SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
These procedures apply to young people who are or have been in care and are entitled to support after their 16th birthday.
There are three categories of those leaving care all of whom are entitled to support after their 16th birthday. The categories are Eligible, Relevant, and Former Relevant.
These Procedures also refer to Qualifying Young People who may receive support, advice and assistance after their 16th birthday.
Department for Education webpage on Children Leaving Care, which has links to several related pieces of guidance/information.
They are aged 16 or 17, have been Looked After for a period or periods totalling at least 13 weeks starting after their 14th birthday and are still living in a registered care placement. (This total does not include a series of pre-planned short-term placements of up to four weeks where the child has returned to the parent). There is a duty to support these young people up to the age of 18, wherever they are living.
Young people admitted to care after the age of 16 are protected by duties under Section 20 of the Children Act up to the age of 18. The Derbyshire Aftercare service are invited to attend the first Looked After Review, held at 20 working days, of these young people but will not usually offer a service until the young person is aged 17 years and 6 months.
The statutory definition and requirements to undertake a needs assessment, prepare a Pathway Plan, keep the Pathway Plan under review and appoint a Personal Adviser are now covered by Regulations 42, 43 and 44 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010.
They are aged 16 or 17 and are no longer living in a registered care placement, having previously been in the category of Eligible Young Person. In Derbyshire, a young person continues to be considered 'looked after' until their 18th birthday, even when they are living independently and are not subject to a Care Order. They will continue to have an allocated social worker and an Independent Reviewing Officer until the age of 18. In exceptional circumstances, a young person over 16 but under 18 who is living independently can choose not to be considered a Looked After Child whilst still receiving support from the after care service.
If after leaving care, a young person returns home for a period of 6 months or more to be cared for by a parent and the return home has been formally agreed as successful, he or she will no longer be a Relevant Young Person but can still receive support as a Qualifying child.
A young person is also Relevant if, having been in care for three months or more, he or she is then detained after their 16th birthday either in a hospital, remand centre, young offenders' institution or secure training centre. There is a duty to support Relevant Young People up to the age of 18, wherever they are living.
The statutory definition and requirements to stay in touch with the young person, undertake a needs assessment (unless this was done when the young person was 'Eligible'), prepare and keep the Pathway Plan under review, appoint a Personal Adviser (unless this was done when the young person was 'Eligible') and provide accommodation and assistance to meet his or her needs in relation to education, training or employment are now covered by Regulations 4 to 9 of the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010.
A maintenance allowance to the young person and accommodation costs will be met by Derbyshire County Council until the young person can access state benefits at the age of 18. The young person may be expected to make a contribution to this if they are earning a significant wage.
They are aged 18 to 21 (or up to 24 if in full-time further or higher education), and have left care having been previously either "Eligible", "Relevant" or both. There is a duty to consider the need to support these young people wherever they are living.
The statutory definition and requirements to stay in touch with the young person, keep the Pathway Plan under review, continue the appointment of a Personal Adviser and provide financial assistance near where the young person is employed or seeking employment/to enable the young person to pursue education or training remain unchanged they are now covered by Regulations 4 to 9 of the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010. These duties continue until the young person becomes 21 or, where the Pathway Plan sets out a programme of education or training beyond 21, they continue so long as the young person pursues the programme. The duty to pay a higher education bursary also continues, as before for those who started a course of higher education after 2008.
The duties of Local Authorities are extended in relation to Former Relevant Young People who inform the Local Authority of their wish to take up a programme of full time further or higher education after the age of 21 and under the age of 25. In relation to these young people, the Local authority has a duty to:
The duties of the Local Authority continue for as long as the young person pursues the programme of education or training in accordance with the Pathway Plan, and the Local Authority may disregard any interruption in the education/training if it is satisfied that the young person will resume it as soon as is reasonably practicable.
In each case where a care leaver requests this support, the Local Authority will need to assess the appropriateness of the course and how it will help the young person to achieve his or her ambitions. The extent of the practical and financial assistance provided will reflect the type of course, whether full - or part-time, and the young person's existing income.
