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3.10.1 Leaving Care


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Objectives of the Leaving Care Services
  3. The Legal Framework
  4. Financial Arrangements under the Legislation
  5. The Delivery of Leaving Care Services
  6. Referral and Allocation
  7. Needs Assessment
  8. Pathway Planning
  9. Review of Pathway Plans
  10. Transition Process
  11. Accommodation
  12. Financial Arrangements
  13. Representations, Complaints and Compliments

    Appendix 1: Care Leavers Nomination Policy to Housing (Band "B")

    Appendix 2: Higher Education Bursary Regulations - Frequently Asked Questions


1. Introduction

This chapter outlines how services are delivered to young people leaving care in the London Borough of Hillingdon, to ensure that the standards set under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 are met in full:

“to ensure that young people leaving care, as they enter adulthood, are not isolated and participate socially and economically as citizens”

The chapter is based primarily on the following documents, which provide the essential framework for practice. All of these documents must be read in conjunction with one another as a basis for understanding the responsibilities for good practice when working with young people leaving care.

  1. The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000;
  2. The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 Regulations and Guidance;
  3. The Children (Leaving Care) Act Explanatory Notes;
  4. The Children Act 1989;
  5. The Children Act 2004;
  6. The White Paper – ‘Care Matters’ – Time for Change 2007;
  7. Children and Young Persons Act 2008.

See also Transition to Adulthood - Interim Guidance for the Implementation of the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010.


2. Objectives of the Leaving Care Services

Hillingdon will:

  1. Work in partnership with the young person, carers and all involved agencies to produce and regularly review a Pathway Plan. This will be done through a planned, facilitating process, to support, motivate and empower each young person to achieve their potential for competent independent living;
  2. Support and encourage each young person‘s potential for education, training and employment, using every opportunity to maximise and celebrate achievements and outcomes;
  3. Promote the importance of good health and encourage each young person to engage with any necessary health service, and acquire the knowledge and skills to access services in the future. Young people will be supported in exploring for him or herself the elements of a healthy lifestyle, including sexual and emotional health;
  4. Provide or facilitate the young person in acquiring accommodation appropriate to the age and needs of the young person, with a focus on developing independence skills, but with sufficient support to enable the young person to manage other aspects of their lives;
  5. Provide each young person with a worker who will undertake the role of a Personal Adviser who will support and provide the guidance that is needed for the young person to develop a resilient sense of self-worth, aspiration, confidence and identity;
  6. Encourage each young person to take up opportunities for developing a range of interests, skills, activities and supportive social networks;
  7. Ensure each young person will be supported to develop positive family relationships with members of their birth family and/or substitute family, wherever possible;
  8. Involve, consult and support each young person in decision-making, with an emphasis on the young person being equipped to take the lead in doing so. To provide opportunities to encourage young people to contribute to and participate in the community;
  9. Support each young person to become financially independent, able to budget, save and manage money. The expectation is that the young person will have been encouraged to save money from an early age whilst in care;
  10. Encourage and support any young person engaged in self harming behaviour, including offending behaviour, substance misuse, unsafe sex to seek and use relevant help.


3. The Legal Framework

3.1 Children (Leaving Care Act) 2000

The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 provides the legal framework for the policy and arrangements in respect of young people leaving the care of the local authority, and after care services. The local authority has a duty to prepare Looked After young people for the time when they leave care. Children’s Social Care Division has a range of duties and powers to provide after care advice and assistance to these young people, and to those who have been Accommodated by other specified agencies.

These duties mean offering contact and support to care leavers until the age of 21 years or 24 if the young people are undertaking an agreed course of education or training which began before the age of 21. These duties strengthen and extend the provisions for care leavers in the Children Act 1989. This guidance and regulations supersede Volume 3, Chapter 9 and Volume 4, Chapter 7 of the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations.

3.2 Who is affected by the legislation?

The Act defines four categories of young people entitled to leaving care services.

Eligible A young person is deemed eligible if he/she has been looked after for a minimum of 13 weeks from the age of 14 years and is still looked after at the age of 16/17. Young people who meet the 13 week eligibility criteria of having been looked after for 13 weeks from the age of 14, but on their 16th birthday are detained in either a remand centre, youth offending institution, secure accommodation whilst subject to a Secure Accommodation Order, or a hospital, are also eligible.
Relevant An “eligible” young person becomes a “relevant” young person if they leave care aged 16 or 17.
Former Relevant At the age of 18 if a young person was previously “eligible” and “relevant”, they become known as “former relevant”.
Qualifying A care leaver who leaves care between the ages of 16 and 18 who has not been in care for the 13 week period which is required to become an “eligible” young person becomes a “qualifying young person”. Young people who have been privately fostered beyond the age of 16 also become “qualifying” young people.

