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5.9.1 Leaving Care

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

These Procedures apply to young people who are or have been Looked After and are entitled to support after their 16th birthday. They should be read in conjunction with Leaving Care Finance Policy which outlines the financial support that is provided for those leaving care.

There are three categories of those leaving the Looked After service all of whom are entitled to support after their 16th birthday. The categories are Eligible Young People, Relevant Young People, and Former Relevant Young People.

These Procedures also refer to Qualifying Young People who may receive support, advice and assistance after their 16th birthday.

Homeless young people aged16 and 17 years old can also be provided with advice and support until they are unable to access mainstream services. For Guidance in relation to these procedures, see Leaving Care Guidance.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations – Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers (January 2015)

RELEVANT CHAPTERS

Leaving Care Finance Policy

Staying Put Procedure

AMENDMENT

The chapter was reviewed in May 2016.


Contents

  1. Definitions
  2. Appointment of Personal Advisers
  3. Role of Personal Adviser
  4. Preparation and Assessment
  5. Pathway Plan
  6. Review of Pathway Plan
  7. Procedures in Relation to Qualifying Young People
  8. Staying Put
  9. Complaints


1. Definitions

The Care Planning, Placement and Case review Regulations (201)0 place greater emphasis on the decision making for looked After children who leave care at 16 or 17 years old. Eligible Young People are those 16 and 17 year old who have a status of Section 20 and who qualify for leaving care status. The regulations provide a framework for those young people to be “eligible.” This means that a decision can be made that they remain as a looked after child, despite no longer living in a regulated setting such as a foster placement.

There are four categories of young people who are eligible to assistance:

1. 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 are still Looked After. (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.

Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers are eligible young people and these procedures apply to them.

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 (England) Regulations 2010.

2. 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 Looked After. However, if after leaving the Looked After service, 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”. 

A young person is also “Relevant” if, having been looked after for three months or more, he or she is then detained after their 16th birthday either in hospital, a remand centre, a young offenders’ institution or a 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 covered by Regulations 4 to 9 of the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010.

3. Former Relevant Young People

They are aged 18 to 21 (or up to 25 if in full-time further or higher education), and have left the Looked After service 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.

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:

  • Appoint a Personal Adviser;
  • 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 s/he is, or will be, receiving education or training; or making a grant to enable the young person to meet expenses connected with his 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 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.

4. Qualifying Young People

They are over the age of 16 and under the age of 21, (or up to 25 if in full-time further or higher education), and have been Looked After or, if Disabled, 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.

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;
  • The destination for the young person is safe and will support their welfare.

Personal Adviser

A Personal Adviser is responsible for working with young people who have left the care of the Local Authority. The Personal Adviser will hold a pivotal role in the planning and review of services as set out in the Pathway Plan.

Pathway Plan

The Pathway Plan sets out the route to the future for young people leaving the Looked After service and will state how their needs will be met on their path to independence. The plan will continue to be implemented and reviewed after they leave the Looked After Service at least until they are 21; and up to 25 if in education.


2. Appointment of Personal Advisers

The Young Persons Team works with young people aged 14 years and over. Social workers working within the team will be the main keyworker for the young people and will complete the Pathway Plan Assessment.

A Personal Adviser will be appointed from the Young Persons Team when the young person reaches 17 ¾ years old.

If the young person is proposing to move to another authority when s/he leaves the looked after service, and the placement is to be directly supervised by the Young Persons Team, the Young Persons Team manager will negotiate as necessary the provision of support from the local authority in whose area the young person is choosing to reside. Details of the service to be provided and associated costs will be recorded by the manager and agreed in consultation with the relevant manager.

It is the responsibility of the young person’s social worker to inform the authority in which the young person chooses to reside that s/he is moving to the area. 

If the young person is placed outside the authority and that authority supervises the placement on behalf of the Department, the Young Persons Team will negotiate with that authority for the provision of a Personal Adviser and Pathway Plan, and will then continue to monitor the service provided through attendance at the young person’s Looked After Reviews and Pathway Plan Reviews for as long as the young person remains entitled to provision.


3. Role of Personal Adviser

Guidance on the Personal Adviser’s role in participating in the assessment of the young person, and in preparing and reviewing the Pathway Plan is set out in Leaving Care Guidance.