The Care Leaver's Employment Project (CLEP) is a Derbyshire County Council initiative to support and enable young people who are in care or care leavers into employment education or training. They provide targeted interventions on all 18-19 year old care leavers who are at risk of being NEET and also accept referrals for care leavers aged 16-18 who have been identified as needing a work experience placement.
They are over the age of 16 and under the age of 21, (or up to 24 if in full-time further or higher education), and have been Looked After or, if disabled, have been Privately Fostered after reaching 16, but do not qualify as Eligible, Relevant or Former Relevant. They may receive support, advice and assistance wherever they are living. If in full-time further or higher education, this may include assistance in relation to securing vacation accommodation. They may also qualify if they are the subject of a Special Guardianship Order (SGO) and were Looked After immediately before the SGO was made. In these circumstances, the Local Authority where the child was looked after retains the responsibility for their after care support rather than where the child is living when they reach 16 years.
Any decision to cease looking after a child aged 16 or 17 who is Looked After other than by virtue of a Care Order, must be approved by the Director of Children's Services. The Director must be satisfied that:
Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children who are admitted to care before or after their 16th birthday will be eligible for aftercare support once they have been accommodated for a period of 13 weeks.
Services for Qualifying Young People will be determined by an assessment of need carried out by the Leaving Care Team.
The support offered, which could be financial, will focus upon helping the young person to manage and cope in the community and to manage the transition to adulthood. Attempts will be made to ensure that they are able to access suitable accommodation and maintain social and family links.
Where necessary, in addition to support, practical help should be offered to the young person. This could include helping to acquire basic living skills and consideration of health needs and choices. Where necessary, links will be made with other services and assistance can be provided when he or she has to have contact with other agencies. Advice and support should also be offered in relation to employment, training and educational opportunities.
Where a Qualifying Young Person accesses education, or training, financial assistance, this will be possible to the age of 24. This will ensure that he or she is able to take advantage of the opportunities being offered.
The young person's social worker should also help to identify, secure and pay for vacation accommodation, for those qualifying young people who have accessed higher education, or residential further education courses.
Approval for the provision of such financial support must be sought by the young person's social worker by making a written request to the Head of Service (Localities) responsible for the young person.
The request should specify the type of financial support sought the reason for the request and the total cost involved.
The Personal Adviser is seen as a 'function' rather than a specific person and the local authority should consider delegating it wholly or partially to the best person able to carry out the role out. (See Part 3, Regulation 8 of the Care Leavers (England) Regulations).
The Personal adviser should be someone who is best able engage with the young person and motivate them to take up, and best make use of, the services that are available and provided.The Personal Adviser should have the necessary skills and experience to carry out the function. The transfer of the role from social worker to Leaving Care Personal Adviser should be undertaken in a planned and managed way.
A Personal Adviser is the person appointed to work in relation to the Relevant child or Former Relevant child, on the young person's 16th birthday, and will occupy a key role in providing support to the young person after he or she leaves care. In Derbyshire this function is undertaken by the child's social worker at the age of 16 and is taken over by the (Barnardos) aftercare worker when the child reaches 17.5 years (unless the child is identified as having additional needs or is vulnerable and an aftercare service is agreed prior to this).
The Care Leavers (England) Regulations (2010) set out the details of the functions of the Personal Adviser for an eligible child (Regulation 44). The Personal Adviser will:
Where accommodation is provided to a young person by the responsible authority under section 23B or section 24B, of the Children Act 1989, the Personal Adviser must visit the Relevant child or Former Relevant child at that accommodation:
On each visit, the Personal Adviser must consider whether the accommodation continues to be suitable for the young person.
When allocating a Personal Adviser to an individual young person, consideration must be given to the wishes of the young person and to issues of gender, race, religion, linguistics, disabilities and equal opportunities. The assessment of need and a judgment as to who is most appropriate to fulfil the role of Personal Adviser will influence the choice and allocation of worker.
Care leavers under the age of 25 who wish to take up a programme of education or training will have an entitlement to resume support from a Personal Adviser previously responsible for their leaving care support.
