Headlines: October 5th, 2007

Local authorities around the country are to run pilot projects that could see children staying in care after they are sixteen rather than being asked to leave before they are ready to live independently. The Government wants to end what it sees as poor practice and the pilots will look at the best ways to plan care around the young people’s needs.

In all, 11 pilot projects costing an estimated six million pounds over the next three years, will give young people in care a greater say over whether they stay on until they are 18, or move into independent flats or hostels. The local authorities taking part are Bournemouth, Barnet, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Merton, North Tyneside, Oxfordshire, South Gloucestershire, Plymouth, Tower Hamlets and Warwickshire.

Kevin Brennan, Minister for Children and Families said, “Not all children are ready to live independently at the age of 16, especially if they want to do A levels and consider going to university. However, whatever their future plans we know that stable placements and good care planning around the needs of the young person leads to better outcomes such as a reduction in these young people becoming NEET -not in education, employment, or training – which benefits society as a whole.”

The idea of the The Right2bCared4 pilot programme was included in the Green Paper for children in care and confirmed in the White Paper, ‘Care Matters: Time for Change’ The pilots will begin this month and run for three years. The lessons learned from the schemes will then be shared with other local authorities to aid them in planning their own care systems.

The level of funding going to each of the 11 authorities will depend on the numbers of young people in care and the specific focus of each pilot. Some of the councils involved are planning to allocate significant amounts of the funding to placement costs and others will put greater emphasis on the management and coordination of the care planning process.