The Share Foundation runs the Junior ISA scheme for children and young people in care (known as 'Looked After') on behalf of the Department for Education.
The Share Foundation, or ‘Sharefound’ for short, has been running the Department for Education’s Junior ISA scheme for looked after children and young people since 2012, during which time it has benefited over 90,000 young people. Before that, it was making additional voluntary contributions to the Child Trust Funds of looked after children.
We believe strongly that all young people in care have great potential, not only to enjoy adult life to the full but also to achieve their hopes and dreams: and we're determined to help them do just that. That’s what we mean by ‘inspiring young people in care’.
So what is the Junior ISA scheme and how does it help?
1. It enables us to open an account for every child and young person under 18 throughout the United Kingdom who has been in care continuously for at least one year and who doesn't already have a Child Trust Fund. Local authorities are required by Government to provide us with the necessary details so that we can open these accounts, drawing down £200 from the Department for Education.
2. We administer the accounts, which are held with selected Junior ISA providers: this includes supplying information on their progress through the local authority concerned. This website has lots of information for carers, local authorities and young people in care on how the scheme works. To contribute to an individual account, please click here to download the form. Central co-ordination means that we can reduce the administrative workload to a minimum.
3. So that’s the account open and £200 in it, but that’s when our real work starts. We have two big aims:
· to help the young people with these accounts to be better prepared for adult life, by providing guidance on handling money; and · to raise additional voluntary contributions to build the value of the accounts themselves.
If we succeed in these aims the young person will have both life skills and some resources at 18 so that they're better prepared for adult life and more confident about their prospects.
When we first started we looked at these two big aims separately. However we've learnt that this is not nearly so effective as putting them together. This is because young people will naturally focus more on the guidance if there is a money incentive, and donors will give more readily if they know that the young people will be better prepared to use the money responsibly when they reach 18.
So that’s why we're introducing the Stepladder of Achievement, a program of incentivised learning for young people in care aged 15 to 17: six steps, after completion of which the young person will have an additional £1,500 in their Junior ISA ready for access at 18. For full details click on the button below:
Stepladder is a great development for the Junior ISA scheme, but unfortunately we can't roll it out across the country just like that. Firstly, it would require about £3 million - and voluntary fundraising doesn't happen overnight. Secondly, it will take time to make sure people know what to expect, and how to ensure that young people can get the best out of it.
However Stepladder works on the web and is very ‘scalable’. It will be available to everyone in due course, and as we can show evidence of it working and being of real benefit it will get much easier to raise those voluntary contributions.
So - enjoy the Sharefound website: there's lots here to encourage you.
Your generosity is vital to ensuring that the Junior ISA scheme is really effective for young people in care in your area. If you have made provision for your own children and/or grandchildren, please contribute now for those not so fortunate.