For young people with disabilities, who have been considered Looked After by the local authority, if there is someone able to appropriately exercise Parental Responsibility, there is no need for a worker to make a referral to the Leaving Care Service. Post 18, the social worker from Adult Services will undertake the role of Personal Adviser and will liaise and consult with Leaving Care Service as required. The documentation held within the transition episode will constitute the Pathway Plan and the worker from Adult Services will not need to complete the My Pathway Plan document.
The Personal Adviser should be kept up-to-date with the young person's progress and well-being.
The social worker for the young person will undertake all the statutory duties relating to the young person who is Looked After. These include the statutory visits, maintaining the care planning and review documentation, liaising with carers and all issues relating to the young person's health and welfare. As stated above, the social worker will also assume the Personal Adviser role for most young people up to the age of 17.5 years. This will include completing the leaving care assessment of need through the Care Planning and Review documentation and completing the Pathway Plan.
The social worker will also:
The episode commences from the LAC Care Planning and Review episode when the young person is 17.5 years old. The Independent Reviewing Officer will select the outcome:
and pass it to the named social worker.
There will be occasions when the young person has additional needs or requires independent living and support prior to this point. In these situations, the IRO can select the Children's Services Aftercare Referral outcome at an earlier review or the social worker can initiate the episode themselves through the new episode drop down box.
Whenever the episode is initiated, the social worker will complete the first section of the form and send it to (Barnardos) Aftercare service by selecting the outcome:
The Aftercare manager will open the referral document, complete the second section of the form and select an outcome. There are two possible outcomes:
The Aftercare manager will inform the social worker of the outcome. The social worker will arrange a Professionals' Transition Planning Meeting. Attendees should include:
When the referral is agreed, the current Pathway Plan and Review episode should be finished with the most recent My Pathway Plan uploaded and the outcome:
All Young People - Eligible, Relevant or Former Relevant - must receive an assessment of their needs as to the advice, assistance and support they will need when leaving care.
The young person's social worker will be responsible for co-ordinating the Needs Assessment, which in Derbyshire is provided by an up to date child or young person Care and Placement Plan. The social worker should ensure that the views of relevant others are sought when writing the Care and Placement Plan, including the young person, their carer and other involved agencies.
This assessment should be completed no more than 3 months after the young person's 16th birthday or after the young person becomes Eligible or Relevant, if this is later. The timetable must take account of any forthcoming exams and avoid disrupting the young person's preparation for them.
The young person's social worker will be responsible for recording the assessment information and conclusions as well as the outcome of any meetings held.
A decision not to include significant people must be recorded in the young person's file.
Young people with particular language or communication needs should be provided throughout the process with appropriate interpretation, translation or advocacy support.
Where the young person refuses to engage in the assessment process, this should be recorded, together with any actions taken to ascertain the young person's views.
The social worker is responsible for ensuring that the outcome of the assessment is explained to the young person.
The Assessment will inform the development of a Pathway Plan.
When carrying out an assessment of needs, the local authority must determine whether it would be appropriate to provide advice, assistance and support to facilitate a Staying Put arrangement. Where they determine that it would be appropriate, and where the child and the local authority foster parent wish to make a Staying Put arrangement, then the local authority must provide such advice, assistance and support to facilitate a Staying Put arrangement. For further information see the Staying Put Procedure.
For further information see Appendix 1: Needs Assessment and Content of Pathway Plans for Relevant and Former Relevant Children.
The Pathway Plan sets out the ambitions and route to the future for young people leaving care and will state how their needs will be met in their path to independence. The plan will continue to be implemented and reviewed after they leave care at least until they are 21; and up to 24 if in education.
All young people will have a Pathway Plan in place within 3 months of becoming Eligible and, wherever possible, a Pathway Plan will be in place by the young person's 16th birthday. From November 2012, the pathway planning episode will commence from the LAC Care Planning and Review episode on Mosaic where the outcome Develop Pathway Plan is selected by the Independent Reviewing Officer when the young person is 15.5 years.
From September 2014, the Pathway Plan will run instead of the Care and Placement Plan and is now the primary document. Any Personal Education Plan or Careers Action Plan will inform and complement the Pathway Plan. Personal Education Plans are no longer required once the young person completes their statutory education but, from September 2014,16+ PEPs are being undertaken to support a focus on learning.
