Councils receive Staying Put funding allocations

By Joe Lepper

| 08 August 2014

The government has announced how much each council will receive this year to extend support up to age 21 for young people in foster care, but concerns remain that the money is not enough.

Changes introduced in the Children and Families Act gave foster children the right to stay in care up to 21

The £7.4m allocation for 2014/15 is part of a £40m funding package announced last year that councils will use to deliver the government’s Staying Put policy, which gives fostered 18-year-olds the option of remaining with a carer up to 21.

The Department for Education said the £7.4m covers 900 placements, which equates to £8,222 per young person. The funding allocation for 2015/16 will be around £14m and a remaining £21m will be paid in 2016/17.

Kent County Council has received the largest payout of £265,272. Among other large payouts is Croydon’s £171,588, Manchester’s £165,672, Birmingham’s £149,893 and Essex’s £162, 713 allocation.

Among the lowest allocations are North Lincolnshire’s £5,917, the City of London’s £4,931 and Rutland’s £2,958.

But fostering groups are concerned that the money, based on levels of take-up seen when the extension was piloted, will not be enough to support all young people who want to remain in foster care until they are 21.

Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network said: “The funding is based on local councils reaching the levels of uptake that were achieved when this was piloted. However, the intention is that far more children stay on. If that can be achieved then the funding would be inadequate.

“The minister has indicated to us that he is willing to ask for more money in the next spending review if that happens, but it is up to councils to ensure that they are showing that the money is not enough. Our concern is that councils though will not be bringing in the changes that are needed and making that case.”

Jacqui Lawrence, fostering development consultant at the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, said: “At this stage it is still difficult to ascertain if the finance is enough and there will continue to be concerns until we start to see how it is impacting. Some of the figures were based on the uptake in the pilots and if more young people take up Staying Put, this could change the figures and more funding may be needed.”

She added: “This amount being announced is a very good starting point for recognising the needs of young people.”

Government figures released last year calculated the annual per-placement cost to social care of the extension to 21 to be £7,105, including placement fees and wider support.

But it emerged that the £40m would cover just £5,400 of that cost and was based on providing extended support for 8,000 young people, not the 10,000 the government pledged to support.

The DfE said it has consulted the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and the Local Government Association to determine the level each council receives.

A spokeswoman added: "We have significantly improved the support on offer to young people leaving care, including changing the law so all children in foster care can stay until they are 21.”

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