3.3 Who is not affected by this legislation?

The Act is intended to help those children and young people who depend on the local authority in place of family. The provisions of the legislation are modelled on what good parents would normally expect to provide for their children. These provisions therefore do not apply to:

  1. Children Looked After by way of respite care and those who remain the responsibility of their parents or other carers;
  2. When a young person has returned home successfully, he or she will cease to be a relevant child. This means that he/she must have been successfully settled for at least six months. The responsible authority will use the review of the Pathway Plan to determine whether the rehabilitation is successful. If the return home proves to be unsuccessful after the six month period, the young person will once again become a relevant young person.


4. Financial Arrangements under the Legislation

The new financial arrangements are intended to simplify support for care leavers. Under the new arrangements, local authorities have the primary income maintenance role for both eligible and Relevant Young People.

Exceptions will include Relevant Young People once they have returned home for six months or more, and children receiving short respite care placements.

  • Eligible Young People and Relevant Young People are not entitled to Income Support, Job Seeker’s Allowance or Housing Benefit;
  • Eligible Young People and Relevant Young People who are lone parents or disabled will however be eligible for Income Support and other benefits except Housing Benefit;
  • 16 and 17 year old care leavers who do not meet the qualifying periods for either Eligible Young People or Relevant Young People status will remain entitled to benefits. In addition the local authority may provide them with financial assistance (see Children Leaving Care Act 2000 section 6, substituting Children Act 1989 section 24);
  • The local authority does not have a primary financial responsibility for Former Relevant Young People (aged 18 and above). However, the local authority now has a duty to provide assistance in kind or in cash in respect of the assessed additional needs of a Former Relevant Young Person;
  • In cases of need for emergency assistance for care leavers from another responsible authority, Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 should be considered until proper plans for financial support are made with the relevant responsible authority.


5. The Delivery of Leaving Care Services

In Hillingdon the delivery of services to those who are Eligible, Relevant or Former Relevant, will be the responsibility of the Young People's Teams. It is recognised and good practice that the worker who knows the young person best throughout their time in care is an important person to be involved in the transition to this team. Preparation for leaving care will be regarded as an important part of care placement and training and support to foster carers and residential workers for this process will be made available.

Young people with disabilities who are eligible for services from Adult and Community Care Services will receive their services as a Former Relevant” Young Person from the Appropriate Adult Team. These arrangements will have been detailed in the young person’s Pathway Plan.

See also Hillingdon‘s Protocol for the Transition of Children with Disabilities and Mental Health to Adult and Community Care Services - to follow.

Children and young people who are deemed to be “qualifying” will receive advice and guidance, and in exceptional circumstances may receive other support

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 Foster Care 'Staying Put' Scheme Post 18 Procedure.


6. Referral and Allocation

When a social worker in the Children in Need Team (CIN), Referral and Assessment Team (RAT), or Looked After Children Team (LAC) identifies that a looked after young person is approaching the age of 15 and a half years and will become an “eligible” young person at 16, they must make a referral to the Young People's Team using the Needs Led Assessment and Pathway Planning.

The Young People's Team will then appoint a Personal Adviser or other worker to undertake the Needs Assessment and construct the Pathway Plan.

NB The role of the Personal Adviser can be undertaken by workers other than those employed as Personal Advisers.

If the young person‘s 16th birthday occurs in the period between December and June prior to their GCSE exams, case responsibility will remain with the previous team until after the completion of the GCSE’s.

In circumstances where a young person is in year 10, a transfer to the Leaving Care Service may take place.

If so, the Young People's Team will:

  • Attend the 15.5 year and any subsequent Looked After Review;
  • Work jointly with the current allocated social to undertake the Needs Assessment and, with the agreement of the relevant team manager/social worker, carry out any other relevant actions agreed with the young person and the LAC, CIN or RAT Team in keeping with the particular responsibilities of the Young People's Team.


7. Needs Assessment

The Needs Assessment and Pathway Plan must be completed within 3 months of the 16th birthday. The assessment will be undertaken by a range of persons who can carry out the functions of a Personal Adviser from the Young People's Team. 

