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Staying Put

Volume 615: debated on Monday 10 October 2016

3. What steps her Department has taken to implement the Staying Put policy; and what progress her Department has made on expanding similar arrangements to children from residential care. (906516)

Since May 2014, we have provided £44 million to local authorities to implement Staying Put. The latest data indicate that 54% of 18-year-olds who are eligible to stay put chose to do so. That is a massive increase on what happened before—I am proud to say this—a Conservative-led Government changed the law. We have also seen 30% of 19-year-olds and 16% of 20-year-olds still living with their former foster carers. For those leaving residential care, we have announced plans to pilot a similar scheme, Staying Close.

Sir Martin Narey’s recent review of the children’s homes estate recommended that the vulnerable 9% of looked-after children who are currently excluded from Staying Put arrangements are given the opportunity to take part in Staying Close. Will the Minister update the House on what plans he has for exploring Sir Martin’s recommendations?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question and his continued support for care leavers in this House. A key part of our new cross-Government care leavers’ strategy, “Keep On Caring”, was the commitment to introduce Staying Close, as recommended by Sir Martin Narey. We now intend to pilot Staying Close so that we can understand the costs and practical implications before there is a wider roll-out. Part of the next phase of the children’s social care innovation programme will be an invitation to organisations to work with us to develop projects that are aimed at transforming support for vulnerable children, including Staying Close.

As the Minister is clearly staying put, which many will welcome, will he ensure that he does what he can for those children in residential care who want to stay put? Will he recognise the campaign of Every Child Leaving Care Matters, which is calling for exactly those provisions and changes on the basis that we should be looking after children who most need help—those children in care, particularly in residential care—in the same way that we do with our own children?

I am delighted to be staying put, and I will work closely with everybody to make sure that we get this right. Two people who are prominent in the Every Child Leaving Care Matters campaign are working with us to design the system that we want to create in the future.