If you’re considering long-term placements or caring for teenagers, you might wonder what happens to foster children after they turn 18.
When foster children leave care and become independent adults, they undergo a significant transition period.
In this blog, we’ll discuss what happens to foster children when they turn 18 and the difficulties they encounter as they enter adulthood.
Understanding the Foster Care System
Before we start, let’s take a quick look at what foster care is all about.
Foster care is a temporary placement for children removed from their homes due to safety concerns, like abuse or neglect.
Children in foster care are placed in the care of a licensed foster parent or family until they can safely return to their own families or be adopted.
To get a deeper understanding of foster care, we have compiled the history of foster care for you to read.
Ageing Out of Foster Care
When foster children turn 18, they age out of the foster care system, but that doesn’t mean they’re left to fend for themselves.
In fact, social services and the Government offer support to help them transition to independent living.
However, once they’re adults, foster children are responsible for themselves and make their own decisions. This can be a challenging transition for those who have never lived independently.
At 16, the Government gives foster children a plan to help them prepare for life on their own.
When they turn 18, they’re no longer in care, but the local council must still provide them with some support, including a personal adviser and a plan.
Even when they reach 21, they can still get help and advice from their local council and a personal adviser until they’re 25, if they want to.
We know that transitioning to independent living can be daunting, but we want foster children to see they’re not alone.
There’s help and support available to help them along the way.
Living & Staying Put Arrangements
For foster children who turn 18, finding a place to live can be a huge challenge. They might have to leave their foster home or group home and find housing on their own.
But for those who want to stay with their foster family, there’s a solution called a Staying Put arrangement. This allows children already part of the family to continue living there even after turning 18.
The local authorities oversee and support this arrangement until the foster child turns 21 (or longer if they’re in higher education or training).
It’s important to note that a Staying Put agreement differs from a foster placement because once a foster child turns 18, they’re no longer considered a child under the law. And while foster parents become former foster parents, regulations for the fostering service still apply if they’re caring for more than one child.
If a former foster child wants to continue living with their foster family, they’ll need to have a DBS check to ensure the safety of any current foster children.
We understand how important it is for foster children to have a stable and supportive living situation, especially during the transition to adulthood.
That’s why Staying Put arrangements can be an excellent option for those who want to continue living with their foster family.
Shared Accommodation Arrangements
Supported living facilities can be a great option for young people who want to live independently but still need some help.
These facilities usually involve shared accommodation with trained hosts and regular welfare visits to ensure everything goes smoothly.
One of the great things about supported living is that different levels of support are available, depending on the young person’s needs.
Some people prefer a more hands-off approach, while others need more intense, 24/7 assistance due to complex emotional or physical requirements.
Care leavers are carefully matched to comfortable living arrangements, and the level of support is adjusted to match their individual development.
Overall, supported living facilities can be a fantastic option for young people who want to experience more independence while still receiving the help they need.
Private Living Arrangements
Young people are always supported and never abandoned to look after themselves when they decide they are ready to leave the care system and move into private housing.
The local authority provides a financial package to cover living costs and a personal advisor who is always available to answer questions and provide support.
These personal advisors are fantastic role models who help young people create a bright
future with promising opportunities, just like social workers do.
What Support is There For Care Leavers?
There’s a lot of help available for care leavers once they turn 18.
The council has a few responsibilities to make sure you’re supported:
- They’ll give you a personal advisor who can help you with things like health, education, training, managing your money, and staying in touch with your family.
- They’ll also make sure you have a place to live, and they’ll stick to a plan that you make together called the Pathway Plan. This plan helps you figure out what you want to do and how you’ll get there.
- If you want to go to college or university, you might be eligible for some financial support. You could get up to £1,200 a year if you stay in full-time education; if you go on to university or college, you could get a grant of £2,000!
Plus, there’s something called the Setting Up Home allowance that can help you buy essential things when you move into your own place, like furniture and other basics.
Your personal advisor will monitor your Pathway Plan and check in with you every six months to ensure everything is going okay.
How Can We Prepare Young People to Live on Their Own?
In addition to creating a Pathway Plan, there are some valuable skills that we can teach young people to help them feel more confident and prepared:
We can show them how to manage their money and create a budget.
We can also teach them some basic cooking and cleaning skills, like changing a light bulb or doing their own laundry.
Giving young people more responsibilities, like chores, can also help them feel more capable and independent.
Setting boundaries and holding them accountable can help them grow into responsible adults.
It’s also essential to have open and honest communication with young people about their fears and concerns.
Leaving care can be scary, so creating a safe space for them to voice their worries can help alleviate some of the stress.
We know it isn’t easy to give young people more responsibility when they’ve already been through so much.
But with a bit of support and encouragement, we can help them build the skills and confidence they need to thrive on their own.
Could You Foster?
The shortage of foster carers in the UK is a real issue that significantly impacts vulnerable children.
Unfortunately, some children are placed far away from their loved ones and friends, which can be a real challenge for them.
Did you know that historically, around 70-80% of foster placements have been within 20 miles of the child’s home?
Unfortunately, up to 30% of placements are further away, which can be tough for some children.
We understand that maintaining continuity is essential for many children, especially when it comes to school and friends. However, for others, a change may be necessary.
At Family Care, we believe that every child deserves a loving and stable home environment.
That’s why we’re always looking for new foster families in high-demand areas, especially in the Northwest and the Midlands.
If you’re considering becoming a foster carer and would like to learn more, we’d love to hear from you.
You can get in touch by completing our short online enquiry form or calling us on 0800 5 677677.
There’s no obligation, and we’re happy to chat and answer any questions you may have.
Healing Pasts | Building Futures