My Pathway Plan will be uploaded to the Planning and Review episode on case records.
Two further word documents are also completed and uploaded to support young people in the pathway planning process, these are:
Each young person will be central to drawing up their own Pathway Plan setting the goals and identifying how the local authority will help meet them, including any services being provided in respect of the young person's disability or needs arising from being in custody or as a result of entering the country as an unaccompanied asylum seeker. It should be written in a way that meets the needs of the young person, capturing their aspirations and key messages. Young people with particular language or communication needs should be provided throughout the process with appropriate interpretation, translation or advocacy support.
The Pathway Plan must clearly identify the roles of each person who has a part to play in supporting the care leaver.
The Pathway Plan should also include:
The Pathway Plan must address in particular:
The Pathway Plan must identify contingency arrangements that will come into effect to support the young person if, for whatever reason, the planned arrangements are not realised.
The local authority should have a flexible approach to supporting young people; It should be borne in mind that the it has a duty to accept young people aged 16 and 17 years back into care if a young person's decision to move into semi-independent accommodation, leave care or decline leaving care services is then identified as premature.
A Financial Summary should be attached to the Plan, at the latest from the point where the young person leaves care.
Where a transfer from Children's to Adult Services will be required, the Plan should specify who has responsibility for giving notice to Adult Services and liaising with them to ensure a smooth transition. See Section 9, Transition to Adult Social Care.
The responsible service manager (Social Care) should approve the Pathway Plan and complete the verification box on the pathway plan document. Once the Aftercare service is involved, a manager from this service should approve the plan.
On completion and approval of the Pathway Plan, all parties involved including the young person should sign it.
The young person will be provided with a copy of the most up to date Pathway Plan and the contents must be explained.
The young person will have a say about with whom the Pathway Plan will be shared when they leave care. If information is to be shared with a person or agency that the young person has not consented to, s/he must be informed of this, with reasons, and be given the opportunity to challenge this decision and to be present when the information is shared.
Those who have a role in implementing the plan should have a copy of the Pathway Plan, at least, of the part relating to their contribution.
The Pathway Plan must be reviewed at least every 6 months.
Reviews should take place more often if requested by the young person or the Personal Adviser or where there has been a significant change in the young person's circumstances.
The purpose of the review is to check that the goals and milestones are still right and that they are being met. All levels of support should be reviewed to ensure that they are adequate and delivered according to plan.
For an Eligible Young Person, the date for the first review of the Pathway Plan will be set to coincide with the young person's next Looked After Review after the Pathway Plan has been drawn up.
For a Relevant Young Person, the date for the first review will, if possible, be set at the last Looked After Review before the young person ceases to be looked after and in any case within six months of becoming a relevant young person.
For a Former Relevant Young Person, the date for the first review will take place within six months of the young person's 18th birthday.
Whilst the young person is Eligible and Relevant his or her Independent Reviewing Officer will chair reviews or support the young person to chair.
Otherwise, the Team Manager of the Leaving Care Service or his/her nominee will chair the Pathway Plan reviews or support the young person to chair.
The Pathway Plan review immediately prior to the young person's 18th birthday will agree how future reviews will be conducted, including whether they will involve face to face meetings, and this will be recorded by the Chairperson. In all cases, even when no formal review meetings are held, the Team Manager of the Leaving Care Service will retain a monitoring role, at six monthly intervals, to check the progress of the Pathway Plan.
Other participants at reviews should include the young person, Personal Adviser, the social worker (if the case is still allocated) and any other significant person.
The young person's expenses (travelling and subsistence) in attending the review will be met by the local authority.
If the Relevant Young Person or Former Relevant Young Person moves to 'unregulated' accommodation (i.e. accommodation that is not regulated/inspected by OFSTED), the Local Authority must:
Matters to which the Local Authority is to have regard in determining suitability of accommodation (under Schedule 2 to the Care Leavers Regulations 2010 and Schedule 6 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010):
It is good practice for a review to be held within 28 days of any change in the care leaver's accommodation.
