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3.10.3 Foster Care 'Staying Put' Scheme Post 18


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Legal Context
  3. Scope
  4. Key Principles
  5. Planning and Procedures
  6. Financial Arrangements
  7. Monitoring and Reviewing
  8. Ending a ‘Staying Put’ Placement

    Appendix A


1. Introduction

Transition to adulthood is often a turbulent time for any young person. For many young adults, transition to adulthood can be extended and delayed until they are emotionally and financially ready. Young people who are looked after may not have this option. It is still the case that too many care leavers are expected to cope with independent living too early and without proper support – often whilst the local authority shares parental responsibility for them.

This policy sets out Hillingdon’s commitment and responsibilities for young people aged 18+, offering them a period of stability during which the young people can be helped to acquire the necessary skills in preparation for living independently. By providing lodgings with support, young people will have the stepping stone to prepare them for living independently.


2. Legal Context

This policy and arrangements meet the requirements as set out in the following legislation:

  • The Children Act 1989 and Children Leaving Care Act 2000. The main aims of both are:
    1. To delay young people’s discharge from care until they are prepared and ready to leave;
    2. To improve the assessment, preparation and planning for leaving care;
    3. To provide better personal support for young people after leaving care;
    4. To provide the financial arrangements for care leavers.
  • The Children Act 2004;
  • Care Matters – Time for Change, 2007. This programme put in place a national framework to support the joining up of services so that every child and young person can achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes;
  • The Children and Young Persons Act 2008 (contains amendments to the 1989 Children Act). This piece of legislation strengthens and makes requirements in response to evidence that young people leaving care had experienced poor outcomes. The key changes are:
    1. Section 8 of the 2008 Act inserts a new section 22D into the Children Act 1989. This is to ensure that any looked after child should not move from accommodation that is regulated under the Care Standards Act 2000 to other arrangements without a statutory review of the child care plan chaired by their Independent Reviewing Officer. (IRO). A move to other arrangements would include moving to accommodation, which is often referred to semi-independent accommodation, which would not be subject to regular inspection by Ofsted;
    2. No child should be made to feel that they should “leave care” before they are ready. The young person and professionals responsible for contributing to the plan must concur that they have developed the skills necessary to manage any transition to more independent living, where as a result, less support will be provided.


3. Scope

This policy applies to all children looked after, who are approaching 18. Planning and consideration for the ‘staying put’ scheme should take place following the young person’s 17th birthday at their Looked After Review.

This policy covers the ‘staying put’ placements that are provided by Hillingdon approved foster carers and those foster placements and residential establishments (these are made under exceptional circumstances) provided by independent fostering agencies


4. Key Principles

  • Moving on from foster care should be a planned event and young people need to be prepared and supported as appropriate, according to assessed need. In all circumstances plans and processes for moving on should be identified and set out in the young person’s Pathway Plan and addressed at the foster carers’ annual review;
  • Hillingdon has a strong commitment to helping young people achieve in education and recognises the importance of placement stability in enabling academic success;
  • There is recognition that there is a change in legal status at 18 and the local authority’s responsibilities change, particularly in relation to the provision of financial support. Young people cannot be legally “fostered” post 18. Therefore placements in which the locally authority continue to support financially need to be termed as either extended fostering or ‘staying put’ placements. While fostering regulations will no longer legally apply, key standards should continue to govern the expectations of the placement when a young person reaches the age of 18.


5. Planning and Procedures

For young people living in foster care, a planning meeting should take place following a young person’s seventeenth birthday. The meeting must include the participation and views of all key parties. The outcome of the meeting will then be presented to the Team Manager and Service Managers of the social work team and relevant fostering team. Minutes of the meeting must be recorded.

The decision and approval for the placement to change to a ‘staying put’ placement will be finalised at the first Looked After Review following the young person’s seventeenth birthday. This early decision will enforce the sense of stability and help to ensure that sufficient time is available to make the necessary arrangements.

