The proportion of young people who remain in foster care after turning 18 has fallen to its lowest level since the introduction of the Staying Put duty, new figures show. The proportion of young people staying in foster care beyond their 18th birthday has fallen by eight percentage points within the space of a year. Under the Staying Put initiative, which was made law through the Children and Families Act 2014, councils have a duty to support looked-after children who want to remain with their foster carer until they are 21. But concerns have previously been raised that the scheme is being hindered by a lack of funding from central government to enable councils to cover the additional cost. Fostering data published by Ofsted shows that the percentage of young people in foster care staying on after their 18th birthday dropped significantly from 2,190 young people in 2015/16 (54 per cent of those eligible) to 1,570 in 2016/17 (46 per cent of those eligible). Within the 2016/17 figures, the proportion of young people living in local authority foster care who remained in a placement fell from 56 to 52 per cent, while the percentage in independent foster agency placements declined from 50 to 38 per cent.
Takeup is now at its lowest level since 2014, when the government introduced the legal duty. The decline means the levels of fostered young people staying on after 18 are now lower than in 2013, prior to the introduction of the duty. Read more.