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5.9.1 Leaving Care Policy


Contents

  1. Introduction 
  2. Legal Framework 
  3. Development and Planning of Support Through Care Team Services 
  4. Model of Service Delivery 
  5. Preparation for Leaving Care 
  6. Involvement, Consultation and Participation 
  7. Access to Information 
  8. Right to Complain 
  9. Assessment of a Young Person’s Needs 
  10. Pathway Planning 
  11. Education, Training and Employment 
  12. Health 
  13. Support and Accommodation 
  14. Financial Arrangements 
  15. Support Through Care Team Personal Adviser 
  16. Keeping in Touch 
  17. Support for Care Leavers Aged 18 and Over 
  18. Support for Qualifying Young People 
  19. Care Leavers with Additional and Specific Needs 
  20. Inter-Authority Protocol 
  21. Training and Development of Staff and Carers


Interim Note on the Children and Social Work Act 2017 - in operation from April 2018

The impact upon Leaving Care Services and Care leavers

  • Local Offer: All local authorities must publish up-date information about the services it offers for care leavers and other services which may assist care leavers in, or preparing for, adulthood and independent living. Particularly: health and well-being; relationships; education and training; employment; accommodation; participation in society. This information should also include relevant services that can be accessed by its partner agencies (to follow);
  • Corporate parenting: the Act establishes 7 Corporate Parenting Principles, which should include and involve not only the Local Authority providing Children’s Social Care services, but also District Councils (where appropriate) and partner agencies. The Principles are:
    • 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.
  • Continuing Support Up to the Age of 25: whereas this has previously been offered where young adults are in education or training, the Children and Social Work Act 2017 highlights that at this stage of their lives care leavers’ 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 to those needs, with some having a full assessment of needs, whilst others have a more focussed assessment which responds to their particular need and level of requested help.

    Personal Advisers: in line with the above, Care leavers between the ages of 21 and up to 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. Personal Advisers should apply professional judgement when deciding what level of needs assessment is appropriate.


1. Introduction

Young people who have been Looked After by local authorities can face disproportionate disadvantage when compared to their peers. It is recognised that they have often experienced disrupted family lives, many changes of placement whilst Looked After and insufficient support after leaving public care. 

Brighton and Hove City Council Children and Families Services seeks to achieve improved outcomes for care leavers for whom it is responsible. This responsibility acknowledges the need for the local authority  to support the young person in the manner of a good parent. This support should be of a similar level to that offered by most good parents when their children prepare for and leave home. The support offered should be particular to the individual needs of the young person.

Brighton and Hove City Council is committed to the development of its role as a corporate parent. Preparation for independence is recognised as an on-going process requiring the local authority as a corporate parent to ensure that a young person’s needs are:
  • Properly assessed;
  • That care and pathway plans are in place;
  • And that the young person is fully involved in that process.

In the manner of a good parent the local authority would wish to encourage the aspirations of young people for whom they have a statutory and corporate responsibility.

Brighton and Hove City Council Children and Families Services  recognises that the quality of preparation for leaving care and the transition to adulthood is dependent upon the effective integrated working of statutory, voluntary and private organisations, young people and where appropriate their families. To achieve this, it is committed to partnership working and the development of new initiatives in order to deliver a comprehensive and integrated service to care leavers.

The Support Through Care Team is committed to its young people achieving equal access to and equal quality of services irrespective of national or ethnic origin, gender, disability, sexual preference, culture, religious belief, HIV status or geographical location.


2. Legal Framework

The Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010 and associated guidance are designed to ensure that care leavers are given the same level of care and support as their peers would expect from a reasonable parent and they are provided with comprehensive support to help them move successfully from care to adult hood.

These Regulations and Guidance are embodied in the Children and Young Persons Act 2008 and replace those issued when the provisions of the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 amended the Children Act 1989.

The Children Act 1989 remains the general legal framework for children and young people.  A general knowledge and understanding of the Children Act 1989 is essential if the provisions contained in subsequent guidance and regulations are to be effectively put into place.

The general Children Act 1989 principle remains that local authorities have a responsibility to provide young people with a level of care and support that replicates that expected from a family setting. Key principles of the Children Act 1989 include:

  • Taking into account the views of young people;
  • Consulting with them and keeping them informed;
  • Giving due consideration to young people’s race, culture, religion and linguistic background;
  • The importance of families and working with parents.

Guidance and Regulations: The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 Regulations and Guidance

The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 is based upon the consultation document “Me, Survive, Out There? – New Arrangements for Young People Living In and Leaving Care” July 1999. It enacts commitments made within the White Paper “Modernising Social Services” 1998 and the Government’s response to “The Children’s Safeguards Review” 1998. The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 realises two fundamental policy objectives: that young people should not leave care until they are willing and ready to do so and that leaving care should not mean the withdrawal of personal support. The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 exists in a wider policy context of work to secure a better future for both care leavers and other vulnerable young people.

The Guidance to the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 describes its purpose to improve the life chances of young people living in and leaving local authority care. Its main aims are:

  • To delay young people’s discharge from care until they are prepared and ready to leave;
  • To improve the assessment, preparation and planning for leaving care;
  • To provide better personal support for young people after leaving care;
  • To improve the financial arrangements for care leavers.

The powers and duties of local authorities to prepare young people for the time when they cease to be so looked after are described in paragraphs 19A to 19C of Part II of Schedule 2 and in sections 23A to 23E and 24, 24A and 24B of the Children Act 1989 as amended by the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000. A duty to prepare young people for the time they are no longer cared for applies to voluntary organisations (section 61(1)(c)) and residential children’s homes (section 64(1)(c)). All of these powers and duties must be carried out in the light of the general childcare principles on which the Children Act 1989 is based.

Guidance and Regulations: The Care Planning, Placements and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010

Guidance in relation to young people entitled to support to prepare them to leave care but who remain looked after (i.e. “eligible children”) is included in Volume 2 of the Children Act 1989 Guidance – Care Planning, Placement and Case Review regulations and statutory guidance (‘the Care Planning Regulations’). 

Guidance and Regulations:  The Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010

The Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010 largely concerns information about the support provided to young people who have ceased to be looked after (i.e. those referred to in the legislation as “relevant” and “former relevant” children). Guidance in relation to young people entitled to support to prepare them to leave care but who remain looked after (i.e. “eligible children”) is included in Volume 2 of the Children Act 1989 Guidance – Care Planning, Placement and Case Review regulations and statutory guidance (‘the Care Planning Regulations’). This describes a comprehensive framework of assessment, care planning, intervention and case review that must be followed by local authorities to plan the support they will give to prepare 16 and 17 year olds for the time when they will not be looked after.

The main aim of the Care Leavers Regulations is to make sure that care leavers are provided with comprehensive personal support so that they achieve their potential as they make their transition to adulthood.

