Young people leaving foster care are not receiving adequate support from Dorset councils, says a local fostering agency.
Manager Vanda Leigh, of Footprints Foster Care in Ferndown, said there is a lack of investment in supporting care leavers once they turn 18.
“The bottom line is the local authorities haven’t got the money to invest [in foster care] to the extent that it should be invested in,” said Mrs Leigh.
“A child doesn’t suddenly become an adult at 18, and it’s this age group that often lacks the capacity to continue to pay rent. And a lot are evicted and end up homeless”.
Care leavers’ service
The criticism comes despite Bournemouth Borough Council recently announcing greater support for young care leavers in the area.
“We have a care leavers’ service with dedicated personal and education advisors who work closely with young people to provide one-to-one support and advice on a number of issues,” it said in a press release.
The service will include a mentoring programme with local organisations, as well as a free support helpline during evenings and weekends.
But Mrs Leigh says more can be done to provide support.
“Yes there are mentors, there is a leaving care team and advisors, but their statutory obligation is pretty limited,” she said.
The council is highlighting the subject as part of National Care Leavers’ Week during the last week of October.
Councillor Nicola Greene, who is also Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services, said, “I am very proud of our dedicated care leavers’ team who are working hard to enhance the range of help available for our young people to help them achieve their potential as they become independent”.
And Kayleigh, a Bournemouth care leaver said, “My personal adviser helped me to bid on a council flat which I was successful in getting”.
“I am so grateful for the support I have received to enable me to set up my own home”.