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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)

Care Leavers Charter

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

RELATED CHAPTER

Staying Put Procedure

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in July 2018 to add clarification in relation to Qualifying Young People. See Definitions.


Contents

  Definitions
1. Leaving Care Assessment of Need
2. Pathway Planning
3. Reviews of Pathway Plans
4. Personal Advisers
5. Education, Training and Employment
6. Young People Resuming Education or Training
7. Qualifying Young People
8. Where Care Leavers Live or Move to a Different Local Authority Area
9. Staying Put
10. Access to Records, Life Story Work and Ending the Service
  Appendix 1: Needs Assessment and Content of Pathway Plans for Relevant and Former Relevant Children


Definitions

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

1.

Eligible Young People

They are aged 16 or 17, have been Looked After for a period or periods totalling at least 13 weeks starting after their 14th birthday and are still 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 now covered by Regulations 42, 43 and 44 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010.
2.

Relevant Young People

They are aged 16 or 17 and are no longer Looked After, having previously been in the category of Eligible Young Person when in care (that is, they have been Looked After for a period, or periods, totalling at least 13 weeks starting after their 14th birthday and up to their 16th birthday). 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". (See Section 7, Qualifying Young People).

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.

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 now covered by Regulations 4 to 9 of the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010.

3.

Former Relevant Young People

They are aged 18 to 21 (or up to 24 if in full-time further or higher education), 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.

The statutory definition and requirements to stay in touch with the young person, keep the Pathway Plan under review, continue the appointment of a Personal Adviser and provide financial assistance near where the young person is employed or seeking employment/to enable the young person to pursue education or training remain unchanged they are now covered by Regulations 4 to 9 of the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010. These duties continue until the young person becomes 21 or, where the Pathway Plan sets out a programme of education or training beyond 21, they continue so long as the young person pursues the programme. The duty to pay a higher education bursary also continues, as before for those who started a course of higher education after 2008.

The duty of the Local Authority in regard to Education and Training is to:

  • Appoint a Personal Adviser;
  • Carry out an assessment of the needs to determine what assistance (if any) it would be appropriate to provide;
  • Prepare a Pathway Plan;
  • Give assistance to the extent that the young person's educational or training needs require it. The kinds of assistance are: contributing to expenses incurred by the young person in living near the place where s/he is, or will be, receiving education or training; or making a grant to enable the young person to meet expenses connected with his education and training;
  • For those in full-time education, aged 16-19 access to the bursary fund which came into place in 2011 see Section 5.2, The 16-19 Bursary Fund and Higher Education Bursary.

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.

4.

Qualifying Young People

They are  aged 16 and over and under the age of 21, and are:

  • Subject to a special guardianship order (or were when they reached 18) and were looked after immediately before the making of that Order;
  • At any time after 16 (but whilst still a child), were looked after, accommodated or fostered.

‘Looked after accommodated or fostered’ includes:

  • Looked After by a local authority;
  • Accommodated by or on behalf of a voluntary organisation;
  • Accommodated in a private children’s home;
  • Accommodated for a consecutive period of at least 3 months (including even before the child was 16) by a Health Authority, CCG or Local Authority (providing education), in:
    • A care home;
    • Independent hospital;
    • National Health Service trust or Foundation Trust.
  • Privately Fostered -  but do not qualify as Eligible, Relevant or Former Relevant.

Where a local authority looked after, accommodated or fostered a young person, and they are deemed as Qualifying for advice and assistance, the local authority has a duty to take reasonable steps to contact them with a view to advising and assisting them.

They may receive support, advice and assistance (including, in exceptional circumstances, cash or accommodation) wherever they are living.

 If in full-time further or higher education, this may include contributing financial assistance to living expenses relating to their education or training, or making a grant towards meeting their education/training expenses - including in relation to securing vacation accommodation up to the age of 24. (See Section 7, Qualifying Young People).

A Young Person Discharged from Being Looked After

They are over the age of 16 and under the age of 21, (or up to 24 if in full-time further or higher education), 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;
  • The child’s relatives have been consulted, where appropriate.

A young person who returns home after a period in care under Section 20 of the Children’s Act 1989 may qualify for leaving care support if they are a ‘Relevant’.

The Personal Advisor will be allocated as a Secondary worker alongside the Social Worker, and will undertake an agreed plan of work with the Young Person under the Child in Need plan.

After six months (or when the case is closed to Children and Young People Services) the Child in Need Review will determine whether a leaving care service should continue. If a relevant child has returned home to their parents, they cease to be a relevant child after being at home for 6 months. However, if this arrangement later breaks down before their 18th birthday and they return to care they return to being a eligible child.

Once the Social Work service has withdrawn then the level of support will revert to a Qualifier status.

Children returning home under a Care Order or who have a Care Order discharged by order of the Courts prior to their 18th birthday will receive the full service up to the age of 25.

5.