Definitions: The categories of young people defined by the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 are set out in the table below. This has been updated (May 2012) to reflect the changes introduced by the 2010 Regulations. It includes a new expectation that young people can return to their responsible authority (i.e. the authority that last looked after them) for services up to their 25th birthday.

Eligible Children

Children aged 16 and 17 who have been Looked After for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14 and who are still Looked After.

The statutory definition of ‘Eligible Young People’ and the requirements to undertake a needs assessment, prepare a Pathway Plan, keep the Pathway Plan under review and appoint a Personal Adviser remain unchanged although they are now covered by Regulations 42, 43 and 44 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010.
Relevant Children

Children aged 16 and 17 who have been Looked After for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14 and have been Looked After at some time while 16 or 17 and who are no longer Looked After. 

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  remain the same although they are now covered by Regulations 4 to 9 of the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010.
Former Relevant Children

Young people aged 18-21 who have been either Eligible or Relevant Children or both.  If at the age of 21 a young person is still being assisted by the responsible authority with education or training, that young person remains a Former Relevant child to the end of the agreed programme of education or training (up to the age of 24).

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 although 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.
Former Relevant Children who take up full time education after the age of 21 and before the age of 25

The Children and Young People’s Act 2008 includes provision so that where a former child previously entitled to leaving care services wishes to take up additional education or training beyond the age of 21, but before the age of 25, then their responsible authority must ensure that they are allocated continuing Personal Adviser support set out below:

  • 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 subsist 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.

Qualifying Children and Young People over 16

Section 24 (1): Any young person aged under 21 (under 24 if in education or training) who cease to be Looked After or accommodated in a variety of other settings, or privately fostered, after the age of 16.

Responsible Authority Section 23A (4): The authority, which last Looked After the child or young person.

The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 does not replace the Children Act 1989. It builds upon and extends the duties and powers included in the leaving care and aftercare provisions of the Children Act 1989.

The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 introduces the term Responsible Authority. This is the authority that last Looked After the young person wherever the young person is living. This is aimed at providing continuity of care and preventing disputes between local authorities over the issue of who is responsible for provision of services.

Children's Homes and Looked after Children (Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) Regulations 2013

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 legislation also has to be seen within the broader Government agenda of tackling social exclusion. There have been a number of policy initiatives in relation to youth homelessness, young people excluded from education, training and employment and teenage parenthood, all of which have implications for children and young people in and leaving care.


3. Development and Planning of Support Through Care Team Services

Policy

The planning and development of Leaving Care Services will be an ongoing process involving strategic partnerships and participation of young people.

Practice and Guidance

The 16 Plus Advisory Board, which consists of a cross representation of young people from Support Through Care Team and YPAS is actively involved in service delivery improvement.

The Support Through Care Team Service has positive and robust links with partner agencies both on an informal and contractual basis and service delivery improvement results from these partnerships with strategic lead from the Pod Team Manager, Children in Care & Corporate Parenting.


4. Model of Service Delivery

Service Description

The Support Through Care Team is located in the Brighton and Hove City Council Children & Families Services. This name was adopted in 2007 in response to feedback from young people and carers who feared that transfer to “Leaving Care” meant early discharge from care! The Team assumes case responsibility for Looked After Children on or shortly after their 16th birthday and by maintaining case responsibility provides through care to the age of 21 (or 24 in certain circumstances).

The Support Through Care Team recognises care leavers as an extremely diverse group of young people with different and varied needs. Therefore measures aimed at improving outcomes are individually tailored and pay attention to issues of race, religion, gender, sexuality, class, ability and disability. Services developed for care leavers must therefore be flexible and be based upon partnership principles in order that these young people gain access to a broad range of services in the community. These partnerships should be established across a broad range of statutory, voluntary and community organisations that contribute to services for care leavers. Most importantly, partnerships must either include the participation of care leavers themselves or demonstrate effective means of having their views represented.

The Support Through Care Team offers a range and mix of skills and experience in working with young people. In addition to Support Through Care Team Personal Advisers, the Team comprises of a Nurse/Health Adviser, Employment & Training Personal Adviser, Supported Lodgings Co-ordinator and Business Support Manager. Flexible and comprehensive services are provided that include:

  • Preparation for adulthood work;
  • The provision of safe, secure and affordable accommodation;
  • A co-ordinating role in respect of maintaining personal support systems for young people;
  • Information, advice and support in accessing continuing education;
  • Advice and support in accessing appropriate health care;
  • Advice and support in accessing training and employment;
  • Advice on welfare rights;
  • The undertaking of the role of Personal Adviser;
  • The continuing assessment of a young person’s needs and the preparation of Pathway Plans.

Members of the Support Through Care Team work in close conjunction with social workers in the Support Through Care Team to ensure a smooth transition from one service to the other. This will be achieved by a period of co-working from 15 ½  when the Support Through Care Team will prepare the Leaving Care Needs Assessment with the Young Person. Looked After Children case responsibility remains with the social worker in the Support Through Care Team until the young person reaches the age of 16. The case responsibility for the young person transfers to the Support Through Care Team on or around their 16th birthday but most importantly at a time that is appropriate for that young person. 

The Support Through Care Team becomes responsible for Looked After Children undertaking the keyworker and the Personal Adviser role for all young people when they reach the age of 16. The Support Through Care Team provides a comprehensive service for young people that balances their Child in Need status with that of preparation for independence. The Team operates an integrated and through-care service delivery model up to the age of 21, or 24 where a young person commences a designated further or higher education course before the age of 21.

The Support Through Care Team will ensure that the needs, wishes and feelings of children aged 16 and 17 years Looked After under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 but no longer accommodated in Brighton and Hove care placements are compatible with the powers and duties to Eligible and Relevant Children under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000.

It will also aim to ensure that Young People are Looked After up to their 18th birthday and that, where possible, the 'Relevant' status will become a residual category.

See Guidance and Procedure for the Deregulation of Eligible Children.


5. Preparation for Leaving Care

Policy

All services for young people will support the transition of a young person from dependence to semi-independent or independent living. This preparation and support will take place well in advance of the time that a young person ceases to be Looked After. It will take into account the young person’s maturity, emotional development and readiness and ability to move on.

Guidance and Practice

The transition from childhood to adulthood is a lengthy process and services should support the gradual transition of a young person from dependence to independence. Preparation for leaving care should:

  • Develop a young person’s capacity to make satisfactory relationships with others;
  • Enable young people to develop their self-esteem;
  • Teach practical and financial skills and knowledge;
  • Enable young people to fulfil their aspirations.

It is a basic principle that young people should be central to discussions and plans for their future. It should only be in exceptional circumstances that decisions are made without their full participation. 

All preparation for leaving care and the provision of after care must take account of the diverse needs of young people.

