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5.7.1 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.

RELATED GUIDANCE

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

Extending personal adviser support to all care leavers to age 25: statutory guidance for local authorities (PDF)

Care Leavers Charter

Department for Education web page on Children Leaving Care, which has links to several related pieces of guidance/information.

Children and Social Work Act (2017) implementation 1 April 2018

Applying Corporate Parenting Principles to Looked-after Children and Care Leavers  - Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities (February 2018)

Local Offer Guidance:  Guidance for Local Authorities

Care Leavers Charter

Shared Lives Sheffield City Council

Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act LASPO (2012)

RELATED CHAPTER

Staying Put Procedure

AMENDMENT

These procedures were updated in May 2018, in line with the Children and Social Work Act 2017.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Definitions
  3. Expectations and Corporate Parenting
  4. Leaving Care Assessment of Need
  5. Pathway Planning
  6. Reviews of Pathway Plans
  7. Personal Advisers
  8. Education, Training and Employment
  9. Young People Resuming Education or Training After 21
  10. Qualifying Young People
  11. Where Care Leavers Live or Move to a Different Local Authority Area
  12. Staying Put
  13. Access to Records

    Appendix 1: Needs Assessment and Content of Pathway Plans for Relevant and Former Relevant Children


1. Introduction

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 introduces 3 new provisions:

  1. A new duty on local authorities, which requires them to offer Personal Adviser 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. This includes care leavers who return to the local authority at any point after the age of 21 up to age 25 and request such support. (Under previous legislation, local authorities were required to only provide care leavers with support from a Personal Adviser until they reached age 21, with that support continuing up to age 25 if a care leaver was engaged in education or training. However, this support was not available to care leavers aged over 21 who were not in education, training or employment);
  2. A new 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
  3. A new 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 new, 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 new duty that extends Personal Adviser 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 new duty means that all care leavers will require statutory support until the age of 25.

The new 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 new 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.


2. Definitions

Normally the definitions relating to Keywords are found by accessing the Keywords Appendix, but a number of the terms used in this procedure are specific to it; therefore they have also been summarised below:

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 one 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 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.

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 covered by Regulations 42, 43 and 44 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) 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. 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, he or she will no longer be a "Relevant Young Person". This young person will have status as a ‘Qualifying‘ see definition below.

A young person is also "Relevant" if, having been in care for three months or more, he or she is then detained after their 16th birthday either in a hospital, remand centre, young offenders' institution or secure training centre. There is a duty to support Relevant Young People up to the age of 18, wherever they are living. This is in accordance with Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (2012)

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.

Former Relevant Young People

They are aged 18 or above and have left care having been previously either "Eligible", "Relevant" or both. There is a duty to consider the need to support these young people wherever they are living.

If the Former Relevant child pursues higher education in accordance with their Care Plan, there is a duty to pay a higher education bursary.

To the extent that the Former Relevant child’s welfare requires it, ‘other assistance’ must be provided which may be in kind or, in exceptional circumstances, in cash.

These duties continue until the former relevant child reaches 21 or, where the child’s pathway plan sets out a programme of education or training which extends beyond their 21st birthday, they continue for so long as the child pursues that programme.

Former relevant children pursuing further education or training

Specific duties are placed upon the local authority in respect of Former Relevant children who inform the local authority that they are pursuing, or intend to pursue, a programme of education or training.  The local authority must:

  • Carry out an assessment of the needs of the Former Relevant child with a view to determining what assistance (if any) it would be appropriate for the local authority to provide;
  • Prepare a pathway plan;
  • To the extent that the Former Relevant child’s educational or training needs require it, provide financial assistance by:
    • Contributing to living expenses; or
    • Making a grant to meet expenses connected with the education and training.

These duties continue up to the Former Relevant child’s 25th birthday.

Qualifying Young People

They are over the age of 16 and under the age of 25, and have been Looked After or, if disabled, have been Privately Fostered after reaching 16, but do not qualify as Eligible, Relevant or Former Relevant. They may receive support, advice and assistance wherever they are living. If in full-time further or higher education, this may include assistance in relation to securing vacation accommodation. They may also qualify if they are the subject of a Special Guardianship Order (SGO) and were Looked After immediately before the SGO was made.