It should be noted that young people remaining with foster carers post 18 will become adult members of the household and will require a valid DBS check in households where foster children are living. To ensure the check is completed by the young person’s 18th birthday the process will need to commence in sufficient time.

If there are other young people in the foster home, the foster carers’ supervising social worker must discuss the proposal with the young people’s social workers.

To enable the Children’s Access to Resources Panel to make consistent decisions, the Pathway Plan and Review process must be completed at least 6 months before the young person’s 18th birthday or earlier if appropriate.

Prior to the new ‘staying put’ placement commencing, a house agreement will be put into place. This will have been agreed to by the young person, foster carer, social worker/Personal Adviser and supervising social worker. Such arrangements will cover the ground rules of the household and areas of responsibility so that all parties are aware of what is expected of them during the placement. (Please see Appendix A).


6. Financial Arrangements

We will never pay the full equivalent of a fostering fee in light of the change in circumstances. The agreed payment would be 50% of Hillingdon’s in house fostering rate for the upper age bracket for both in house and IFA carers. Hillingdon’s rates are set annually against those rates recommended by the Fostering Network.

Payments will be made directly to Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) carers and no agency fee will be payable for placements made with the Independent Foster Agencies. Reference to Hillingdon’s Leaving Care Policy should be made for specific financial support that is not covered below.

Young people in non-advanced/secondary education

  • If a young person in foster care reaches 18 and continues in secondary/non advanced education, approval for the payment of the full fostering rate will need to be obtained from the Children’s Access to Resources Panel.

Young people no longer in secondary education

  • If the young person in foster care reaches 18 and is not in education or does not plan to undertake a course in non-advanced/secondary education, then the young person’s Pathway Plan will have to identify an appropriate move on process from foster care. This process should include what role the foster carers may take in supporting the young person to move and live in the community, what financial assistance may be needed to do this and the possible sources for funding;
  • If, however, the carer and the young person wish the living arrangements to continue, then this will become a private living arrangement. This will need to be considered by the supervising social worker and foster carer;

Under these circumstances if the young person is working, then an agreement between the carer and the young person about rent payments will need to be reached. In the case of the young person being in receipt of a low wage, they would be in a position to receive financial support towards their rent, through Housing Benefits;

If the young person is not in employment they will have access to full benefits – e.g. job seekers allowance, income support and housing benefit, which will pay an assessed “fair rent” amount. The young person’s Personal Adviser would assist the young person to access all entitled benefits.

Young people in Further Education

  • If, after secondary education a young person post 18, enrols on a course of further or higher education in a local college and wishes to continue living with the carers then the young person will need to claim housing benefit and income support plus EMA ( or equivalent). A local single room rent level would be paid to the carers as part of the young persons individually assessed education support package. The foster carers will receive 50% of Hillingdon’s in house fostering rate;

It should be noted that the financial support and entitlements around further education are complex and will be dependent on the type of course and college attended. The level of financial support given to a young person by the department to cover their rent will be dependent on the level of grants and bursaries that the young person is able to access. (See Leaving Care Policy).

Young people at University

  • When a young person goes to University the placement will cease. Any vacation arrangement with the carer will primarily become a private matter. In accordance with the Leaving Care Policy, summer vacation accommodation is funded for those care leavers who meet the criteria for support. (See Leaving Care Policy);
  • If a young person arranges to stay with a previous carer during the Easter and Christmas vacation, the young person will have to use their student loan/grant to fund that period;
  • If a young person attends University locally and wishes to remain living with the carers, then the same arrangements would apply as a young person remaining to complete a course of further education. This would be a private arrangement and Social Services would assist with only summer vacation accommodation costs.

Young people who take a gap year

  • In the event that the young person wishes to postpone their college or University placement for a year and remain living with the carers, then this would be viewed as a private arrangement period, where the young person is able to access benefits or agree rent payments with the carer, if employed.