The Needs Assessment will inform the young person’s Pathway Plan and will be completed and presented, along with the Pathway Plan, at the first Looked After Review following the young person's 16th birthday. An Independent Reviewing Officer will chair this review.

The only exception to this will be in the case of Eligible Young People allocated within the Children with Disabilities Team.

When carrying out a Needs Assessment, the allocated worker will follow the principles of the Assessment Framework and take into account all other existing plans concerning that young person.

These plans will include: Care Plans, Transitional Plans (if applicable), Health Action Plans, Personal Education Plans, and any other plans referred to in the current Action and Progress Record of the young person concerned.

The assessment and subsequent evaluation must always take into account the need to match the plan with a young person’s skills and capacity at all stages in his/her progression to independent living. The views and wishes of the young person and the opinions and assessments of those who work with the young person will all be taken into account when determining a move of a young person under 18 to more independent living.

The Leaving Care Needs Assessment - Framework identifies six categories of children who may require special care and attention during the assessment. They include children and young people:

  • In transition, including moving schools, leaving school or leaving care, or moving into young adulthood and into the remit of adult services;
  • With specific communication needs, either because English is not a first language or they do not communicate through speech;
  • With a long history of contact with Children’s Social Services;
  • Involved in the use of drugs;
  • About whom there are concerns that they are becoming involved in prostitution;
  • Who are separated from their country of origin (unaccompanied asylum seeking children and young people).

It is likely that Hillingdon’s care leavers will be represented in several of these categories.


8. Pathway Planning

The Pathway Plan is the care planning framework for young people aged 16 and over and sets out the young person’s aspirations for their future and to set interim goals in relation to all the areas to be covered.

The principles to consider when drawing up a Pathway Plan are that:

  • Young people will be involved in the drawing up of their plans;
  • A young person is entitled to the support of an advocate throughout the pathway planning process, if he/she wishes. In Hillingdon this service is provided by NCH, the Children’s Rights Service;
  • The Pathway Plan will be completed and presented at the first Looked After Review after the young person’s 16th birthday, along with the completed Needs Assessment;
  • The Pathway Plan will be reviewed every 6 months and include reports from all professionals/ agencies involved in providing services to the young person, although they may not all attend the review, depending on the wishes of the young person;
  • Any resource provision linked with the plan must be agreed prior to or immediately after the review by either the Team Managers of the Young People's Team, or, if beyond that manager’s delegated authority, the Service Manager or Resource Panel, as agreed;
  • The Pathway Plan for a young person should be developed with him or her, any agreed family member, the carers and any other appropriate parties;
  • The plan will commence from the young person’s 16th birthday.

Those young people who may be eligible for Community Care Adult Services will be referred by the social worker/Personal Adviser to the Transition Panel at the age of 16 in line with Hillingdon’s Protocol for the Transition of Children with Disabilities and Mental Health needs from Education and Children’s Services to Adult and Community Care Services.


9. Review of Pathway Plans

Whilst an “eligible” young person remains a Looked After Child, their Pathway Plan will replace their Care Plan. The review of the plan will be undertaken by Hillingdon’s Independent Reviewing Officers as part of their responsibilities for reviewing the arrangements for each Looked After child.

Reviews will take place at a minimum of 6 monthly intervals and more frequently if requested by the young person or the allocated worker. All other Looked After Review documentation must also be completed.

Once a young person is no longer Looked After they become either a “relevant” young person or a “former relevant” young person. In practice the majority of Pathway Plans will then be reviewed by the relevant manager in the Young People's Team, the Children with Disabilities or the relevant team in the Community Adult Teams.

Where a young person has been assessed to have additional/complex needs which will require additional support, such as mental health, a supervising manager is required to attend the first review in the 17th year to ensure robust transitional planning. In exceptional circumstances at the final statutory Looked After Review, it may be agreed by the relevant Team Manager or the Assistant Team Manager and Independent Reviewing Officer, that there is a need for continuing Independent Reviewing Officer involvement.

All other reviews of Pathway Plans for Former Relevant Young People will be co-ordinated by the Personal Adviser, and all financial plans will be authorised by the appropriate manager. The management team for Young People is responsible for monitoring the performance and quality of the Personal Adviser’s practice.


10. Transition Process

The Protocol for transferring to Adult and Community Care services will apply to all those young people with disabilities and or those with mental health needs.

At the point of transfer to the Young People's Team, the young person will be provided with a copy of the schedule of financial assistance and a simple guide to the services that will be available to them.