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 if applicable;
  • The child’s relatives have been consulted, where appropriate.

This includes 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 he was under 21, assistance in relation to securing vacation accommodation.

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) and victims of trafficking

Under the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010, a care leaver's needs in relation to their status as a victim of trafficking or an unaccompanied asylum seeking child must be considered when the local authority is preparing an assessment of needs and to require that, where a child is a victim of trafficking or an unaccompanied asylum seeking child the local authority must consider whether their related needs are being met when reviewing the child's pathway plan.

Personal Adviser

A Personal Adviser is the person appointed to work in relation to the eligible, relevant child or Former Relevant child, on the young person's 16th birthday, and will occupy a key role in providing support to the young person after he or she leaves care.

The Personal Adviser 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. Once the person reaches the age of 18 the personal adviser is responsible for completing the needs assessment and a pathway plan.

Where accommodation is provided to a young person by the responsible authority under section 23B or section 24B, of the Children Act 1989, the Personal Adviser must visit the Relevant child or Former Relevant child at that accommodation:

  • Within 7 days of the accommodation first being provided;
  • Subsequently, before the Pathway Plan is reviewed; and
  • At subsequent intervals of not more than 2 months unless it is agreed with the young person and recorded in pathway plan that this should not be the case.

The extent to which the Personal Adviser becomes the main source of advice and support to the young person will vary according to individual circumstances.

They should be kept up-to-date with the young person’s progress and wellbeing.

See Section 7, Personal Advisers.

Pathway Plan

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 their 25th birthday if required.


3. Expectations and Corporate Parenting

3.1 Expectations

The aim of the 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 all care leavers will require statutory support until up to age 25. 

Although each young person will be different, it would be expected that support for care leavers will taper away over time, in recognition of their growing maturity and independence. 

  • For care leavers  aged 16 and 17, the local authority is under an absolute duty to accommodate them, which does not apply once the young person reaches age 18;
  • For care leavers aged 18 and up to 21, there is a proactive duty on the local authority to keep in touch with care leavers (section 23C(2) of the Children Act 1989 Act), which does not apply to care leavers aged 21 or over, irrespective of whether those young people are already entitled to support because they are in education or training, or those who are covered by the new duty. (Although there is no requirement to proactively keep in touch with all young people aged over 21 up to age 25 throughout the year, the new duty (under the Children and Social Work Act 2017) requires local authorities to make care leavers aware that they can continue to request Personal Adviser  support as soon as possible after they turn 21; and on at least an annual basis thereafter. This applies regardless of whether a care leaver may have earlier declined the offer of Personal Adviser support. This requirement recognises that care leavers’ circumstances may change and confirms that all care leavers are entitled to Personal Adviser support at any time up to age 25. Sending a birthday card to care leavers, for example, presents an ideal opportunity to remind the young person of their entitlement to Personal Adviser support if they need it, through to age 25;
  • For care leavers aged 21 or over, the duties introduced through the Children and Social Work Act 2017 – to assess care leavers’ needs, and develop and keep under review a Pathway Plan – apply only where the young person requests support.

3.2 Corporate Parenting

The corporate parenting principles apply only to local authorities.  Directors of Children’s Services and Lead Members for Children should nevertheless ensure that relevant partners understand how they can assist local authorities and apply the principles in relation to the services those partners may provide. ‘Relevant partners’ include local policing bodies and Chief Officers of Police, local probation boards and probation services, youth offending teams, clinical commissioning groups, NHS England, schools and educational institutions.

Additionally, Corporate Parenting should include arrangements for ensuring that in two tier authorities that District and County councils work closely together as part of the role of corporate parent.

3.2.1 Corporate Parenting Principles

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 set out seven principles for Corporate Parenting:

  • To act in the best interests, and promote the physical and mental health and well-being, of those children and young people; 
  • To encourage those children and young people to express their views, wishes and feelings;
  • To take into account the views, wishes and feelings of those children and young people;
  • To help those children and young people gain access to, and make the best use of, services provided by the local authority and its relevant partners;
  • To promote high aspirations, and seek to secure the best outcomes, for those children and young people;
  • For those children and young people to be safe, and for stability in their home lives, relationships and education or work; and
  • To prepare those children and young people for adulthood and independent living.
See DfE, Applying Corporate Parenting Principles to Looked-after Children and Care Leavers – Statutory Guidance (Feb 2018).


