Calls to increase care leaving age

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A Kirklees cabinet member has backed a claim by the Children’s Commissioner that people should be allowed to stay in care until they are 25.

Erin Hill, member for Family Support and Child Protection has agreed with Anne Longfield, who during in interview with the Independent newspaper, said it was unfair to cut support for children in care as soon as they reach 18.

This is because many young people outside the care system live in family homes well into their 20s and the average age for first-time home ownership is now 37.

Coun Hill said: “I absolutely welcome this announcement from the Commissioner. Care leavers are among the most vulnerable and socially excluded groups in Kirklees.

“As an authority, we are responsible for these children and young people – that shouldn’t just end on an arbitrary date with no consideration of that individual’s needs and development.”

New polling published by the Commissioner shows that a third of care leavers did not feel ready to leave. Fears of falling into drugs and the sex trade were prevalent, and despite making up less than on per cent of the national population, make up 24 per cent of the adult prison population.

“It’s obvious from these statisticsthat we have to go further to look after care leavers. Young people now increasingly rely on their families for support.

“If you don’t have that network, then where can you go?”