In addition the social worker/Personal Adviser must:

  • Provide the young person with written information on how to make a compliment or complaint;
  • Coordinate the Housing Assessment and Application;
  • Build a working relationship with the young person;
  • Identify the young person’s goals and ambitions to inform the Pathway Plan;
  • Liaise with Connexions, Education, Employers and Training providers;
  • Assist in the completion of the Pathway Plan “Your Leaving Care Services”;
  • Ensure a bank account for the young person is set up (where possible);
  • Provide and explain financial entitlements and agree a financial plan with the young person;
  • Provide a budgeting pack;
  • Provide health information as appropriate.

    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.


11. Accommodation

Please refer to Appendix 2: Care Leavers Nomination Policy to Housing (Band ’B’).


12. Financial Arrangements

12.1 Principles for Payments to Care Leavers 16-18

Financial support to young people is related to their individual circumstances which will take account of their legal status and will be described in detail in their Pathway Plans.

Payment systems should be based on systems which are transparent and which reflect Departmental priorities. Departmental payment systems should take full advantage of any grants and payments which are available.

12.2 Bank Accounts and National Insurance

When young people at the age of 15 and a half are referred to the Young People's Team, the young people should be encouraged and assisted to open a bank account (where possible).

Young people should also be assisted to obtain a National Insurance Number (where possible) – see Registration for National Insurance Procedure.

The Personal Adviser/social worker will ensure that these tasks are identified in the first Pathway Plan.

To open a bank or building society account, identification details for each young person will be required. These may include a birth certificate, passport, NHS card, immigration documents etc.


13. Representations, Complaints and Compliments

Education and Children’s Services, in partnership with the Children’s Rights Service, will ensure that all young people leaving care will be advised of the procedure for considering any representations (Including any complaints).


Appendix 1: Care Leavers Nomination Policy to Housing (Band "B")

Introduction

The purpose of the Care Leavers Nomination Policy is to secure suitable accommodation for young people who are leaving care.

Overview and Background: Historically the housing allocation policy gave heightened priority to all care leavers cared for by the London Borough of Hillingdon - nominating them to Band B and managing access to housing through a multi departmental Care Leavers’ Nominations Panel which met monthly.

However this changed after the Hillingdon judgement (2003). The Hillingdon judgement ruled that, apart from exceptional cases, local authorities must accommodate all unaccompanied asylum-seeking children under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989. This means that UASC are now classed as Looked After children, and the majority will become care leavers entitled to a range of support services such as access to a Personal Adviser and employment and educational opportunities up to the age of 24 under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000.

The Hillingdon judgement meant that a greatly expanded group of care leavers applying for housing were given high priority. This resulted in the departments having to rethink how best to manage and meet need for this client group within limited resources.

This policy outlines the arrangements that are in place in order to ensure that the borough’s most vulnerable care leavers (aged 16+) need for secure, supported and affordable accommodation when they leave care is protected.

The policy outlines the new procedure and criteria that have been drawn up for those Care Leavers who need to remain Priority B.

General Guidelines

The Council has a responsibility under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 to assist care leavers to access suitable, safe accommodation when they leave care. In some cases housing in Council housing or by nomination to Housing Association will be considered.

Nominations must be approved by the multi-disciplinary Care Leavers’ Nominations Panel, which meets monthly.

The normal eligibility criteria apply to these nominees. For example, the residence qualification and the need to review non-Council housing option may be available to the nominee. The nominee must be able to accept the responsibility of managing a tenancy and be aged 16 or over. Children’s Services support during the initial stages of the tenancy is usually a pre-condition for acceptance by the Housing Services.

In the case of unaccompanied asylum seeking young people they must also fulfil the immigration status requirements to be eligible to access permanent housing. Currently these categories are – Refugee status, Exceptional Leave to Remain (ELR), Discretionary Leave to Remain (DLR), Indefinite Leave to Remain/ Enter (ILR/E), and Humanitarian Protection.

Procedure

  1. The Social Worker will consult with their Team Manager to establish if he/she wishes to support an application to Locate;
  2. If this is the case a Care Leaver’s Nomination Form will be completed and submitted to the Housing Needs Assessment Team along with the housing application form and in the case of asylum seeking young people copies of their most recent Home Office paper;
  3. All care leavers’ nominations will be considered at a monthly meeting of the Care Leavers’ Nominations Panel;
  4. The Care Leavers’ Nominations Panel will consider if the application meets the Band ‘B’ Policy. The policy will apply to those care leavers who fall into the groups listed below. The Chair of the Care Leavers’ Nominations Panel will confirm the decision of the Panel in writing;
  5. Those nominations not identified as Band B will be banded appropriately;
  6. Any change in the housing situation of the applicant should be notified to the Care Leavers’ Nominations Panel. The nomination will be reviewed and confirmed only if the application remains consistent with the Care Leaver’s Nomination Policy.