Personal Adviser

A Personal Adviser is the person appointed to work in relation to the Relevant child or Former Relevant child when the young person is 15 years and 9 months old.', 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.

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 eight weeks.

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 4, Personal Adviser.
6.

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 25.


1. Leaving Care Assessment of Need

All Young People - Eligible, Relevant or Former Relevant - must receive a multi-agency needs assessment 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.

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 timetable must take account of any forthcoming exams and avoid disrupting the young person's preparation for them.

The young person's Care Plan together with information from the most recent Assessment will form the basis of the Needs Assessment. The Care plan will also act as the Pathway Plan from March 2018.

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, in the case of a young person with special needs, a representative from Adult Services.

A decision not to include significant people must be recorded in the young person's file.

Young people with particular language or communication needs should be provided throughout the process with appropriate interpretation, translation or advocacy support.

Where the young person refuses to engage in the assessment process, this should be recorded, together with any actions taken to ascertain the young person's views.

All parties, including the social worker's manager, should sign the completed Needs Assessment Document. 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 and moves to a new placement, the new 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.


2. 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 the young person's Care Plan at 16 years of age, and any Next Steps Plan or Careers advice service 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.

In the case of an Eligible or Relevant Young Person, the social worker will normally retain lead responsibility for progressing all areas of the Pathway Plan, including planning for future accommodation when the young person becomes a Care Leaver. The Pathway plan will be updated as the central Care Plan at each LAC review.

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. For example, the visiting frequency of the Personal Advisor to an Eligible or Relevant 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 Health Care Plan;
  • Education, training and employment. The Next Steps Plan 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.

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.

A Summary of the young person’s financial situation should be part of the Plan, at the from the point where the young person leaves care and also as a care leaver.

Where a transfer from Children's to Adult Services will be required, the Plan should specify who has responsibility for giving notice to Adult Services and liaising with them to ensure a smooth transition. Where a Care Leaver has an Adult Services Social Worker the Personal Adviser will ensure the Pathway Plan links with and complements the existing plans set by Adult Services and also maintain communication with the Adult Services Social Worker. See Practice Standards for guidance on minimum visiting requirements for young people involved with Adult Social Care.

The Designated Manager (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 must 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. The decision to share with someone the young person has not consented to should be recorded by the Team Manager, with clear reasons as to why this decision was reached.

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.


3. Reviews of Pathway Plans

The Pathway Plan must be reviewed at least every 6 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. Pathway plans will also be the young person’s Looked After Child care plan from March 2018, and should therefore be prepared for and reviewed at each Looked After Child Review.

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 and in any case within six months of becoming a relevant young person and will be chaired by a manager.

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.

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 Team Manager 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 Relevant Young Person or Former Relevant Young Person moves to 'unregulated' accommodation (i.e. accommodation that is not regulated/inspected by OFSTED), the Local Authority must:

  1. Arrange a review 28 days (or as soon as practicable thereafter) from the time the accommodation is provided; and
  2. Determine at what intervals (not exceeding six months) subsequent reviews will be carried out;
  3. Reviews should be brought forward where there is an assessed risk that a crisis may develop in a young person's life, for example:
    • Where a young person has been charged with an offence and there is a possibility of their being sentenced to custody, which will risk losing their accommodation;
    • Where a young person is at risk of being evicted from his or her accommodation or otherwise threatened with homelessness;
    • Where professionals are concerned about the parenting capacity of a 'Relevant' or 'Former Relevant' young person with there being a possibility that their own child may need to be the subject of a multi-agency safeguarding plan;
    • Where a young person requests a review.

Matters to which the Local Authority is to have regard in determining suitability of accommodation (under Schedule 2 to the Care Leavers 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.

Note: Bed and Breakfast Accommodation is not considered as suitable accommodation other than in exceptional circumstances. On such occasions:

  • The placement should be limited to two working days unless Service Manager agreement is given;
  • The Local Authority provides appropriate supervision and contact with the young person;
  • There must be clear case recording evidence of liaison with Housing and their decisions in regard to the Young Person.

Paragraph 7.12, DfE The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers (January 2015)

Where a Relevant or Former Relevant Young Person enters custody, pathway planning must continue. Relevant young people on remand will regain their Eligible status, as they will have a new care episode. The young person must be visited on a regular basis (see Practice Standards) and it is good practice for the first visit to take place within ten working days. The role must not be fulfilled by a YOT worker. The Local Authority must liaise with the YOT or Probation Provider to support the young person emotionally, practically and financially while in custody.

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 Team Manager and the Personal Adviser. In these circumstances the Personal Adviser will attempt to negotiate a revised plan that is acceptable to all parties.

The Personal Advisor will be responsible for keeping an up to date record of their involvement with each care leaver and therefore of the responsible authority's involvement with the young person. A note should be made on each visit and on other contacts with the young person. Contact with other agencies must also be recorded. The case record can be used to establish that the plan continues to set out an effective means of supporting the young person. See Practice Standards.