In essence, preparation for independence has two distinct phases:

  • Informal preparation from the day a young person becomes a Looked After Child;
  • More formal and focussed preparation from the age of sixteen.

In the informal phase strategies for preparation for independence should aim to mirror and recognise that for most people living in their own families, preparing for adulthood begins from an early age. With careful planning and thought young people can learn skills such as basic cooking, household cleaning etc. as an integrated part of foster placements and within other care establishments. This low-key learning often takes place in foster homes and by formally acknowledging this it can help to raise the status and recognition of carers’ vital roles. Additionally, when a formal focus on independence begins, the young person already has a good grounding of skills on which to build.

The formal phase begins with the Leaving Care Assessment of Need, the development of the Pathway Plan and the introduction of the Leaving Care Personal Adviser. This is the key framework upon which young people are prepared for leaving care.

Preparation for leaving care must be handled sensitively. The work should be planned and seen as long term. Young people should leave care when they are ready to do so. The preparatory work should therefore take place at the young person’s pace. At 16 the idea of independence may be unsettling and unless approached in a reassuring way the work could be counter-productive.

Procedure

At the time of case transfer the area team social worker should ensure that the following are in place and up to date for the young person subject of transfer:

  • Bank Account;
  • Birth Certificate;
  • NHS Registration and Number;
  • Certificates of Achievement;
  • Registration with GP;
  • Registration with Dentist;
  • Registration with Optician (where appropriate);
  • National Insurance Number;
  • Passport;
  • HC1 Prescriptions Form.

To ensure that young people are equipped with the life skills that they need for the transition to independence Preparation for Adulthood training will be provided for Foster Carers, Supported Lodgings Carers and Supported Housing Providers.

The 1:1 relationship that will develop between the young person and their Leaving Care Personal Adviser will be enhanced by the provision of group work. Personal Advisers should be aware that a rolling programme of group work is available for young people aged 18-21.

Completion of the Independent Living Skills Course (ILSC) will be a pre-requisite of any Young Person being nominated for their own tenancy. The Peer Support scheme will also provide support from older care leavers to their younger peers.


6. Involvement, Consultation and Participation

Policy

Young people should be fully involved in all aspects of decision-making that affect their lives.

Guidance and Practice

The Brighton and Hove participation strategy for young people seeks to ensure that a number of methods exist by which young people can participate in and contribute to the development of policies and services that affect them as care leavers. Brighton and Hove’s Participation Service and the Youth Advocacy Project (YAP) will work alongside the Leaving Care Service and young people to establish a variety of ways in which young people can participate in the development of services.

Procedure

The 16+ Advisory Board, which consists of a cross representation of young people from Support Through Care Team is actively involved in service delivery improvement. It is a sub-group of Brighton and Hove’s Children in Care Council, is a co-opted member of the Corporate Parenting sub-Committee and has developed links with South East Region CiCC’s and the national Young People’s Benchmarking Forum.

To ensure that a broad range of views contribute to the development of the Leaving Care Service, consultation is undertaken on a themed basis. All young people are invited to participate in sessions that explore specific aspects of the Service. These take the form of consultation exercises, “60 Second Surveys”, “Exit” interviews at ages 18 and 21, informal discussion at social events. It is also most important to note the value of the views expressed by young people to their Personal Advisers and carers and to have effective mechanisms in place to ensure that these views are taken into account

Young people have played a vital role in the development of the Leaving Care Assessment of Need and Pathway Plan formats, the ‘Leaving Care – Promises’ and ‘Leaving Care – Aims’ and will continue to play a crucial part in service development. In the recruitment and selection of Leaving Care Service staff young people and managers form one combined interview panel.


7. Access to Information

Policy

Young people will be provided with a range of information about the role of the Leaving Care Service, other key organisations and details of wider community resources. In recognition that young people’s needs are different and varied information will be provided in a range of forms.

Guidance and Practice

All young people are provided with accessible information that gives details of the leaving care services available from Brighton and Hove Children and Families Services and other relevant agencies. The presentation of this information may have to vary according to the needs of young people arising from ethnic origin, linguistic needs or specific disabilities.

Procedure

Information about the Leaving Care Service, provided by the Support Through Care Team, is available on the B&HCC website.

Young People, their carers and families, where appropriate, are provided with written information that details the service promises (i.e. what the service will deliver) and the service aims (i.e. how the service will aim to improve). These guarantees and aims were developed and agreed with participation of the 16+ Advisory Board.

Young people receive focussed information about specific areas of service delivery at appropriate times. At or shortly after the transfer to the Leaving Care Service, the following information is given to the young person:
  • Complaints procedure process (if not already provided);
  • “Sorted and Supported” leaflet (Voice for the Child in Care);
  • Financial Support information from their leaflets updated annually.

Information regarding accommodation options will be given at the time of completing the Pathway Plan.

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.


8. Right to Complain

Policy

A complaint from a young person will be taken seriously. If access to an advocate is required this will be offered through the Brighton and Hove Youth Advocacy Project (YAP) both to help make the complaint and then to provide support throughout the process.

Guidance and Practice

The Authority has a duty to provide care leavers with a full representations and complaints process, additionally, there is a duty to provide an initial 14-day informal resolution stage in the complaint process to the following groups of care leavers:

  • Eligible Children;
  • Relevant Children;
  • Former Relevant Children;
  • Persons qualifying for advice and assistance;
  • Persons qualifying for advice and assistance, formerly Looked After by a local authority, and receiving assistance in connection with education/training.

The time period begins when Brighton and Hove Children and Families Services  receives the complaint. Upon receipt of the complaint  Children and Families Services must provide a written summary of the complaint to the designated complaints officer and must try by informal means to reach a settlement to the satisfaction of the young person within the 14 days.

If the young person is not satisfied with the resolution of his complaint at the end of the 14 day period, Children and Families Services must notify the Complaint Officer of the failure and the young person of his right to begin the formal complaints process. This notice must be in writing.

Young people must be given clear and accessible information on the complaints process and Children and Families Services must ensure that a young person is offered access to an advocate both to help make a complaint and then to provide help throughout the process.

In effect, all complaints must proceed through a formal process. The 14 days informal resolution phase puts in abeyance the full formal complaints procedure.

If the young person’s complaint hinges on the level of accommodation provision or financial maintenance then the full complaints procedure should be used from the outset.

Whenever a complaint is received the Complaints Officer’s advice will be sought as to how best to progress the complaint and by whom within the 14-day informal resolution stage.

Procedure

Young people should at all times have access to complaints information and access to an advocate should they require assistance in making a complaint.


9. Assessment of a Young Persons Needs 

Policy

All case planning and work towards preparing a young person for leaving care is based upon a robust assessment of need.

Guidance and Practice

The Leaving Care Assessment of Need has been developed in conjunction with the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families and is based on and guided by its principles. The Leaving Care Assessment of Need will be informed by all those who contribute to the care of the young person at the time of compilation.

