JOINT PRESS RELEASE FROM ANN COFFEY MP FOR STOCKPORT AND PAUL GOGGINS, MP FOR WYTHENSHAWE AND SALE EAST: 04/12/2013
Two senior Manchester MPs have won their fight for children in care to be able to stay with their foster families until their 21st birthday.
Ann Coffey, MP for Stockport and Paul Goggins, MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East – who both have backgrounds working with troubled young people as social workers before they entered Parliament – had campaigned against children being forced to leave home at 18.
They expressed their “delight” today that the Department for Education has said it will impose a legal duty on councils to provide financial support for those who want to stay longer with foster carers.
The average age for leaving home for children in the UK is 24 and yet every year hundreds of the most vulnerable children in the country are forced to leave foster care before they are 18.
The MPs had argued that many of those young people are not ready to make their own way in the world and become homeless, or get involved in drink and drugs, suffer depression and can become targets for sexual groomers and predators, if they leave care too early.
Ann Coffey, who is the chair of the All Party Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, said:
“This will make a fantastic difference to the lives of these young people. It was not right that children in care were being thrown out before they were at 18 regardless of their vulnerability. “
Paul Goggins, who is secretary of the All Party Group on Poverty, said:
“This gives young people greater choice and flexibility about when is the right time for them to move on. We all have a responsibility to make sure that young people in care get the support they need. When a troubled teenager finds love and stability in a foster family it is cruel and short sighted to force them to leave at 17. Allowing them to stay with their foster carers until at least 21 is a step in the right direction”.