Note: Bed and Breakfast Accommodation is not considered as suitable accommodation other than in exceptional circumstances. On such occasions:
Where a Relevant or Former Relevant Young Person enters custody, pathway planning must continue. The young person must be visited on a regular basis and it is good practice for the first visit to take place within ten working days. The role must not be fulfilled by a YOT worker. The Local Authority must liaise with the YOT or Probation Providers to support the young person emotionally, practically and financially while in custody. A review of the Pathway Plan should be carried out at least a month before the young person's release to give sufficient time to plan for his or her resettlement, including identifying suitable accommodation where the young person's placement had to be given up or has been lost and identifying who will collect the young person and the sources of support after his or her release.
In the event of a Relevant or Former Relevant Young Person breaking off contact and/or not engaging with the agreed support and advice being offered, a review of the Pathway Plan may take place by telephone, e-mail or letter, if agreed in advance by the Chairperson and the Personal Adviser. In these circumstances the Personal Adviser will attempt to negotiate a revised plan that is acceptable to all parties.
Where contact is lost, the emphasis of the Pathway Plan Review will switch to record how attempts will be made to re-establish contact and these efforts will be reviewed within the established system.
A route back for the young person to seek support in the future should be kept open and communicated, for example by sending birthday cards and appropriate festive greetings, and ensuring that the young person receives any circulated information about services or events in which they may have an interest.
Where a Pathway Plan is amended as a result of a review, the Personal Adviser will amend the Plan. Any necessary approval to the amended financial arrangements will be sought from the Designated Manager (Leaving Care). Once the changes are approved, the Personal Adviser will send a copy of the amended Plan to the young person, the Chairperson and the Designated Manager.
Care leavers must be provided with access to high quality information, advice and guidance to inform their plans in order to progress into continuing education, training or employment. How this will be met should be included in the Pathway Plan. They should be offered work experience and other opportunities to allow them to test their career aspirations and needs. Career planning tools should be used to inform Pathway Plans.
The local authority should make every effort not to disrupt a young person's education during their key stage 4 years, both in terms of their school and care placement unless the circumstances clearly require this (see also Education of Children in Care Procedure, Avoidance of Disruption in Education).Placement arrangements for young people considering attending university, from their 18th birthday to the point they commence higher education courses, must be addressed and agreed well in advance of their 18th birthday. Plans need to be made for the vacation breaks. The local authority should not move a young person participating in a course of education during the academic year after their 18th birthday.
Where young people are continuing with an education or training course beyond their 21st birthday, the practical and financial support being provided must continue to be set out in their Pathway Plan.Pathway Plans must set out accommodation arrangements, including financial arrangements during term time, short vacations and the long summer vacation.
The 16-19 Bursary Fund helps 16-19 year olds continue in further education, where they might face financial barriers to participation such as the cost of transport, food or equipment. Young people in the defined group include those in care and care leavers. The Higher Education Bursary is for care leavers in higher education.
Young people previously eligible for leaving care services resuming programmes of education or training after the age of 21 are entitled to continuing support from a Personal Adviser.
The definition of a programme of education or training must be interpreted broadly. For example, this might include options such as: completion of a basic skills course, so that the young person has the numeracy and literacy skills needed to compete in the jobs market; take up of a course of further education; take up of a university place; support to enable the young person to complete a recognised postgraduate qualification; or participation in vocational training and apprenticeships.
Where a care leaver requests this support, an assessment should be made to assess the appropriateness of the education or training course and how it will help them to achieve their ambitions. The leaving care team should meet with the young person and, based on the assessment of their needs and the suitability of the course, assign a Personal Adviser to participate in the preparation of a Pathway Plan. The plan should reflect the agreed educational outcomes for the young person and the type of support the young person will require. This assessment should draw on the information about the young person's skills and capabilities which will have been set out in Pathway Plans up to age 21. The extent of practical and financial assistance provided will depend on the assessment of the young person's needs and will reflect the type of course, whether it is full or part time and the young person's existing income.