The Leaving Care Assessment of Need informs and is crucial to the development of the Pathway Plan and ensures that appropriate services are provided to the young person.

Each young person will be provided with a written statement explaining the Leaving Care Assessment of Need process. This statement will include information as to:

  • Who will be responsible for co-ordinating and taking forward the assessment;
  • The timescale for the assessment and who is to be consulted;
  • How the outcome is to be recorded;
  • What the young person can do if he or she is unhappy with any part of the process or the outcome of the assessment.

The Leaving Care Assessment of Need should address the following issues:

  • The young person’s identity, health and development;
  • The young person’s needs in education, training or employment;
  • The support available to the young person from their family and other relationships;
  • The young person’s financial needs;
  • The extent to which the young person possesses the practical and other skills necessary for independent living;
  • The young person’s needs for care, support and accommodation.

In undertaking the Assessment every effort should be made to take into account the wishes and feelings of the young person. The young person’s wishes and views should be central to the decision on who to involve in the Assessment process. The Act provides for the Leaving Care Assessment of Need to be carried out at the same time as an assessment under any other enactment. A young person should not be subject to a succession of overlapping assessments.

Procedure

The written Leaving Care Assessment of Need is the foundation for and informs the Pathway Plan. To ensure that the young person’s needs are thoroughly assessed the Leaving Care Assessment of Need will be completed by the young person’s 16th birthday, by their Personal Adviser, and will be signed off by the relevant Pod Team Manager. 


10. Pathway Planning

Policy

All Eligible and Relevant young people will have a Pathway Plan in place and this is reviewed by the young person’s Independent Reviewing Officer every 6 months or more frequently where there is a change in the Care Plan. 

Former Relevant Children will have a Pathway Plan which will cover the same topics and fulfil the same functions as that for Eligible and Relevant Children and this will be reviewed every 6 months.

Guidance and Practice

The Pathway Plan is the tool by which a young person maps out their plans and aspirations for the future and is central to the process of improving their life chances. The Plan should articulate the young person’s aspirations and identify interim goals along the way to realising their ambitions. It is extremely important that the young person owns the Pathway Plan and the full participation of the young person in its development is crucial. The Plan should look ahead at least as far as the young person’s 21st birthday and beyond that in cases where the young person is engaged in a programme of education or training.

It is envisaged that the Pathway Plan and the Care Plan will inform and complement each other. By its nature the Pathway Plan is more adaptable and young person focused than the overall Care Plan.

The Pathway Plan must clearly identify the roles of each person who has a part to play in supporting the care leaver. All support should be of a flexible nature and built on the individual needs of the young person. Young people have the right to make mistakes and continue to be supported.

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.

Pathway planning must be seen as part of a continuous and comprehensive planning process that takes place throughout the young person’s care experience. The Pathway Plan may need to be adapted or changed frequently but in circumstances that do not affect the overall care plan process. For Eligible Children the Pathway Plan complements and incorporates key elements of the Looked After Children planning system.

The Planning Transitions to Adulthood for Care Leavers Guidance (2015) specifies that the Pathway Plan must now include:

  • 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;
  • 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 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 needs, and details of the considerations taken into account in assessing that suitability); 
  • Details of the arrangements made by the authority to meet the young person's needs in relation to identity with particular regard to their religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background;
  • The local authority should have a flexible approach to supporting young people; It should be borne in mind that the it has a duty to accept young people aged 16 and 17 yrs back in to care if a young person’s decision to move into semi-independent accommodation, leave care or decline leaving care services is then identified as premature.

Procedure

See Pathway Plan Review Procedure.

Care Leavers who Require Additional Specialist Support

Disabled Young People

The 2010 Regulations emphasise the need for person-centred and strategic planning approaches to ensure that disabled young people’s transition to adulthood is focused on what needs to be in place to ensure they receive the support required to achieve their goals. Close scrutiny will be required on the eligibility for adult social care provision which is governed by the Department of Health Guidance on ‘Eligibility Criteria for Adult Social Care’ (2010). This details how local authorities may provide community care services to individual adults with needs arising from physical, sensory, learning or cognitive disabilities and impairments, or from mental health difficulties.

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC)

UASC’s making the transition from care to adulthood have both a leaving care status and an immigration status in addition to their placement and accommodation, education, health, financial, religious and cultural needs. Planning transition to adulthood for these young people is a particularly complex process that needs to address their care needs in the context of wider asylum and immigration legislation and how these needs change over time.

Additionally Pathway Plans should always consider the implications for young people if their application to extend their leave to remain is refused or their appeal against refusal of that application is dismissed.

Care Leavers in the Youth Justice System

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 YOS worker. The Local Authority must liaise with the YOS 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.


11. Education, Training and Employment

Policy

Brighton and Hove Children and Families Services aims to improve the education, training and employment outcomes for young people in and leaving care.

Guidance and Practice

Brighton & Hove Children and Families Services  is committed to ensuring a continual improvement in the level of education, training and employment amongst young people aged 19 who were looked after in their 17th year. This commitment is enshrined in targets set by central government (SSDA903).

Children and Families Services will maintain formal joint working arrangements with education, employment and training providers to maximise access for young people to appropriate programmes. Pathway Plans should outline how the local authority will improve the employability of their care leavers and should ensure that care leavers are aware of and get access to work experience, apprenticeships and other training and employment opportunities.

The Leaving Care Service places a high priority on achieving positive outcomes for young people in education and training. These areas are crucial to improving employability which in turn contribute to maximising young people’s life chances. Positive outcomes in these areas will make the achievement of personal and financial security for care leavers more likely. The Leaving Care Service will work corporately to develop and maintain an environment that promotes positive employment outcomes for care leavers.

Education

The Pathway Plan should build upon the Care Plan and the Personal Education Plan which is now required for every Looked After Child up to the end of Year 11. The Personal Education Plan should continue to be maintained while the young person continues to receive full time or part time education. It should be continually assessed within the overall care planning process and forms the basis for the Pathway Plan’s Education, Training and Employment sections. The assessment of educational needs should not view education solely in terms of performance in academic assessments and tests. It should be more comprehensive covering as the whole the education and personal development of the young person. Refer to the “Guidance on the Education of Children and Young People in Public Care”.

Training

The Leaving Care Service will work with local training providers to develop flexible and innovative training programmes that meet the varied needs of care leavers.

Employment

Pathway planning for employment will be greatly assisted by work previously carried out in regard to education and training. The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 Regulations and Guidance requires specific attention to be given to:

  • Gathering information about a young person’s achievement and potential;
  • Carrying out an assessment of young people’s capabilities in relation to employment;
  • Identifying what work needs to be done to increase a young person’s employability;
  • Exploring and opening up employment opportunities for young people;
  • Developing links with local employers;
  • Identifying the different sources of support for young people;
  • Making efforts to ensure that young people for whom full-time paid employment is not an option, such as those with profound learning difficulties, are engaged in positive activities.