4. Leaving Care Assessment of Need

All Young People - Eligible, Relevant or Former Relevant - 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 coordinating the Needs Assessment if the young person is under the age of 18.

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 young person's Care Plan together with information from the most recent Assessment will form the basis of the Needs Assessment.

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. 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, where a young person is transitioning from services to adult social care.

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.

All parties, including the social worker's manager, should sign the completed Needs Assessment Record. The young person should be provided with a copy in a format that is accessible to him or her 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 will be based on and include the young person's Care Plan.

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

Needs Assessment for those aged 21 and up to 25

The government guidance Extending Personal Adviser Support to All Care Leavers to Age 25 highlights that at this stage of their lives young adults needs will vary considerably. Some may need considerable continuing support with transition, whilst others will not take up the offer for continuing support. Therefore there should be a proportionate response, with some benefitting from a continued and full assessment of needs, whilst others who seek help for specific issues have a more focussed assessment which responds to their particular need and level of requested help


5. Pathway Planning

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.

The Pathway Plan will be based on and include a young person's Care Plan and the Personal Education Plan will inform and complement the 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.

If a young person has a disability they may have a person-centred plan or Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. However they should also have a Pathway Plan.

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 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 to improve their chance of employability;
  • 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.

The Pathway Plan must address in particular:

  • The young person’s health and development building on the information included in the young person’s EHC 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.

Where a transfer from Children's to Adult Services will be required, the young person’s social worker will complete the Adult Questionnaire, in consultation with the transitions worker. This will then be signed off by the SFM who presents it to the panel.

The SFM (Leaving Care) should approve and sign the Pathway Plan.

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

The young person will be provided with a copy of the most up to date Pathway Plan and the contents must be explained.

The young person will have a say about with whom the Pathway Plan will be shared when they leave care. If information is to be shared with a person or agency that the young person has not consented to, s/he must be informed of this, with reasons, and be given the opportunity to challenge this decision and to be present when the information is shared.

We need to ensure a ‘sharing information’ agreement is signed by the young person giving consent for information to be 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.

Pathway Planning 21 and up to Age 25

The local authority is required to offer all care leavers a Personal Adviser up to the age 25 and apply the corporate parenting principles when continuing support is agreed or requested.

However, the duty at this stage of a young adult’s life is seen as different from the age 18 – 20 in that it enables the local authority to offer support to some individuals who may need continuing support in the transition process. The level of support and intervention will vary considerably; many at this stage of their lives will not require, or want, ongoing help and will not have a Pathway Plan. However, for others:

  • There may be multiple issues which will require a Pathway Plan being fully completed and regular contacts, planning/co-ordinating meetings with partner agencies, etc.;
  •   Care leavers may  have single or specific issues where they require support and guidance, e.g.:
    • Pregnancy or becoming a parent;
    • Release from custody;
    • Mental health issues;
    • Risk of homelessness;
    • Debt, including rent arrears;
    • For advice or guidance on commencing education or training;
    • For advice or support following experience of domestic or sexual violence/abuse.
Where care leavers require support with single or specific issues, the Pathway Plan should be completed only in the relevant part that reflects the issues being dealt with.


6 Reviews of Pathway Plans

The Pathway Plan must be reviewed at least every 6 months for care leavers up to age 21. Thereafter, until the care leaver reaches the age of 25, the issues that have arisen which affect the care leaver will dictate how often Pathway Plans will need to be reviewed and updated. However, as a minimum this should be at least every six months.

Reviews should take place more often if requested by the young person or the Personal Adviser or where there has been a significant change in the young person's circumstances.

The purpose of the review is to check that the goals and milestones are still right and that they are being met. All levels of support should be reviewed to ensure that they are adequate and delivered according to plan.

