Minister: let children in foster families stay until 21

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Children in foster care could be allowed to stay with their families until the age of 21 under plans put forward by health minister Hugo de Jonge.

At the moment foster families’ legal responsibilities end when the child reaches 18, along with their funding. ‘Young people who reach the age of 18 still aren’t the finished article,’ said De Jonge. ‘And that’s certainly true for children who’ve grown up in foster families. Their domestic situation is much more complicated.’

The minister wants to make 21 the standard age at which fostering ends. ‘A child should only be able to leave the family before the age of 21 if they’re really ready for it,’ he said.

Currently 21,685 foster children are living in 16,647 foster families in the Netherlands. The parents receive a monthly contribution of around €530 a month until the child’s 18th birthday. It is possible to extend the term of care to the age of 23, but parents’ groups say many local authorities are reluctant to continue supporting them.

‘These children are more likely to have problems with attachment which can affect their lives in various ways,’ Janette Reukers of Pleegzorg Nederland told RTL Nieuws. Foster children have a higher risk of falling into debt, crime and prostitution after they leave home.

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