The functions of the Personal Adviser are:

  1. To provide advice;
  2. To participate in the young person’s assessment and preparation of the Pathway Plan;
  3. To participate in reviews of the Pathway Plan;
  4. To liaise with others as necessary in the implementation of the Pathway Plan;
  5. To coordinate the provision of services under the Pathway Plan and take steps to ensure the young person makes use of such services;
  6. To keep informed about the young person’s progress and well-being;
  7. To keep written records of contact with the young person.

The precise level and nature of the Personal Adviser’s contact with the young person will be specified in the young person’s Pathway Plan.

The Personal Adviser must 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.

Where a Personal Adviser loses touch with a young person, immediate steps must be taken to re-establish contact.

The Personal Adviser will act as the principal source of contact in any matter relating to the Pathway Plan. 

Once a Pathway Plan has been agreed, the Personal Adviser will monitor its progress through direct contact with the young person and with the agencies and individuals identified in the Plan as providing a service or being significant.


4. Preparation and Assessment

All Eligible, Relevant or Former Relevant Young People must receive a multi-agency 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 completing the Needs Assessment.

This assessment should be completed no more than 3 months after the young person’s 16th birthday or after the young person becomes an Eligible or Relevant Young Person 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 Care Plan together with information from the most recent Single Assessment will form the basis of the Needs Assessment.

The young person’s social worker will be responsible for completing the Needs Assessment, recording the assessment information and conclusions as well as the outcome of any meetings held. The young person must be invited to any meetings held in connection with the assessment.

The Needs Assessment should take account of the views of the following:

  1. The young person;
  2. The parents;
  3. The current carer;
  4. The school/college and the education service;
  5. Any Independent Visitor;
  6. Any person providing health care or treatment for the young person;
  7. The Personal Adviser;
  8. Any other relevant person including, in the case of a young person with special needs, a representative from Adult Services.

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 young person should be provided with a copy of their needs assessment in a format that is accessible to them within 2 weeks. The social worker is responsible for ensuring that the outcome of the assessment is explained to the young person.

The Needs Assessment will inform the development of a Pathway Plan which complements and forms part of the young person’s Care Plan.

Where the young person continues to be Looked After, the Placement Plan should describe what arrangements have been made within the placement to support the Pathway Plan.


5. Pathway Plan

The young person’s Social Worker will work on the Pathway Plan with the young person (under 18 years old) and others involved with the young person. The Pathway Plan must be prepared as soon as possible after the Needs Assessment has been completed. (16.4 months).

Each young person will be central to drawing up their own Plan setting the goals and identifying with the Social Worker how the Local Authority will help meet them, including any services being provided in respect of young person’s disability or needs arising from being in custody or as a result of entering the country as an unaccompanied asylum seeker. Young people with particular language or communication needs should be provided throughout the process with appropriate interpretation, translation or advocacy support.

The Pathway Plan will be finalised at a planning meeting set up and recorded by the social worker and attended also by the young person and other involved parties. The meeting will agree the lead responsibilities for implementing the Plan. In the case of an Eligible/Relevant Young Person, the social worker will retain lead responsibility for progressing the plan. In the case of a Former Relevant Young Person,(over 18) the Personal Adviser will have lead responsibility.

The meeting will also fix a date for the first review of the Pathway Plan.

The Pathway Plan should be recorded and cross-referenced as appropriate to other plans in operation including the Care Plan, Personal Education Plan, Health Care Plan and transition. There is no need to duplicate the complementary plans but copies of relevant parts should be kept with the Pathway Plan. 

The Pathway Plan should be recorded and cross-referenced as appropriate to other plans in operation including the Care Plan, Personal Education Plan, Health Care Plan and Transition Plan. There is no need to duplicate the complementary plans but copies of relevant parts should be kept with the Pathway Plan. 

The Pathway Plan should also include:

  • The plan for the young person’s continuing education or training when he/she ceases 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;
  • How the Responsible Local Authority will assist the young person in obtaining employment or other purposeful activity or occupation, taking into account his/her aspirations, skills and educational potential;
  • The financial support to be provided to enable the young person to meet accommodation and maintenance costs; taking into account his/her 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 his or her identity, with particular regard to their religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background.

