Study backs Staying Put in children's homes at cost of £76m a year

By Neil Puffett

| 28 January 2015

Allowing young people to stay in residential care to the age of 21 will cost around £76m a year, a government-commissioned scoping study has found.

Speaking in parliament, children's minister Edward Timpson said he will "consider carefully" the report's recommendations. Picture: UK parliament

A report on the potential of extending so-called Staying Put arrangements to children’s homes – put together by the National Children's Bureau (NCB), the Who Cares? Trust and Barnardo's, Action for Children, Together Trust and Loughborough University – calls for government to introduce a new system of wide-ranging support up to the age of 21, because young people in care are split on the best way to extend provision.

The study looked at four different options for young people in residential care:

  • Staying in the same children’s home until the age of 21
  • Living in a separate building but in the same grounds
  • Living in "supported lodgings" until the age of 21
  • Care leavers "staying close" to their children’s home but living independently in their own flat

One in four of young people questioned as part of the study chose the first option, with a further 25 per cent choosing option four (independent living).

Option three (supported lodgings) was backed by 17 per cent of young people, and option two (separate building) was backed by 13 per cent.

Extrapolated across the entire residential care population, the report estimates that annual cost of extending provision in such a way to be £76m each year, or £227.9m over the three-year period.

The report recommends that the Department for Education (DfE) introduces “a new overarching duty of continuing wide-ranging support up to the age of 21 for all young people leaving care”.

It also calls on Ofsted to assess the ability of children’s homes to maintain their registration when they routinely cater for young people over 18 years old, and for the DfE and the Department for Communities and Local Government to review options for extending regulation to a wider range of supported accommodation options.

Speaking during a debate in parliament yesterday afternoon on accommodation for young people in care, children’s minister Edward Timpson said he has only just received the report, and will consider it “in the next few weeks”.

“I will of course consider carefully the scoping study and its recommendations,” he said.

Timpson added that the No Wrong Door project, established by North Yorkshire County Council, which received £2m funding from the DfE’s innovation fund, is currently testing a model of Staying Put for children in residential care.

Prior to Timpson requesting a scoping study, the government had previously rejected calls to introduce Staying Put arrangements to residential care.

Pressure on the government to introduce Staying Put for children in residential care has been growing since Staying Put for children in foster care was introduced last year as part of the Children and Families Act.

Last July the education select committee called for the introduction of Staying Put in children's homes.

 

 

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