A landmark change in legislation for young people in care

Date: 14th January 2014
Category: Family Environment and Alternative Care

Legal changes will be made to Scotland's care system enabling care leavers to stay in care to 21 years old, after an amendment to the CYP Bill was passed by the Education and Culture Committee.

Right now, most young people in care leave the system at 16 or 18 and face a lack of access to consistent and appropriate 'aftercare' support. This additional help will provide a lifeline to these young people: a lifeline which most of Scotland's families already provide for their own children. Most importantly, it will mean that between 1,300 and 2,400 young care leavers have rights to fall back on as they attempt to make their way in the world. They will be able to hold onto the stable and in many cases loving relationships which they held with people - often professionals or foster carers - whilst in care, to help guide them through their young adulthood too, due to these changes.

In addition to being able to stay in their care placement to 21 years old as part of a 'continuing care' package, they will also have a better package of 'aftercare' support to take advantage of to 26 years old. This includes rights to suitable accommodation which should prevent any young person who was cared for by the state relying on homelessness laws to be housed.

There is also a commitment from the government to allow young people from care between 16 and 21 years old to return to a care placement after they leave, and find that they hit problems or issues which they can't cope with. This right will give many care leavers the chance they need to get back on track and prevent them from travelling further along an all too familiar path of poor outcomes and life chances.

Early in 2014, a working group led by the Scottish Government will be set up to determine how all of these changes will best work in practice. Young people from care will play a role in this group along with COSLA, ADSW and the coalition organisations amongst others.

The changes secured have been led by young people themselves and they are absolutely over the moon that their hard-work and own care experiences have helped to change the future for generations to come.