The Leaving Care Service recognises the advantage of young people participating in a range of voluntary and work experience activities that contribute to their employability prospects. Leaving care personal advisers will identify or provide assistance for young people to develop these opportunities.

Procedure

When completing the Education, Training and Employment sections of the Pathway Plan, the Leaving Care Personal Adviser must cross reference with the young person’s Personal Education Plan and the Employment & Training Personal Adviser.

The Pathway Plan should identify any financial or practical support that is required by the young person to assist in achieving their Education, Training or Employment goals. 

Young People Resuming Education or Training After 21

Young people previously eligible for leaving care services resuming programmes of education or training after the age of 21 are entitled to continuing support from a Personal Adviser.

The definition of a programme of education or training must be interpreted broadly. For example, this might include options such as: completion of a basic skills course, so that the young person has the numeracy and literacy skills needed to compete in the jobs market; take up of a course of further education; take up of a university place; support to enable the young person to complete a recognised postgraduate qualification; or participation in vocational training and apprenticeships.

Where a care leaver requests this support, an assessment should be made to assess the appropriateness of the education or training course and how it will help them to achieve their ambitions. The leaving care team should meet with the young person and, based on the assessment of their needs and the suitability of the course, assign a 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 21. The extent of practical and financial assistance provided will depend on the assessment of the young person’s needs and will reflect the type of course, whether it is full or part time and the young person’s existing income.

All care leavers (including those who live out of authority) should be made aware of their entitlement to a Personal Adviser up to age 25 if they wish to return to education and training, including by the provision of information (e.g. a letter or leaflet) on how to get in touch in the future. It should be explained to them that they will be supported to overcome difficulties so that they can return to education or training up to age 25 if this is their wish. In particular, all young people who are not in education, employment, or training (NEET) should be encouraged to take up this offer of support.

This entitlement to resume the pathway planning process and a support relationship with a Personal Adviser starts from the time the young person informs the local authority of their intention to resume their education or training and ends with the completion of the course. This may include the need for continuing assistance where young people seek support to complete a series of education/training opportunities. Young people do not need to have decided what education or training they would like to pursue. In such cases, the Personal Adviser should help the young person identify the options best suited to them.

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.


12. Health

Policy

Brighton and Hove Children and Families Services will address the health needs of a young person in ways that ultimately help the young person to take responsibility for his or her own health care.

Policy and Guidance

All assessments of health needs should be comprehensive in approach. The assessment of health needs and the maintenance of detailed health records should assist in pathway planning.

Planning should:

  • Promote a healthy lifestyle;
  • Ensure the appropriate use of primary health care services by young people;
  • Provide access to specialist help and therapeutic services;
  • Promote leisure interests;
  • Specify entitlements to free prescriptions, where appropriate;
  • Provide for help to complete an HC1 form to access the NHS Low Income Scheme, where appropriate;
  • Pay attention to the need to have accessible information on healthy living, sexual health and sexuality, and mental health;
  • Ensure that disabled young people obtain access to mainstream health care services as well as to any specialist service related to their impairment;
  • Pay attention to the health, dietary and cultural needs of young people from minority ethnic communities;
  • Help young people to take responsibility for their own health care.

Improving the health of young people and promoting healthy lifestyles is dependent upon effective partnership working across a broad range of health services. The Leaving Care Service, in partnership with its own Nurse/Health Adviser, the Nurse Consultant for Looked After Children, the Teenage Pregnancy Co-ordinator, the Young People’s Substance Misuse Service and other related services, will be instrumental in developing and sustaining health initiatives for care leavers.

Procedure

At the time of case transfer to the Support Through Care Team, the Leaving Care Personal Adviser will ensure that the young person is registered with a GP, a dentist and that all medical checks are up to date. The 16+ Nurse and Personal Adviser will also encourage the young person to continue with their annual health assessments until they cease to be looked after and beyond 18 to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The Support Through Care Team Nurse and Personal Adviser will ensure that Teenage Pregnancy and Substance Misuse Screening Tools are regularly employed and that subsequent referrals to appropriate services and agencies and made.

Where the Leaving Care Personal Adviser identifies that a young person has additional health needs, referral is made to a specialist service. This will be either the Leaving Care Service Nurse/Health Adviser, the Nurse Consultant for Looked After Children or the appropriate universal health agency.

Leaving Care Personal Advisers will continue to encourage young people to seek advice and assistance with all their health needs including sexual health and advice regarding drugs and alcohol where necessary.

Leaving Care Personal Advisers should encourage leisure activities that broadly promote a healthy lifestyle and contribute to emotional and physical well-being. (See also Financial Procedures). The personal adviser will ensure that all Looked After young people receive a “Listen Up” card entitling them to free use of leisure and sports facilities in Brighton and Hove.


13. Support and Accommodation

Policy

Brighton and Hove Children and Families Services will ensure that young people have access to safe, secure and affordable accommodation that suits their needs and that an appropriate level of housing support is provided.

See also Staying Put Policy and Practice Guidance.

Guidance and Practice

As a matter of good practice young people will be encouraged to remain in foster care or supported lodgings until they are ready for supported housing or their own independent accommodation. No young person should have to move from a care placement to an independent or supported housing living situation unless this is based upon the needs and wishes of the young person.

The Children (Leaving Care) Act requires the responsible authority to either provide or fund suitable accommodation for Relevant young people unless they are satisfied that their welfare does not require it.

In effect this means that the Children & Families Services must provide and/or fund placements for young people up to the age of 18 (Eligible and Relevant Children). The primary responsibility for providing accommodation for care leavers beyond the age of 18 (Former Relevant Children) rests with the Directorate of Housing and City Support.

Types of accommodation that are designated as suitable or unsuitable for young people leaving care are specified in the Guidance and Regulations to the Children (Leaving Care) Act. See also Matters to which the Local Authority is to have Regard in Determining Suitability of Accommodation).

Suitable accommodation:

  • Supported hostels;
  • Community homes;
  • Lodgings including those with former foster carers*;
  • Foyers;
  • Self built housing;
  • Privately rented, furnished and unfurnished*;
  • Local authority and housing association tenancies*;
  • Shared supported housing;
  • Lone parent supported accommodation.

    (*whether supported or not)

Unsuitable accommodation:

  • Bed and breakfast accommodation;
  • Emergency hostels/night shelters;
  • Any accommodation that exposes the young person to risk of harm or social exclusion by reason of its location.

The accommodation needs of an Eligible or Relevant young person must be included in the Leaving Care Assessment of Need.

Throughout the process of transition to inter-dependence Children and Families Services will aim to ensure that care leavers have access to both semi-independent and independent accommodation that:

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 Care 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.

