1st December 2020

Search to find homes for Somerset teenagers continues during pandemic

More homes are urgently needed in Somerset to provide vital support to young people as they move from care into adulthood.

Somerset County Council is highlighting the need to recruit more ‘Stepping Stones’ placements during National Care Leavers’ Week (26 October – 1 November).

Stepping Stones carers support young people leaving care as they make the transition to independent living. This often involves helping them gain crucial life skills and experience such as managing bills, cooking, shopping, accessing further education and employment opportunities, whilst providing a safe place for them to stay.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of children in care has risen nationally. With more than 300 young care leavers in Somerset currently, the demand for placements far outweighs availability.

Councillor Frances Nicholson, Lead Member for Children’s Services at Somerset County Council, said: “We are so grateful for the support and dedication of our Stepping Stones providers, particularly during such a challenging time.  But we do need more of them.  With more than 150 young people in our county leaving care every year, we must go on recruiting people for this invaluable scheme throughout the pandemic, so they can provide a safe home and the support our young people need on their way to independence.”

As a ‘Stepping Stones’ provider, you need to be aged 23 or over, have a spare room in your home, and ideally live in a Somerset town as it’s important our care leavers have access to good transport links and amenities, as well as career opportunities. In return, providers receive a weekly fee, starting at £185 per week, plus a little extra for food and utilities (up to £27.50) paid weekly by the young person from their allowance. Stepping Stones providers are also eligible for the same tax exemptions and relief as foster carers, but have much more flexibility to work full or part-time alongside their care role.

Stepping Stones placements are relatively short; anything from a few months to a couple of years.

There is no upper age limit – wisdom and experience are a bonus. We welcome people from all backgrounds and ethnicities, those who are single, LGBT, renting, or if they have children of their own already.

For more information visit www.fosteringinsomerset.org.uk or call 0800 5879900