Criteria for Nomination to Band 'B':

  • Young people subject to Care Orders (where the local authority shares Parental Responsibility);
  • Young people with moderate learning difficulties or disability or those who were subject to a statement of educational needs or a psychological assessment;
  • Young people with significant mental health issues – (at Tier 3 or 4) who have had admission or have had involvement with CAMHS or CMHT for a period of three months or longer and are continuing to receive treatment from either CAMHS CMHT or another relevant agency;
  • Young people with complex needs placed in high cost placements where they no longer require that degree of support and whose application has been approved by the Access to Resources Panel;
  • Those young people with significant offending behaviour, which limits access to other types of suitable accommodation;
  • Young people leaving care who are also parents and also meet one other criterion listed (e.g. they or their baby are especially vulnerable).


Appendix 2: Higher Education Bursary Regulations - Frequently Asked Questions

The 16-19 Bursary Fund helps 16-19 year olds continue in 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. See Department for Education website for more details.

Where can I see the Regulations?

The Regulations can be found on the Legislation Government website.

How are the Bursaries being funded?

Since April 2008, we have provided local authorities with the money to pay HE bursaries to care leavers through the Care Matters Grant which forms part of the Area Based Grant. The new regulations mean that local authorities must pay this bursary to young people who are eligible.

What about the timing of payments?

The regulations allow for payment dates to be fairly flexible - timings can be agreed between the young person and the local authority. If the student and local authority agree that the bursary should be paid in a lump sum, it must be paid by the end of the first term. Where they agree that the bursary is paid in installments, the first instalment must be paid during the first term and the final instalment must be paid before the end of the course. Beyond that, the regulations are not prescriptive about payment timings.

Who is eligible?

Any care leaver (or 'former relevant child' to use the technical term) who started a course of higher education on or after September 2008 is eligible. We chose a date a year before the regulations came in to force as local authorities have had funding in their Area Based Grant since that financial year. Any care leaver who starts a course by their 25th birthday will be entitled to the bursary. The regulations set out when payments may be withdrawn or recovered, but we envisage recovery happening very rarely.

Are UASCs eligible?

If the young person is a former relevant child he or she is eligible for the bursary provided he or she is not Appeals Rights Exhausted. If this is the case the local authority should not treat a UASC any differently to any other former relevant child.

Can the bursary be linked to attendance rates at university?

No it can't. If the young person is a former relevant child and is following a course of higher education then s/he is eligible for the bursary. However, Regulation 4(5) says that "The local authority may withhold payment of any unpaid balance of the higher education bursary during any period when the former relevant child is not pursuing higher education in accordance with the pathway plan." 

Can the local authority use the bursary to pay course fees or towards accommodation?

No. Local authorities cannot use the bursary to meet the costs of providing assistance that they have a duty to provide under section 23C of the Children Act 1989 in relation to education and training. The higher education bursary regulations require that eligible former relevant children are paid the bursary in cash. It will be for the young person themselves to decide how to spend the money.

What do we mean by higher education?

We are using the same definition of higher education as that described under section 22(1) of the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998 and regulations made under that Act for the purpose of student support. The regulations that set out the courses covered can be found on the Office of Public Sector Information website.

Are care leavers involved in decisions relating to the bursary?

The regulations make it clear that the local authority must - as far as is reasonably possible - consult the young person and give due consideration to their wishes before making a decision about payment of the bursary.

What about the money that local authorities already pay to care leavers in higher education?

The £2,000 bursary is a minimum amount which is over and above any money and support that young people are entitled to under Section 23C(4) of the 1989 Children Act, or which local authorities already provide for care leavers who pursue a course of higher education. It must not be in place of existing support.

Will Department for Education be issuing further guidance?

Guidance on this duty will be included in the revised Children Act 1989 which is subject to consultation in autumn 2009.

Who do I contact if I have any more questions?

Please contact sarah.lewis@dcsf.gov.uk, or michael.allured@dcsf.gov.uk from the education and wellbeing team at the Department for Education.

End