The Share Foundation runs the Junior ISA and Child Trust Fund schemes for children and young people in care (known as 'Looked After') on behalf of the Department for Education. 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 through the provision of financial education and resources, and by encouraging a positive attitude for the future. That’s what we mean by ‘inspiring young people in care’.
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 100,000 young people. Before that, it was making additional voluntary contributions to the Child Trust Funds of looked after children and, as from 2nd October 2017, we took on responsibility for the Child Trust Fund scheme from the Official Solicitor in addition to the Junior ISA scheme.
Our main focus with the Child Trust Fund has been the reconciliation of the CTF scheme for young people in care, as we discovered that less than 25% of accounts for these young people were recorded in the transfers received from the Official Solicitor. However, further analysis during 2018 has shown that very large numbers of families and young people are unaware of their accounts, particularly among the most disadvantaged (those in receipt of Child Tax Credit). We are therefore undertaking a programme of general recovery for the scheme, part of which is our CTF Ambassadors initiative. A Westminster Hall debate brought by Helen Goodman MP on 13th March 2019 brought this challenge into sharp relief.
The Junior ISA scheme for young people in care works as follows:
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;
· to raise additional voluntary contributions to build the value of the accounts themselves.
The Child Trust Fund scheme applies for children born between 1st September 2002 and 2nd January 2011; the accounts were set up within one year of birth, and the Government contributions were more substantial than for the Junior ISA scheme described above. Click here for more information about Child Trust Funds generally. Our role is to reconcile the scheme and to administer the accounts in the same way as Junior ISAs, providing financial education and resources and additional funds so that they're better prepared for adult life and more confident about their prospects.
That’s why we introduced the Stepladder of Achievement, a program of building life skills for young people in care aged 15 to 17: six steps incorporating literacy, numeracy and financial education. It's available throughout the United Kingdom in its standard form; but if, with the co-operation of local authorities, we can find donors to provide additional voluntary incentives, we will provide the 'Stepladder Plus' version for young people in care from those areas. In this version the young person can 'earn' up to an additional £1,500 in their account ready for access at 18. For full details click on the web page button below, or watch the video prepared for local authorities:
Stepladder of Achievement for young people in care
Please note that the Stepladder programme works on the web and is very ‘scalable’, and in its standard form it's available to all young people in care with Junior ISA and Child Trust Fund accounts aged 15-17, and for care leavers uo to the age of 25.
Stepladder Plus is a great development for the Junior ISA and Child Trust Fund schemes, but unfortunately we have to restrict it to specific local authorities due to the challenge of securing voluntary funding.
For further information on the Child Trust Fund transfer, please click here.
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.