Procedure

The Leaving Care Service is continually developing the range of available accommodation options that will meet the individual needs of this diverse group of young people. These include:

  • Foster Care;
  • Supported Lodgings;
  • Supported Housing (with either on-site or floating support);
  • Private Tester Flats;
  • Local Authority and Housing Association Tenancies;
  • Emergency Accommodation.

The Supported Lodgings scheme meets Fostering Regulations and is registered with the National Care Standards Commission. Contractual arrangements and regularly reviewed service level agreements govern Supported Housing and Emergency accommodation with voluntary sector partners. The level of support provided ranges from 24 hour on-site to low-level floating support. Tenancies for the tester flats are arranged by the Leaving Care Service with private sector landlords and these properties are sub-let to 16-17 year old young people who are ready to try out inter-dependent living before the age of 18. The provision of a Leaving Care Personal Adviser responsible for the Supported Lodgings Scheme in the role of Co-ordinator will assist the Service in the provision and arrangement of appropriate accommodation options.

Leaving Care Personal Advisers will be responsible for developing a co-ordinated accommodation plan for each young person. This should be discussed in detail with the young person and agreed with the Pod Team Manager.

Young people will be encouraged to remain in a Brighton and Hove foster placement until they are prepared, able and ready to leave. For those engaged in further education or who are particularly vulnerable, encouragement and financial support will be available to enable them to remain in foster care. This need should be identified in the Pathway Plan at as early a stage as possible so that appropriate planning can be undertaken. When this occurs post-18, these placements are converted to Supported Lodgings and where possible Supporting People funding and any Income Support/ Job Seekers Allowance or Housing Benefit entitlements should be maximised.

When developing the Accommodation section of the Pathway Plan, Leaving Care Personal Advisers should consider the appropriateness of supported lodgings or supported housing as a bridge to inter-dependence. If identified, a referral will be made to the Supported Lodgings Co-ordinator or Supported Housing Provider in consultation with the Pod Team Manager, where appropriate.

Young people leaving care are a priority group and can access the Brighton and Hove Housing Register at any time between the ages of 18-21. A Joint Protocol on the assessment and provision of care leavers housing needs takes a corporate approach to ensure this goal is achieved. Following a decision by full council in April 2012 on the Allocations Policy, young people leaving care between the ages of 18-21 when they have been assessed as being ready for independent living and being able to maintain and sustain their own general needs tenancies are accepted as priority need and awarded Band ‘A’ in the allocations procedure.

See Joint Protocol for Care leavers (updated version to follow).

Care leavers should be informed that they are exempt from the single-room rent restriction that applies to other 18-22 year old young people. Young people will also receive assistance to maximise any financial support available from the Housing Benefit system.

As it is a requirement that care leavers in Higher Education or in Residential Further Education have appropriate and suitable accommodation during vacations, plans for this provision should be made well in advance and identified in the Pathway Plan.

In the vary rare occasions when there is no alternative but to use Bed and Breakfast establishments for emergency accommodation, the following must apply:


14. Financial Arrangements

Policy

Brighton and Hove Children and Families Services  will ensure that young people aged 16 and 17 (Eligible and Relevant Children) have access to financial support that meets their needs and that young people aged 18 to 21 and in certain circumstances 24 (Former Relevant children) have access to financial assistance.

Guidance and Practice

The responsible authority has the primary income maintenance role for both Eligible and Relevant Children. Brighton and Hove Children and Families Services will provide clear information to young people about its responsibility regarding the provision of financial support. 

No young person will receive financial support that amounts to less in value than he or she would receive if he or she were entitled to state benefits. Decisions on how much financial support will be provided or how that support is to be provided will be based upon a full assessment of the young person’s needs. 

It is recognised that the young person’s ability to manage their finances is a major factor in their ability to live independently as adults and that this is a skill that takes time to develop. It is a commitment of  Brighton and Hove Children and Families Services  that children and young people should be given the opportunity to manage any monies in a supervised and supportive setting throughout the transition period of leaving care.

Procedure

The financial support provided to Eligible and Relevant Young People (See Definitions above) is provided on an equitable basis and reflects their accommodation and placement type rather than their legal status:

  • Young people in foster care receive their allowances as detailed in the Foster Carers Handbook;
  • Young people in supported lodgings receive a weekly personal allowance from the Leaving Care Service which includes a clothing allowance commensurate with the prevailing benefit rate for under-25’s;
  • Young people in supported housing, private tenancies and emergency accommodation receive a weekly living allowance from the Leaving Care Service commensurate with the prevailing benefit rate for under-25’s.

Allowances can be paid in cash or kind dependent upon the needs and circumstances of the young person. Any change of payment type will be undertaken following an assessment of need. Where possible, payments should be made direct to young people’s bank accounts with assistance in developing budgeting skills provided.

Emergency cash payments to cover reported lost or stolen allowances will unless in exceptional circumstances be restricted to one in any six-month period. Emergency assistance thereafter within the six-month period will be given in food parcels or vouchers equivalent to the value of the lost or stolen allowance.

Young people will be issued with a weekly or monthly bus pass to assist with their education, training and employment opportunities. Additionally the pass will assist with family and friends contact and their leisure, religious and cultural needs.

Young people will be provided with all relevant and necessary expenses connected with their education, training and employment. These expenses will be identified in the Financial Support section of the Pathway Plan.

Where young people undertake a traineeship, the training allowance payable replaces the weekly living allowance. If the training allowance is less than the prevailing rate of benefits, the young person will receive a top up equivalent to that amount so as not to be disadvantaged.

Where a young person chooses to remain in education beyond school leaving age or engage in a training programme, as an encouragement to continue they will receive a weekly incentive allowance. This will be paid during Christmas and Easter vacations but not during the summer vacation when the expectation is that they will find temporary employment. This allowance will be paid in circumstances where the young person is not entitled to the Education Bursary.

Young people who are parents can access Care to Learn for support with childcare costs. Lone parents can and should be assisted to claim benefits from the day their child is born. Claiming these benefits is a precursor to claiming their Sure Start maternity grant and allowance and should therefore be encouraged.

Young people not in foster care will receive allowances for their 17th and 18th birthdays and for Christmas. Young people who are non-Christians will be given a choice as to when their festival allowance is to be provided. If they do not have a preference, the allowance should be made available at Christmas.

The Leaving Care Service will assist young people to access and fund services aimed at meeting their religious and/or cultural needs. These will be identified in the Financial Support section of the Pathway Plan. 

Former Relevant (See Definitions above) young people should like other 18 year olds derive their income from employment, training or benefits and the Brighton and Hove Children and Families Services will not therefore be their primary source of financial support. Other forms of financial assistance such as the Education Bursary the Social Fund (DWP) and Charitable Trusts, (such as the Buttle Trust), should be maximised to the full.

