We changed the law in Wales so that young people in foster care have the chance to stay in a safe family environment until they are 21 - giving them the time and support they need to get ready for adult life.

Children and young people enter the care system for many reasons, but most will have experienced great distress and upheaval in their childhood. For these reasons many young people in care are less equipped to deal with independence than their peers, even though they are expected to be ready to live independently earlier.

It didn’t make any sense. If these young people had more time with their foster carers to develop the skills they need to live independently, they would have a much greater chance of success.

In Wales, we had an urgent opportunity to make sure young people have the chance to stay with foster carers until they are 21. Thanks to our supporters, we made this important change to the law.

The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 now says clearly that young people in Wales are able to stay with their foster carers until they are 21, if that is what they both want.

"I worry about it now. I’m no good on my own; I need people I can trust around me. Kids in care worry about this stuff all the time, from when you’re really young you know it’s coming and it’s really scary. There’s no way I’ll be able to do it."

A, 14
Lives with a foster family

Why stay longer?

  • The average age for leaving home in the UK is 24 but young people in foster care in Wales leave between the ages of 16 and 18.
  • Most young people in care have experienced great distress as children and are less ready to deal with independence.
  • Research shows that young people who stay with their foster carers for longer are more likely to get qualifications and less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, use mental health services, be arrested or go to prison.
  • Young people who stay longer with foster carers save public money in the long term as they're more likely to be happy, active adults in good health and employment.
chance to stay

What we did

We worked with young people who had experience of being in care and the Fostering Network Wales, to ask members of the National Assembly for Wales to support an amendment to the law.

We also asked our supporters in Wales to help us, and contact their Assembly Members to ask them to support us and help make the change.

The good news is that it worked! From April 2016, when the law comes into force in Wales, young people will have a Chance to Stay.

There are three really important parts to the new law.

  1. Decisions about whether to stay will be led by the young person and their foster carer.
  2. The law assumes young people are able to stay, unless it’s not safe for them to do so.
  3. Local authorities will have to provide financial and other support for young people to stay.

All together this  means the law has the force it needs to make a real difference, and we’ll carry on working to make sure it helps young people in real life.

"What a result! A big 'thank you' to everyone who took part in such an amazing campaign. We should all be proud: we've done it!"

Young campaigner

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