All care leavers (including those who live out of authority) should be made aware of their entitlement to a Personal Adviser up to age 25 if they wish to return to education and training, including by the provision of information (e.g. a letter or leaflet) on how to get in touch in the future. It should be explained to them that they will be supported to overcome difficulties so that they can return to education or training up to age 25 if this is their wish. In particular, all young people who are not in education, employment, or training (NEET) should be encouraged to take up this offer of support.
This entitlement to resume the pathway planning process and a support relationship with a Personal Adviser starts from the time the young person informs the local authority of their intention to resume their education or training and ends with the completion of the course. This may include the need for continuing assistance where young people seek support to complete a series of education/training opportunities. Young people do not need to have decided what education or training they would like to pursue. In such cases, the Personal Adviser should help the young person identify the options best suited to them.Care leavers will need support and guidance to help them think about and plan their return to education or training, consider all aspects such as financial support and impact on housing or benefits. The re-instated Pathway Plan must have a specific focus on the support that the care leaver will need to be able to meet the education or training goals agreed.
This is made following a review or pathway planning decision that the young person will have need of adult services post 18 years. The social worker will initiate the Framework episode Transition Planning for Young Person to Adult Social Care at the appropriate stage and age for that young person. If they have profound or complex needs, this could take place from the age of 14 years. The episode remains open until the transition to adult services is finalised. The document CIN Transition Planning and Review is designed to record actions taken and progress in transition as an ongoing record and can be added to by both child and adult workers. The minutes of transition meetings should be uploaded to this episode.
Where a care leaver resides in a different local authority area, the originating local authority must seek to ensure that a service is provided that is commensurate with the service which he or she would receive if he or she had remained resident in the area.
The originating local authority must notify the host local authority in writing that a care leaver has moved in to their area.
Whenever possible, plans for movement of care leavers to a different local authority area must be discussed and the level of service provision agreed with the host authority concerned prior to the move taking place.
All care leavers should be advised on how to access care leavers' services if they move to a different local authority area and need assistance. The advice provided should be in written form.
With young people moving to other authorities, a discussion and joint meeting between the respective Leaving Care Teams must be arranged.
Under the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010 and Planning Transition into Adulthood for Care Leavers Guidance, the Local Authority must provide information about extending placements post-18, covering:
See also Staying Put Procedure.
Young people may also 'stay put' in children's homes or other residential settings beyond the age of 18, if this enables them to complete an educational course or qualification. This needs to be considered at their first Looked After Review following his or her 16th birthday, and agreement obtained from the relevant Head of Service (Localities) and Head of Children in Care Provision.
For a young person living in foster care, the first Looked After Review following his or her 16th birthday should consider whether a Staying Put placement should be an option. This will entail assessing the implications for both the young person and the foster carer.
Within the aftercare service in Derbyshire, there is a worker with specific responsibility for assessing Staying Put and Supported Lodgings arrangements.
Following the young person's 18th birthday, the legal basis on which they occupy the property (former foster home) changes (the legal term is that the young person becomes an 'excluded licensee' lodging in the home) - this should not denote that the young person will be treated differently than they were as a fostered child.
Procedures should be agreed at the outset about how any wish by the carer to bring the arrangements to an end should be managed.
While Fostering Regulations will no longer legally apply to these arrangements, key standards should continue to govern the expectations of the placement when the young person reaches 18. These may be:
The Local Authority will need to assess individual circumstances and consider the appropriateness of all of these checks particularly where the young person is the only person placed/living with their carer/s and it is not envisaged that further children will be placed.
Over the course of their lifetime, people who have spent all or part of their childhood and adolescence in local authority care may want to access information about this period in their lives. There can be a range of reasons why people who have left care want to do this, including curiosity about why they came into care; what happened and when; a need to make sense of difficult memories and life events; to clarify disparate explanations; a desire to trace family members; seeking medical information in reference to hereditary illness/disease and also to obtain photos/certificates. For information on access to records by care leavers, see the Derbyshire County Council Website.
All those eligible for support under these procedures and qualifying young people over the age of 16 have access to the Complaints and Representations Procedure.
Only valid for 48hrs