Where at 18 years of age young people register a claim for benefits and there is a delay in payment, emergency assistance will be given for a maximum prescribed period, usually up to 3 weeks.

Young people will be given targeted financial assistance particularly with education, training and employment dependent upon an assessment of their circumstances and need. Examples of support could include equipment or clothing for a training course, clothing for an interview, a weekly living allowance when engaged in full time further education and benefits cannot be accessed. 

A comprehensive financial support package is available to enable young people to successfully complete Higher Education courses. (See Financial Support to 18-24 year olds)

Young people are entitled to a Setting Up Allowance sufficient to equip them with all the basic items they will need in setting up home. There is no prescribed list of items, rather it is left to the young person in conjunction with their personal adviser and/or carer to decide what they need.  This allowance will also fund expenses that will further prepare and equip young people for adulthood. Young people can access this allowance from the time they move into independent or semi-independent accommodation up to the age of 21 years. The use of Setting Up Allowances for care leavers with disabilities who may not be able or ready to live independently or semi-independently will be used flexibly and appropriately on a case-by-case basis. In addition separate payment is made for any necessary documents (e.g. passport, driving licence), removal and storage expenses and TV licence and home contents insurance policy for the first year in the young person’s own tenancy. Where young people are entitled to claim welfare benefits, they should be encouraged to apply for a Community Care grant that will maximise their ability to set up home.

See the following:


15. Leaving Care Personal Adviser

Policy

The Leaving Care Personal Adviser will be the member of the Support Through Care Team who has Looked After case responsibility for Eligible young people aged 16 and 17 and case responsibility for Relevant and Former Relevant young people age 16 to 21 (or 24).

When a young person ceases to be Looked After before they reach 18 years or when they reach legal adulthood at the age of 18, the local authority will no longer be required to provide them with a Social Worker to plan and co-ordinate their care. It must however appoint a Personal Adviser who will be responsible for co-ordinating the services provided to support individual care leavers and act as the focal point to ensure that they are provided with the right level of personal support. There is no prescribed qualification determining which professional should carry out the Personal Adviser function for any individual care leaver.

Guidance and Practice

The Leaving Care Personal Adviser has the key role in being a focus for support, in arranging services and in co-ordinating work with other agencies, i.e. the care management role. The extent to which the Leaving Care Personal Adviser becomes the main source of advice and support for the young person will vary according to individual circumstances.

The Leaving Care Personal Adviser acts as the young person’s principal source of contact in any matter relating to the local authority’s duties under the Children Act 1989, the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000, the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010 and related Regulations and Guidance and is also accountable for the effective implementation of the Pathway Plan. The Leaving Care 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 Leaving Care Personal Adviser will take responsibility for initiating the review of the Pathway Plan and for recording its outcomes.

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 s.he will move to greater independence or when s/he ceases to be looked after.

Procedure

When allocating a Leaving Care Personal Adviser to an individual young person consideration will be given to the wishes of the young person and issues of gender, sexuality, race, religion, culture, language and disability.

The foundation of the work of the Leaving Care Personal Adviser will be the establishment of a positive relationship with the young person. It is acknowledged that this relationship will develop over time and will be a healthy and productive one for the benefit of the young person.

All young people will retain their allocated Personal Adviser at least up to their 21st Birthday.


16. Keeping in Touch

Policy

Brighton and Hove Children and Families Services will remain in contact with young people at a level that meets their needs.

Practice and Guidance

The responsible authority is required to keep in touch with Eligible, Relevant and Former Relevant young people up to the age of 21 (or beyond if the young person is on an approved programme of education or training). This will normally be the role for the Leaving Care Personal Adviser to undertake. If contact with the young person is lost, reasonable steps should be taken to re-establish contact where at all possible.

It is vital that the Leaving Care Service is flexible, adaptive and responsive in order that young people value contact and do not disengage from the Service. When this can be achieved any problems that occur for a young person are more likely to be resolved at an early stage.

The level of contact required by each young person will vary according to his or her needs and circumstances and will change over time.

Procedure

The Leaving Care Service aims to remain in contact with all Former Relevant young people up to the age of 21 (or 24 if still engaged in an agreed programme of education or training). This contact should be at a level that meets the individual needs of that young person and will always be met by having an named allocated Leaving Care Personal Adviser.  The Service should aim for the Pathway Plan for Former Relevant young people to be reviewed every 6 months or where there is a significant change in the life style of the young person, whichever is the more appropriate. 

Where a young person wishes to withdraw from the offer of a service they will be provided with information about other support services available in the community. They will be reassured that temporarily withdrawing from the service will not mean withdrawal of personal support, advice or assistance. 

Unless a young person formally requests that they no longer wish to be engaged with the Leaving Care Service they will be contacted discretely by their Leaving Care Personal Adviser at 4 monthly intervals at a minimum by either letter, e-mail, phone or text. They will be encouraged to re-contact by the same methods should they require any advice or assistance. 

Young people will generally have their cases closed when they reach 21 years. However this will always be based on need and in some cases ongoing work will continue beyond this time.

See Section 17, below, ‘Support for Care leavers aged 18 and over’


17. Support for Care Leavers Aged 18 and Over

Policy

Brighton and Hove Children and Families Services will aim to support Former Relevant young people at a level that meets their changing needs through out the transition to inter-dependence.

See also Staying Put Policy and Practice Guidance.

Practice and Guidance

Under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 local authorities have a number of additional duties in relation to young people aged 18 to 21 who have been either Eligible or Relevant or both.  These duties continue beyond the age of 21 if the young person is on an approved programme of education or training as agreed and set out in the Pathway Plan.

At this point young people become defined as Former Relevant Children and the types of support and assistance they need at the time may change. This change is reflected in the fact that Brighton and Hove Children and Families Services  no longer has the primary income maintenance role. This phase of the young person’s transition may be extremely stressful and the young person may require significant support, particularly with making benefit claims. The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 highlights the importance of continued support and assistance and places an emphasis upon young people moving to independence when they are ready. A consequence of this is that young people may remain in a supported placement provided by Brighton and Hove Children and Families Services beyond their 18th birthday. While the 18th birthday is a significant milestone it may mean that there is no major change in that young person’s need for support and accommodation.

In supporting Former Relevant Children the duties of the local authority include:

  • Keeping in touch with the young person;
  • Providing each young person with a personal adviser;
  • Regularly reviewing and revising the Pathway Plan;
  • Providing general assistance;
  • Providing assistance with expenses associated with employment;
  • Providing assistance with the expenses associated with education and training;
  • Providing vacation accommodation (or the funds to secure it) to care leavers in higher education or on a residential further education course which requires them to live away from home as agreed in the Pathway Plan.

Procedure

Personal support from the Leaving Care Personal Adviser will change over time as the young person becomes more mature and inter-dependent. This will in turn reflect the level of service provision to that young person.

