The following is an extract from The Fostering Network's newsletter "Fostering in Scotland" May 2019 edition.

I am very happy that the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation have granted us 5 years of funding to use the law in order to help care leavers realise their rights and challenge decision makers when they do not meet their legal duty towards care leavers. For example, since 2015 young people who are in care have been entitled to accommodation and support to help them make the transition into adulthood. In certain circumstances, young people have the option to stay in care up to the age of 21 and an entitlement to stronger after care support up to the age of 26. However, we have found in our work with care experienced young people that these rights are not being respected or realised – many care leavers are not being provided with the support they are entitled to. This can mean that they struggle as they are moving into adult life, and as a care experienced individual myself, I know first-hand just how hard this struggle can be.

This example and many more like it are why we have set up a dedicated Care Leavers Law Service, we hope that we find cases that question and challenge practice at a high level, because we aim to change it.

The Care Leavers Law Service will primarily provide legal advice and representation to care leavers across Scotland and those like yourselves who support and represent them. The project will additionally provide practical training and step-by-step guidance to those who are working with and supporting care leavers so they can help care leavers to assert their rights and easily access legal help where it’s needed. We will also take what we learn from the project and feed it back to people with an influence in making the law work better for care leavers.

As foster carers, you are the ones who may be able to identify if/and/or when the child in your care needs a bit more support or are having their rights violated. You as a foster carer are the mum, dad, advocate, nurse, mentor, educator and all-round champion. As a foster carer, I am sure that you all want the very best for the young people in your care

Sara Lurie (Director for the Fostering Network in Scotland) and I were talking recently about continuing care and she informed me that the Foster Line call service has been inundated with calls from foster carers, that young people are not being made aware of their entitlement and social workers not willing to explain it to them either. That’s really sad because Continuing Care has so much potential to provide security and support, if it is implemented correctly.

On Thursday the 21st of March Clan Childlaw’s Head of Representation Julia Donnelly and I will be attending the Fostering Network’s Members Conference in Edinburgh. Firstly, we will be there to introduce ourselves to you, tell you a bit about what we do here at Clan Childlaw and to let you and your young people know how you can get in touch with us and how we may be able to assist your young person if legal intervention is required.

If you would like to chat more about the issues the Care Leavers Law Service could help you with in your role as foster carers, so please feel free to contact me with your questions by email: [email protected]