For an Eligible Young Person, the date for the first review of the Pathway Plan will be set to coincide with the young person's next Looked After Review after the Pathway Plan has been drawn up.

For a Relevant Young Person, the date for the first review will, if possible, be set at the last Looked After Review before the young person ceases to be looked after. When the young person ceases to be looked after they will become a child in need for the duration of time in which they remain open to social care. The young person should be visited in accordance with practice standards for practitioners and child in need meetings should be held in line with practice standards. After a period of 6 months, in consultation with the Senior Fieldwork Manager in supervision and in consultation of members of the child in need meetings social work involvement can cease if there is no longer a role for social worker with the young person.

For a Former Relevant Young Person, the date for the first review will take place within six months of the young person's 18th birthday.

Whilst the young person is Eligible his or her Independent Reviewing Officer will chair reviews or support the young person to chair.

Otherwise, the SFM of the Leaving Care Service or his/her nominee will chair the Pathway Plan reviews or support the young person to chair.

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 SFM of the Leaving Care Service will retain a monitoring role, at six monthly intervals, to check the progress of the Pathway Plan.

Other participants at reviews should include the young person, Personal Adviser, the social worker (if the case is still allocated) and any other significant person.

The young person's expenses (travelling and subsistence) in attending the review will be met by the local authority.

If the eligible 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 Regulations 2010 and Schedule 6 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review 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.

It is good practice for a review to be held within 28 days of any change in the care leaver’s accommodation.

Where a Relevant or Former Relevant Young Person enters custody, pathway planning must continue. The young person must be visited on a regular basis and it is good practice for the first visit to take place within ten working days. The role must not be fulfilled by a YJS worker. The Local Authority must liaise with the YJS or Probation Provider to support the young person emotionally, practically and financially while in custody. A review of the Pathway Plan should be carried out at least a month before the young person's release to give sufficient time to plan for his or her resettlement, including identifying suitable accommodation where the young person's placement had to be given up or has been lost and identifying who will collect the young person and the sources of support after his or her release.

In the event of a Relevant or Former Relevant Young Person breaking off contact and/or not engaging with the agreed support and advice being offered, a review of the Pathway Plan may take place by telephone, e-mail or letter, if agreed in advance by the Chairperson and the Personal Adviser. In these circumstances the Personal Adviser will attempt to negotiate a revised plan that is acceptable to all parties.

Where contact is lost, the emphasis of the Pathway Plan Review will switch to record how attempts will be made to re-establish contact and these efforts will be reviewed within the established system.

A route back for the young person to seek support in the future should be kept open and communicated, for example by sending birthday cards and appropriate festive greetings, and ensuring that the young person receives any circulated information about services or events in which they may have an interest.

Where a Pathway Plan is amended as a result of a review, the Personal Adviser will amend the Plan. Any necessary approval to the amended financial arrangements will be sought from the Designated Manager (Leaving Care). Once the changes are approved, the Personal Adviser will send a copy of the amended Plan to the young person, the Chairperson and the Designated Manager.

For those over 21 up to age 25 the frequency of contact between Personal Advisers and care leavers will vary depending on the nature of each individual’s circumstances. (See Pathway Planning 21 and up to Age 25).


7. Personal Advisers

The Personal Adviser acts 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. All care leavers (including those who live out of authority) should be made aware of their entitlement to a Personal Adviser up to age 25.

The Personal Adviser will ensure the co-ordination of other agencies and individuals identified in the Pathway Plan.

It is the role of the Personal Adviser to keep in touch with the young person and to remain informed as to the young person's progress. 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. When a care leaver moves to new accommodation, the Personal Adviser must see them at that accommodation within 7 days of the move.

On each visit, the Personal Adviser must consider whether the accommodation continues to be suitable for the young person.

The Personal Adviser will take responsibility for initiating the review of the Pathway Plan and for recording its outcomes.

When allocating a Personal Adviser to an individual young person, consideration must be given to the wishes of the young person and to issues of gender, race, religion, linguistics, disabilities and equal opportunities. The assessment of need and a judgment as to who is most appropriate to fulfil the role of Personal Adviser will influence the choice and allocation of worker.