All Former Relevant young people will retain their allocated Leaving Care Personal Adviser until their 21st birthday. 

In many cases foster placements are converted to supported lodgings placements and extended beyond the young person’s 18th birthday. This continued support either provides continuity and stability while the young person is completing their further education or where the young person has a mild to moderate learning disability and is in transition to Adult Services or when there is a short wait for the young person’s own tenancy and the only alternative would be Housing Department temporary accommodation. 

The Joint Protocol with Housing Department aims to ensure that the corporate responsibility for meeting the diverse accommodation needs of care leavers are met. 

When they move into their own accommodation, young people can also access support via the Leaving Care contract with Sussex Central YMCA Tenancy Support Service, part of the Youth Advice Centre. Additional support is available from Housing Support Workers in the Housing Department funded by Supporting People.


18. Support for "Qualifying" Young People

Policy

Brighton and Hove Children and Families Services will assess the needs of Qualifying young people and will aim to provide a service both commensurate with the needs of these young people and meeting the local authority’s duties under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000.

Practice and Guidance

Entitlements of young people qualifying for advice and assistance under section 24 of the Children Act 1989 are continued in the new sections 24, 24A and 24B of the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000:

  • Advise and befriend. If the young person has been Looked After by a local authority or accommodated by or on behalf of a voluntary organisation, the relevant authority has a duty to advise and befriend the young person if needed;
  • General assistance. The relevant authority may give general assistance in kind or cash to all persons for whom the authority has either a duty or a power to advise and befriend;
  • Assistance with employment. For persons formerly Looked After by a local authority the relevant authority may contribute to expenses to live near employment and may do so until the age of 24;
  • Assistance with education and training. For persons formerly Looked After by a local authority the relevant authority may contribute to expenses to live near education or training or make a grant for education and training expenses and may do so until the age of 24;
  • Representation Procedure. All persons qualifying for advice and assistance are entitled to access to the representation procedure.

Young people who leave care before they attain 16 years of age are not covered by the provisions of the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000.

Procedure

Under the terms of the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000, young people termed Qualifying do not require a named Leaving Care Personal Adviser or pathway plan. However these young people will be provided with a service that reflects their support requirements that will be determined by an assessment undertaken by the Leaving Care Service.


19. Care Leavers with Additional and Specific Needs

Policy

Where young people have specific needs that are additional to their needs as a care leaver the Leaving Care Service will ensure that the appropriate services are identified and accessed.

Learning and Physical Disabilities

It is recognised that young people with a learning and/or physical disability may have particular needs over and above the needs of other young people who are being cared for. Brighton and Hove Children and Families Services will take into account any transition plan drawn up under the Special Education Needs Code of Practice and will ensure that Adult Services are included in the pathway planning process.

Mental Health

Young people with mental health needs may also have needs other than those associated with leaving care and through the pathway planning process specialist services will be identified and access sought.

A newly commissioned Child and Adolescent Health Service (CAMHS) for Young People up to 18 year that will include 'Bridging the Gap' providing Teen to Adult Personal Advisors (TAPA's) for 14-25 year olds will be operational in September 2009.

Procedure

The Leaving Care Service  and the Nurse Consultant for Looked After Children will work in partnership with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (for those young people who remain in further education) or the Community Mental Health Teams (for other young people), Brighton and Hove MIND and the Under 19’ Substance Misuse Service (RUOK?) to facilitate this access.

Criminal Justice System

Where a young person who is or has been Looked After is subject to orders of the court for offending behaviour that young person will continue to qualify for leaving care services. For that young person formal links will be made with the Youth Offending Service or the probation provider, as appropriate, to ensure that his or her after care needs continue to be addressed. 

Procedure 

It is vital that the Leaving Care Personal Adviser works in partnership with the Brighton and Hove Youth Offending Team social worker.

Similar working arrangements will also apply to the partnership between the Leaving Care Service and the Sussex probation provider. The primary case responsibility for each young person will be determined by the nature and seriousness of the offence or offences.

Child Protection & Safeguarding

Where there are issues of child protection & safeguarding in regard to young people themselves or if they are a parent to their child/children, or to other children with whom they have contact, then the “Sussex Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures” will be consulted and initiated.

Procedure

Where there are issues of a child protection nature in regard to young people themselves or their children, “Sussex Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures” July 2006 will be followed.

Where a care leaver is a parent and their child/children is thought to be at risk the case responsibility for the welfare of the child/children rests with either one of the three Area Social Care Teams or the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital Social Work Team. Leaving Care Personal Advisers are duty bound to pass on concerns over the parenting capacity of the care leaver to the appropriate Team. In such cases the welfare of the child is paramount. The personal adviser will be a key member of any Core or Strategy Group. The responsibility for the ongoing leaving care needs of the parent remains with the Support Through Care Team.

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children are covered by the Children Act 1989 and the new provisions introduced by the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 in exactly the same way as other Children in Need in this country.

Procedure

All Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children under the age of 18 will be Looked After under Sect 20 of the Children Act unless they specifically request to be assisted under Section 17. Case responsibility for these young people rests with the specialist Young People’s Asylum Service managed within the Support Through Care Team service.


20. Inter Authority Protocol

Policy

Where a care leaver resides outside of the Brighton and Hove local authority area, the authority  will 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 Brighton and Hove boundary.

Whenever possible, plans for movement of care leavers outside the Brighton and Hove local authority boundary must be discussed with the host authority and both parties should agree the level of service prior to the move taking place.

Procedure

All care leavers should be advised on how to access care leavers’ services if they move outside of the Brighton and Hove local authority boundaries (who remains their responsible authority) and subsequently need assistance. The advice provided should be in written form.

Where a young person presents to Brighton and Hove Children and Families Services as a care leaver from another authority, the assessment of that young person’s needs will be made by the Support Through Care Team and any emergency financial assistance will be provided through Section 17 of the Children Act 1989.

The Leaving Care Personal Adviser will notify the host authority in writing of any eligible young person who is residing in that area.


21. Training and Development of Staff and Carers

Policy

That staff and carers within Brighton and Hove Children and Families Services and its partner agencies have the appropriate skills in order to deliver and develop leaving care services.

Guidance and Practice

The training strategy for the Support Through Care Team is an integral part of the Learning and Development Teams overall training strategy for ensuring the delivery of high quality children’s services. The Support Through Care Team will play a key role in this training in promoting an understanding of the needs of care leavers both within Children and Families Services, the local authority and partner agencies. The Support Through Care Team will develop strategies that enable care leavers to contribute to awareness raising and training.

Procedure

The Support Through Care Team will ensure that its staff are equipped with the necessary skills to be sure they can be effective in their role with young people. It will also provide training to carers and will raise leaving care awareness within Children and Families Services, the local authority and partner agencies and providers.

End