A Financial Summary should be attached to the plan, at the latest from the point where the young person ceases to be Looked After. 

Please refer to Leaving Care Guidance for detailed guidance as to the contents of the Financial Summary and the expectations of the local authority regarding the various levels of financial support which should be given to young people under these procedures.

The Personal Adviser must contact all relevant individuals or agencies so that they are aware of their role within the plan and to ensure it will be implemented effectively.

These may include:

  1. Family members or friends;
  2. Foster carers or residential staff;
  3. The education service, for example the named significant adult for education;
  4. The school;
  5. Connexions;
  6. The Youth Offending Service;
  7. Housing providers;
  8. Health organisations;
  9. Voluntary organisations including activity or interest groups with whom the young person is involved.

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.

The Team Manager should approve and sign the Pathway Plan. 

All requests for finance for young people must be made in writing, using the appropriate form, to the Children's Team Manager. Arrangements for payment to the young person will not be set up unless the correct internal procedures are followed.

On completion and approval of the Pathway Plan as above, all parties involved including the young person should sign it.

The Personal Adviser will provide the young person with a copy of the most up to date Pathway Plan and ensure that the contents are explained. A copy of the Pathway Plan is to be kept in the young person’s record.

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.


6. Reviews of Pathway Plans

A review of the Pathway Plan should take place at six monthly intervals for as long as it stays in force.

A manager from the Leaving Care Service will chair the Pathway Plan reviews for young people age 18 and over. The IRO will review the young person’s Pathway Plan during their statutory case review if they are looked after.

Should the need arise, either because the plan needs amending or at the young person’s request, a review of the Pathway Plan can take place without waiting for a scheduled review.

The review will check whether the goals remain appropriate and are being met, and whether levels of support are adequate and being delivered.

Review participants should include the young person, Personal Adviser, the social worker (if different) 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:

  1. Arrange a review 28 days (or as soon as practicable thereafter) from the time the accommodation is provided; and
  2. Determine at what intervals (not exceeding six months) subsequent reviews will be carried out;
  3. 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 his or her 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 (England) Regulations 2010 and Schedule 6 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010):

  1. In respect of the accommodation:
    1. The facilities and services provided;
    2. The state of repair;
    3. The safety;
    4. The location;
    5. The support;
    6. The tenancy status; and
    7. The financial commitments involved for the relevant young person and their affordability.
  2. In respect of the Relevant young person:
    1. His or her views about the accommodation;
    2. His or her understanding of their rights and responsibilities in relation to the accommodation; and
    3. His or her understanding of funding arrangements.

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 the first visit should 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 Provider to support the young person emotionally, practically and financially whilst 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.

The Personal Adviser/Social worker from the Young Persons Team are responsible for the production of the Pathway Plan assessment and the update of the Pathway Plan following the Review.

The Social worker will be responsible for liaising with the IRO or Team Manager to convene the reviews as necessary and will also discuss with the Chairperson how the review should be undertaken.

The 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 Chairperson will retain a monitoring role, at six monthly intervals, to check the progress of the Pathway Plan.

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 or social worker will amend the Plan. Any necessary approval to the amended financial arrangements will be sought from the Children's Team Manager.

Once the changes are approved by the Team Manager, the Personal Adviser will send a copy of the amended Plan to the young person, the Chairperson.


7. Procedures in Relation to Qualifying Young People

The young person’s social worker will provide support, advice and assistance to Qualifying Young People and make efforts to engage and to keep in touch with them.

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, practical help should be offered in addition to support. 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 will be possible to the age of 25. 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 Children's Team Manager.

The request should specify the type of financial support sought the reason for the request and the total cost involved.


8. 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 arrangements;
  • How Staying Put arrangements 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 DBS checks on over 18 year olds and issues relating to fostered children in households.

Young People in Residential Care

Young people may also ‘stay put’ in children’s homes or other residential settings, although they are unlikely to be able to remain beyond the age of 18, unless there is a designated move-on accommodation linked to the residential care setting.

Young People in Foster Care

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 arrangement is an option. This will entail assessing the implications for both the young person and the foster carer.

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 or the young person 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 years. 

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.


9. Complaints

All those eligible for support under these procedures and qualifying young people over the age of 16 have access to the Children and Young People's Complaints Procedure.

End