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£1.67m fund to support children in care

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CHILDREN in care will receive financial support from the government for driving lessons, doctors’ fees and higher education, among other things, under a new scheme announced by the Children’s Minister.

Senator Sam Mézec Picture: ROB CURRIE. (27293242)

The Care Leavers’ Offer and Support Entitlement for Looked After Children, which is worth £1.67 million over three years, is the first initiative of its kind to be made available by the government.

Labelled a ‘landmark package’, it will fund users’ everyday needs that would normally be paid for by parents.

Announcing the funding at a briefing yesterday, Children’s Minister Sam Mézec said the programme was an important acknowledgement of the government’s role as ‘corporate parents’ in the Island, and added that the money would help children in care.

He said: ‘This is about the government enhancing its corporate parenting and helping not just those in care, but those who have left care.

‘It is a clear thing that shows that we are putting children first and it is a landmark package from the government.

‘This will be for the next three years and I would like to see this continued into the future. The aim is to reduce the amount of children in care. But if we need to amend the amount available then we will look to do that.

‘Corporate parenting and supporting care leavers are areas where it is accepted that Jersey has previously failed its looked-after children.’

Around 90 young people who are in care will benefit from the fund, along with 100 young care leavers aged between 18 and 25.

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The total cost of the offer is estimated to be £1.67 million, of which £1 million is new money made possible under the Government Plan and through existing budgets in income support and education.

There are also proposals that mean care leavers would have the opportunity to stay with foster parents until they are 21, and in some cases 25.

Also, shortly before or after their 14th birthday, children in care will be allocated a personal adviser to help guide them as they become young adults.

Director-general for Children, Young People, Education and Skills Mark Rogers said: ‘The content of the offer has been developed by a cross-government working group using case-study examples.

‘This has ensured that we have an offer that is both comprehensive and able to satisfy the corporate parenting test that asks: “Would this be good enough for my child?”.’

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