Vulnerability and Individual case responses

  • In the event that an assessment shows that a young person presents as having a level of vulnerability or individual need or circumstance not covered by these arrangements and needs to remain in placement post 18, then these will be identified through the Pathway Planning and foster carers annual review process and considered on an individual basis.


7. Monitoring and Reviewing

A monitoring meeting will take place after the first month of the new arrangements. Participants must include the young person, foster carer and the young person’s social worker/Personal Adviser.

If the ‘staying put’ placement is funded by Hillingdon, the placement will need to be reviewed by the Access to Resources Panel (ARP) following the first monitoring meeting. Thereafter reviews of the placement will take place in accordance with the requirements of the ARP.

In line with requirements, the social worker or personal advisor must review the Pathway Plan six monthly to ensure that the young person’s needs are being met. A written record must be kept of the outcome of the review.


8. Ending a ‘Staying Put’ Placement

‘Staying Put’ placements are not long term arrangements. Procedures should be agreed at the outset regarding how any wish by the foster carer or young person to bring the arrangement to an end will be managed. Under normal circumstances, four weeks notice must be given in writing, unless a planned end has been discussed and agreed in the Pathway Plan.

If the young person decides to leave the placement, they must consult his/her social worker/Personal Adviser before giving notice. They must give the social worker and foster carer at last two weeks notice.

The foster carer or social worker/ Personal Adviser may give immediate notice to terminate the placement if the young person is involved in any of the following:

  • A threat to the wellbeing of others or self or property;
  • Harassment of others involved in the service or neighbours;
  • Misuse of the foster carer’s property;
  • The possession of any illegal substance whilst in the property;
  • Theft from the foster carer or others of the property;
  • A serious criminal conviction during the placement.

This policy provides guidance to support all young people leaving care to maintain a positive relationship with their foster carers. They will be able to provide the stability that is needed to ensure a smooth transition to independent living and adulthood for care leavers.


Appendix A

‘Staying Put’ Agreement

This is a Contract Agreement between a young adult who has attained18 years and their previous foster carer/s who have agreed for the young adult to continue to live with them on a ‘staying put’ basis.

A person cannot be legally fostered under the Fostering Services Regulations 2011 after they reach their 18th birthday. Due to the change in the young person’s status, the arrangement is now a ‘staying put’ placement. The host carer will continue to support and encourage the young adult through their transition to independence, within an agreed period.

The young adult and their host carer/s will discuss and agree general principles under the headings below, to include those outlined in the young adult’s Pathway Plan.

Young Adult ………………………………………….

Host/carer/s …………………………………………..

Address ……………………………………………….

Confidentiality

(To include the use/management of prior knowledge of the young adult gathered when fostered; the handling of post; telephone messages; visitors, etc)

Household Rules

(To include smoking; use of alcohol; over night guests; staying out; household chores i.e. clean up after self; use of landline telephone; laundry; etc)

Budgeting

The young adult and the host carer/s agree to discuss the sensible/responsible/appropriate use of the young adult’s limited finances.
This is to include understanding of bill paying as a priority etc.

Communication

Exchange of contact details of young adult and host carer/s and use

Statement of action to be taken by host carer/s if concerned (i.e. contacting the young adult’s PA)

Statement of action to be taken by young adult

Statement regarding what information to be shared by host carer/s with PA

Moving on from ‘Staying Put’ arrangement:

Young adult and host carer/s to view alternative accommodation as appropriate

Objective of this ‘Staying Put’ arrangement between …………........... and ……………...........:

By adhering to the above agreement and by working with their host carer/s, the young adult will develop skills that will enable them to care for themselves, enable them to live responsibly independently, within an agreed period.

Young adult:

Signature ------------------------------------------ Date---------------------------------

 

Host carer/s:

Signature ----------------------------------------  Date----------------------------------

Signature ----------------------------------------- Date----------------------------------

 

PA signature ------------------------------------- Date --------------------------------

PA Name --------------------------------------------------

End