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Alex supports campaign to widen choices for fostered young people

Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North, has backed his support of a campaign aimed at widening choices for fostered young people in England with a video message calling for a better deal for them.

The “Don’t Move Me” campaign, launched by the Fostering Network with cross-party support from MPs, aims to ensure that all young people in foster care can stay with their foster families when they turn 18 if both parties agree. In addition to Alex, 37 MPs have recorded video messages in support of the campaign, highlighting their own experiences of leaving home and addressing the issue of inadequate support for care leavers. 

Currently, local authority care usually ceases on a young person’s 18th birthday, and what happens to them next is a postcode lottery.  While some local authorities help young people to stay with foster carers, others rely on foster carers offering them a home for free.  In some areas, young people have to move out to live by themselves.

The average age for young people to leave home across the UK is 24.  Traditionally, care leavers don’t do as well in education as those who haven’t been through the care system, and are more likely to be unemployed.  Being able to stay with foster carers beyond the age of 18 will help to reduce these inequalities.

Alex said:

“I am pleased to support the “Don’t Move Me” campaign, and strongly believe that the support provided by allowing young people to remain with their foster families beyond the age of 18 is essential to promote the stability that is so important to future success and gives the best possible start to adult life.

“Currently, when care leavers are forced to live independently at the age of 18, the levels of support vary hugely.  Alarmingly, young people studying for A-Levels may be forced into independent living midway through their exam year – a time when family support is most needed.  This anomaly cannot continue.

I know my own local authority Stockton Borough has developed all manner of strategies for young care leavers but many others could do much more.”

Vicki Swain, Campaigns Manager at the Fostering Network, said: “None of us would see our own children moved out into a flat when they turned 18, often in the middle of their A-Levels, or worse in a hostel with nowhere to call home.

“All young people, especially in this economic climate, should have a place they can call home. Branching out into the world is a gradual journey and no one should be forced into independence before they are ready.”

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