Leaving Care and Transition
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.
In June 2020, this guidance was reviewed and updated throughout to reflect current arrangements for supporting young people in Derbyshire as they prepare to leave care.
The Children and Social Work Act 2017 introduced 3 new provisions:
- A duty on local authorities which requires them to offer Leaving Care Worker support to all care leavers towards whom the local authority had duties under Section 23C of the Children Act 1989, up to age 25 - irrespective of whether they are engaged in education or training.
- A duty on local authorities to consult on and then publish their 'local offer' for care leavers, which sets out both care leavers' legal entitlements and the additional discretionary support that the local authority provides; and
- A duty on local authorities which requires them to have regard to seven 'corporate parenting principles', that will guide the way in which the local authority provides its services to children in care and care leavers.
These are specific requirements in addition to the existing provisions relating to support for care leavers. The Children and Social Work Act does not extend all care leaver support to age 25.
The duty that extends Leaving Care Worker support (where requested) to all care leavers means that the local authority continues to exercise functions in respect of care leavers to age 25 and should therefore apply the corporate parenting principles when exercising those functions.
The ultimate aim of leaving care services is to support care leavers so that they can live successful independent lives. Each care leaver will reach that point at a different age and there should be no assumption that the duty means that all care leavers will require statutory support until the age of 25.
The duty therefore means that local authorities do not necessarily need to provide the same level of support to care leavers aged 21 to 25 as it does for those aged 18-20. The duty does however enable local authorities to respond positively to requests for support from care leavers aged 21-25 who may be continuing to struggle with the transition to independence and adult life.
Eligible Young People
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 ending at least 1 day after their 16th birthday, and are still in care. (This total does not include a series of pre-planned short-term placements of up to 4 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.
The statutory definition and requirements to undertake a needs assessment, prepare a Pathway Plan, keep the Pathway Plan under review and appoint a Leaving Care Worker are covered by Regulations 42, 43 and 44 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010.
Relevant Young People
They are aged 16 or 17 and are no longer Looked After, having previously been in the category of Eligible Young Person when in care (that is they have been Looked After for a period or periods totalling at least 13 weeks after their 14th birthday and ending at least 1 day after their 16th birthday). However, 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, they will no longer be a Relevant Young Person.
A young person is also Relevant if, having been in care for 3 months or more, they are 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 Leaving Care Worker (unless this was done when the young person was 'Eligible') and provide accommodation and assistance to meet their needs in relation to education, training or employment are covered by Regulations 4 to 9 of the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010.
A Young Person Discharged from Being Looked After
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:
- The child's wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration;
- The child's Independent Reviewing Officer has been consulted;
- The child's relatives have been consulted, where appropriate;
- A Single Assessment has been completed to inform the decision making;
- An up-to-date Pathway plan is prepared;
- There is a clear plan for ongoing support;
- Should the child subsequently be considered a Child in Need, an allocated Social Worker must remain the statutory allocated worker.
Eligible Children are entitled to the same level of support as every other Looked After Child, during this important part of their development and transition. They should remain allocated to a social worker within the district teams.
Qualifying Young PeopleThey are aged 16 and over and under the age of 21, and:
- Subject to a Special Guardianship Order (or were when they reached 18) and were looked after immediately before the making of that Order;
- At any time after 16 (but whilst still a child), were (but no longer are) looked after, accommodated or fostered.
'Looked after accommodated or fostered' includes:
- Looked After by a local authority;
- Accommodated by or on behalf of a voluntary organisation;
- Accommodated in a private children's home;
- Accommodated for a consecutive period of at least 3 months (including even before the child was 16) by a Health Authority, CCG or Local Authority (providing education), in:
- A care home;
- Independent hospital;
- National Health Service trust or Foundation Trust.
- Privately Fostered - but do not qualify as Eligible, Relevant or Former Relevant.
Where a local authority looked after, accommodated or fostered a young person, and they are deemed as Qualifying for advice and assistance, the local authority has a duty to take reasonable steps to contact them with a view to advising and assisting them.
This includes considering financial assistance in relation to expenses incurred in living near the place where the young person is, will be, or is seeking work or where they will be receiving education or training; or where the person is in full time further or higher education, is under the age of 25 and qualifies for advice and assistance, or would have done if they were under 21, assistance in relation to securing vacation accommodation. Qualifying Care Leavers do not automatically receive an allocated Leaving Care Worker.