Care leavers between the age of 21 and under 25 who, following a discussion with their Personal Adviser, wish to continue to receive support, or those who return later during this period will have an entitlement to resume support from a Personal Adviser previously responsible for their leaving care support.

Depending on the level of their needs, the Personal Adviser’s role is expected to reduce over time and become focussed on specific issues with an emphasis on enabling the young adult to take increasingly more responsibility – signposting them to other agencies for information and guidance, including further education and training.

Personal Advisers should apply professional judgement when deciding what level of needs assessment is appropriate.

In all cases where support continues to be offered and provided at this stage, a record should continue to be made be made setting out the issues discussed, and details of any support that the local authority has agreed to provide, so that it can be demonstrated what action they have taken in response to the young adult’s request for support.

A route back for the young person to seek support in the future should be kept open and communicated, for example by sending a birthday card, appropriate festive greeting, letter or a leaflet on how to get in touch in the future, including a link, or details, as to how to access the Local Offer. Also ensuring that the young person receives any circulated information about services or events in which they may have an interest.

It should be explained to them that they will be supported to overcome any difficulties they may be experiencing. Where appropriate they should be advised they can return to education or training up to age 25 if this is their wish. (All young people who are Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET) should be encouraged to take up this offer of support).

Although there is no requirement to proactively keep in touch with all young people aged over 21 up to age 25 throughout the year, there is a duty which requires local authorities to make care leavers aware that they can continue to request Personal Adviser support when the person turns 21, and on at least an annual basis thereafter.

This applies regardless of whether a care leaver may have earlier declined the offer of such support. (As many local authorities send a birthday card to their care leavers, this presents a good opportunity to remind the young person of their entitlement to Personal Adviser support if they need it, up to age 25).


8. Education, Training and Employment

8.1 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.

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.

8.2 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.

8.3 The 16-19 Bursary Fund and Higher Education Bursary

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. See the Department for Education website/The 16-19 Bursary Fund.

The Higher Education Bursary is for care leavers in higher education.


9. Young People Resuming Education or Training After 21

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 service should meet with the young person and, based on the assessment of their needs and the suitability of the course, assign a Personal Adviser to participate in the preparation of a Pathway Plan. The plan should reflect the agreed educational outcomes for the young person and the type of support the young person will require. This assessment should draw on the information about the young person’s skills and capabilities which will have been set out in Pathway Plans up to age 25. 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.

Care leavers will need support and guidance to help them think about and plan their return to education or training, consider all aspects such as financial support and impact on housing or benefits. The re-instated Pathway Plan must have a specific focus on the support that the care leaver will need to be able to meet the education or training goals agreed.


10. Qualifying Young People

Services for Qualifying Young People will be determined by an assessment of need carried out by the Leaving Care Service. 

The support offered, which could be financial, will focus upon helping the young person to manage and cope in the community and to manage the transition to adulthood. Attempts will be made to ensure that they are able to access suitable accommodation and maintain social and family links.

Where necessary, in addition to support, practical help should be offered to the young person. This could include helping to acquire basic living skills and consideration of health needs and choices. Where necessary, links will be made with other services and assistance can be provided when he or she has to have contact with other agencies. Advice and support should also be offered in relation to employment, training and educational opportunities.

Where a Qualifying Young Person accesses education, or training, and is receiving financial assistance, based on the assessment of need, this will be possible up 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 personal assistant 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 personal assistant by making a written request to the SFM.

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


11. Where Care Leavers Live or Move to a Different Local Authority Area

Where a care leaver resides in a different local authority area, the local authority must seek to ensure that a service is provided that is commensurate with the service which he or she would receive if he or she had remained resident in the area.

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 Services must be arranged.


12. Staying Put

A Staying Put arrangement is where a young person who has been living in foster care remains in the former foster home after the age of 18.

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 should be an option.

For further information see the Staying Put Procedure.


13. 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 Access to Records Procedure, Applications by Care Leavers.


Appendix 1: Needs Assessment and Content of Pathway Plans for Relevant and Former Relevant Children

Click here to view Appendix 1: Needs Assessment and Content of Pathway Plans for Relevant and Former Relevant Children.

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