own children, they need to learn how to stand on their own two feet, while still having a guiding hand to steady them.
The UCAS website has some great advice for young people who don’t wish to extend their education.