3. Leaving Care Responsibilities
- Appoint a Leaving Care Worker;
- Carry out an assessment of the needs to determine what assistance (if any) it would be appropriate to provide;
- Prepare a Pathway Plan;
- Give assistance to the extent that the young person's educational or training needs require it. The kinds of assistance are: contributing to expenses incurred by the young person in living near the place where they are, or will be, receiving education or training; or making a grant to enable the young person to meet expenses connected with their education and training.
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 their 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.
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 they have 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 they are 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.
4. Leaving Care Worker
The Leaving Care Worker 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 Leaving Care Worker 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 Leaving Care Worker should have the necessary skills and experience to carry out the function. The transfer of the role from social worker to Leaving Care Worker should be undertaken in a planned and managed way.
A Leaving Care Worker 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 they leave care. The Care Leavers (England) Regulations (2010) set out the details of the functions of the Leaving Care Worker for an eligible child (Regulation 44). The Leaving Care Worker will:
- Hold a pivotal role (where applicable) in the assessment, planning and review of services as set out in the Pathway Plan, and will co-ordinate with other agencies as necessary for children aged over 18 years;
- Act as the young person's principal source of contact in any matter relating to the Pathway Plan and is accountable for the effective implementation of the Plan;
- Ensure the co-ordination of other agencies and individuals identified in the Pathway Plan;
- Keep in touch with the young person and to remain informed as to the young person's progress;
- Maintain a written record of their contacts with the young person, monitoring the effectiveness of services in preparing the young person for a time when they will move to greater independence or when they cease to be looked after;
- Take responsibility for initiating the review of the Pathway Plan and for recording its outcomes;
- Promote opportunities to help the young person to engage in relevant education and training opportunities.
Where accommodation is provided to a young person by the responsible authority under section 23B or section 24B, of the Children Act 1989, the Leaving Care Worker must visit the Relevant child or Former Relevant child at that accommodation:
- Within 7 days of the accommodation first being provided;
- Subsequently, before the Pathway Plan is reviewed; and
- At subsequent intervals of not more than 2months.
On each visit, the Leaving Care Worker must consider whether the accommodation continues to be suitable for the young person.
When allocating a Leaving Care Worker 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 Leaving Care Worker 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 Leaving Care Worker 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 Leaving Care Worker and will liaise and consult with the 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 Leaving Care Worker should be kept up-to-date with the young person's progress and well-being.
5. Social Workers
The social worker for the young person will undertake all the statutory duties relating to the young person who is Looked After. It is the social worker’s responsibility to complete the referral to the Leaving Care Service for any young person prior to their 16th birthday for allocation to Leaving Care Worker at 16, 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. The social worker is responsible for the Pathway Plan until the child is 18. Prior to the social worker closing the young person they MUST have an up to date Pathway Plan. The social worker will also:
- Make the application for the young person's National Insurance number;
- Ensure that the young person has sufficient ID to open a bank account;
- Ensure that a bank account is set up;
- Obtain a birth certificate if not already available;
- Co-ordinate the pathway planning process prior to the young person reaching 16;
- Prepare and review the Pathway Plan until the young person reaches 17.5;
- Maintain case responsibility for the young person until they reach 18;
- Ensure the Health Passport / Summary is on file where completed.
Co-ordinate with the Leaving care worker for advance Universal Credit claim, where necessary.
Ensure young person has all relevant qualifications and achievement, alongside the Leaving Care Worker.
6. Referral to the Leaving Care Service
The Leaving Care workflow step should be completed prior to the child’s 16th birthday. For admission in to care after a 16th birthday, the social worker must immediately refer to the Leaving Care Service.
Leaving Care Worker attendance at all subsequent Looked After Reviews should be prioritised with a clear plan of work agreed to support a positive transition.
7. Leaving Care Assessment of Need
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.
8. Pathway Planning
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. Children in Care Team Managers should not agree a Care Plan workflow step without a completed Pathway Plan.
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 plan for the young person's continuing education or training when they cease to be looked after - where the young person is no longer of statutory school age, the Pathway Plan may need to incorporate the goals and actions that were previously included in the PEP and/or refer to the 16+ PEP;
- How the Responsible Local Authority will assist the young person in obtaining employment or other purposeful activity or occupation, taking into account their aspirations, skills and educational potential to improve their chance of employability;
- Access to the FromCare2Work programme for Care Leavers funded by the Department For Education if appropriate;
- The financial support to be provided to enable the young person to meet accommodation and maintenance costs; taking into account their financial capabilities and money-management capacity, along with strategies to develop skills in this area;
- The nature and level of contact and personal support to be provided, and by whom, to the young person;
- Details of the accommodation the young person is to occupy (including an assessment of its suitability in the light of the young person's needs, and details of the considerations taken into account in assessing that suitability);
- Details of the arrangements made by the Responsible Local Authority to meet the young person's needs in relation to their identity, with particular regard to their religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background.
