Parliamentary support for children’s homes to 21

A representative survey of 150 Members of Parliament has found majority support for giving young people the right to stay in their children’s homes until the age of 21.

This right was granted to young people living in foster care through the Children and Families Act 2014, and brought into force from April 2014.

A consortium of private providers of education and social care to children and vulnerable adults, the Children’s Services Development Group, commissioned COMRes to poll the MPs on a variety of issues relating to the provision of children’s services.

On introducing a legal duty on local authorities to enable young people to stay in their children’s homes past 18, on a par with those in foster care:

  • 47% of MPs tended to agree, or strongly agreed with this
  • 15% tended to disagree, or strongly disagreed
  • 36% said they did not know

Support for extending the duty differed between the political parties (though there were small samples for each):

  • 65% of Labour MPs tended to agree, or strongly agreed with extending the duty
  • 41% of Conservative MPs tended to agree, or strongly agreed with extending the duty
  • 22% of SNP MPs tended to agree, or strongly agreed with extending the duty
  • 37% of MPs from other political parties supported extending the duty.

Article 39 highlighted the unequal ‘Staying Put’ arrangements, in our submission last year to Sir Martin Narey’s review of residential care. We argued:

“The emotional, practical and financial support offered to care leavers is an essential part of improving residential care, because this significantly extends the period of time during which young people can recover from past trauma, abuse and neglect. It gives them stability and a sense of security.

The unequal ‘Staying Put’ arrangements for young people living in foster care and children’s homes cannot be justified from the perspective of the needs and rights of these young people. We are aware that one of the explanations given by government for not extending Staying Put to those in children’s homes is the safeguarding implications of homes looking after both children and adults. These challenges exist for foster carers too, perhaps at an increased level since children feature prominently in most families.”

Section 20(5) of the Children Act 1989 already empowers local authorities to place a child over the age of 16 but under 20 years in a children’s home, if this would safeguard or promote the child’s welfare.

Access the poll here.

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