The Pathway Plan must address in particular:
- The young person's health and development building on the information included in the young person's Health Care Plan;
- Education, training and employment. The Personal Education Plan (PEP) should continue to be maintained while the young person continues to receive full or part-time education. Information within the PEP will feed directly into the Pathway Plan. Pathway Plans must have an explicit focus on career planning, taking into account the young person's aspirations, skills, and educational potential;
- Contact with the young person's parents, wider family including siblings and friends and the capacity of this network to encourage the young person and enable them to make a positive transition to adulthood;
- The young person's financial capabilities and money management capacity, along with strategies to develop the young person's skills in this area.
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 11, Transition to Adult Social Care.
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, they 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.
9. Reviews of Pathway Plans
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 Leaving Care Worker 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 6 months of becoming a relevant young person.
For a Former Relevant Young Person, the date for the first review will take place within 6 months of the young person's 18th birthday.
Whilst the young person is Eligible and Relevant their Independent Reviewing Officer will chair reviews or support the young person to chair.
Otherwise, the Team Manager of the Leaving Care Service or their nominee will chair the Pathway Plan reviews or support the young person to chair.
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:
- Inform the Independent Reviewing Officer;
- Arrange a review 28 days (or as soon as practicable thereafter) from the time the accommodation is provided, and update the Pathway Plan;
- Determine at what intervals (not exceeding 6 months) subsequent reviews will be carried out;
- Pathway Plan Reviews should be brought forward where there is an assessed risk that a crisis may develop in a young person's life, for example:
- Where a young person has been charged with an offence and there is a possibility of their being sentenced to custody, which will risk losing their accommodation;
- Where a young person is at risk of being evicted from their accommodation or otherwise threatened with homelessness;
- Where professionals are concerned about the parenting capacity of a 'Relevant' or 'Former Relevant' young person with there being a possibility that their own child may need to be the subject of a multi-agency safeguarding plan;
- Where a young person requests a review.
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):
- In respect of the accommodation:
- The facilities and services provided;
- The state of repair;
- The safety;
- The location;
- The support;
- The tenancy status; and
- The financial commitments involved for the relevant young person and their affordability.
- In respect of the Relevant young person:
- Their views about the accommodation;
- Their understanding of their rights and responsibilities in relation to the accommodation; and
- Their understanding of funding arrangements.
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 10 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 their 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 their 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 Leaving Care Worker. In these circumstances the Leaving Care Worker will attempt to negotiate a revised plan that is acceptable to all parties.
Where a Pathway Plan is amended as a result of a review, the Leaving Care Worker 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 Leaving Care Worker will send a copy of the amended Plan to the young person, the Chairperson and the Designated Manager.
10. Education, Training and Employment
10.1 Planning for Education, Training and Careers
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.
10.2 Care Leavers Continuing in Education
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 Leaving Care Worker.
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 Leaving Care Worker 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 Leaving Care Worker 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.
11. Transition to Adult Social Care
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 Preparing for Adulthood Workflow step 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 and ideally not later than 16 whilst late entrants to care are acknowledged. The episode remains open until the transition to adult services is finalised.
12. Where Care Leavers Live or Move to a Different Local Authority Area
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 they would receive if they 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.
13. Staying Put
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:
- The criteria for such placement extensions;
- How extending placements will impact on the allowances provided by the Local Authority and whether other funding, e.g. funding for housing related support, will contribute to meeting placement costs;
- Any financial contributions from the young person from their wages, salary, benefits or educational allowances;
- How the income tax, national insurance and welfare benefits situation of carers may be affected by post-18 payments;
- Insurance issues including liability and household;
- The impact on foster carers' fostering registration limits and status;
- Safeguarding arrangements including Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks on over 18 year olds and issues relating to fostered children in households.
See also Staying Put Procedure.
Young People in Residential Care
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 their 16th birthday, and agreement obtained from the relevant Head of Service (Localities) and Head of Children in Care Provision.
Young People in Foster Care
For a young person living in foster care, the first Looked After Review following their 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 Leaving Care 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:
- Yearly reviews of the carer(s);
- Reassessment and re-registration every 3 years;
- New DBS checks every 3 years on all adult members of the household, regular visitors and children of the carers aged 16 and over;
- Health and safety checks;
- Regular supervision from the social worker;
- Attending required training.
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.
14. Access to Records
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.