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. Pathway planning will continue based on known information unless there is management agreement to suspend this process.

Where a Personal Adviser loses touch with a young person, relevant agencies must be notified which may include another local authority, and all immediate practicable steps must be taken to re-establish contact. For example, contacting Revenues and Benefits, and the Registry office. The Team Manager will record the progress made on efforts to regain contact in supervision, and ensure that all reasonably practical steps have been taken.

Young people who have given explicit written instructions not to be contacted will have a response in writing from the Team Manager acknowledging this and stating clearly that their case will be kept open should they change their mind, or they reach age 25.

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.


4. 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.

The Personal Adviser will ensure the co-ordination of other agencies and individuals identified in the Pathway Plan and ‘act as a focal point’ to make sure the young person has access to the appropriate services, including those provisions to enable them to develop some financial management capability.

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 (see Practice Standards). 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.

The Personal Advisor is seen as a ‘function’ rather than a specific person and the local authority should consider delegating it wholly or partially to the best person able to carry out the role out. (See Part 3, Regulation 8 of the Care Leavers (England) Regulations).

The Personal advisor should be someone who is best able engage with the young person and motivate them to take up, and best make use of, the services that are available and provided.

It would be good practice were possible and appropriate for the Personal Advisor to maintain the same person from 16 yrs from when they were an Eligible or Relevant child. However, this will not always be possible, Although the Personal Adviser should have the necessary skills and experience to carry out the function, the transfer of the role should be undertaken in a planned and managed way.

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.

The responsible authority will always need to give careful consideration to any preferences expressed by the young person about who might fulfil their Personal Advisor function. However, in the final analysis, the local authority must be satisfied in every case that the person acting as a young person's Personal Advisor has the requisite skills and the necessary availability. For example, local authorities should ensure that a Personal Advisor is familiar with a young person's way of communicating if they are disabled, e.g. use Makaton or other augmentative communication methods, or has access to appropriate training, interpretation or facilitation. The final decision as to who will be suitable to act as a Personal Advisor for an individual care leaver rests with the responsible authority.

In assessing whether or not an individual possesses the right knowledge and skills to be effective as a Personal Advisor for a care leaver, the local authority will need to establish that they are able to work within the legal and leaving care policy framework and that they demonstrate the necessary personal qualities, so that, they are capable of becoming an effective professional with the ability to advocate for the young person so they are supported to reach their potential.

Young people who are in care but are allocated within the Child Health and Disability Team will be allocated a Personal Advisor, who will liaise with the Allocated Social Worker from that team. The same applies to young people in the Separated Children Seeking Asylum Team.

Anyone appointed to carry out the Personal Advisor function should possess a sound demonstrable understanding of human growth and development (in particular being competent in understanding the insecurities faced by looked after children as they make their transition to adulthood). They will also need to have a working knowledge of the range of issues that care leavers might expect to face as they make their transition to adulthood and the legal framework affecting care leavers.

They should also be capable of understanding and acting upon relevant legislation concerned with housing and homelessness. In recruiting Personal Advisors, it will be ideal if the range of advisers is sufficiently wide to provide young people with a choice, bearing in mind considerations of gender and ethnicity.

The key roles of the Personal Adviser for Care Leavers are:

To provide advice;

  1. To advise on and monitor progress of the young person’s Pathway Plan.
  2. To take a lead role in the preparation of the Pathway Plan;
  3. To participate and lead on reviews of the Pathway Plan;
  4. To liaise with other agencies (with the Young Person’s permission), including other local authorities in the implementation of the Pathway Plan and to advocate for the young person;
  5. To coordinate the provision of services under the Pathway Plan and take steps to ensure the young person makes use of such services;
  6. To keep themselves informed about the young person’s progress and well-being;
  7. To keep written records of contact with the young person monitoring the effectiveness of services in assisting the young person to be assisted in developing their own life skills.

Personal Advisers will maintain contact with the young person on a regular basis up to the age of 25. This is currently set at a minimum requirement of an offer to meet every eight weeks (see Practice Standards). It is recognised that some young people require a much higher level of support, and may be seen weekly, or even 2/3 times a week, and the impact of this will be taken into account by the Team Manager in monitoring workloads and staff capacity.

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

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

The Personal Advisor will also participate in the assessment, preparation and review of the pathway plan. The Personal Advisor should take a negotiating role on behalf of the young person, essentially to act as an advocate or representative of young person in their dealings with outside agencies, should the young person give permission for the Personal Advisor to do this.

The Personal Advisor will be the key professional responsible for co-ordinating each care leaver's support. The Personal Advisor will need to be able to establish a rapport with care leavers and take their views into account when taking forward plans for their support.

If the young person does not engage with the Personal Advisor, there will be a need to consider offering the young person another Personal Advisor. If the Local Authority is hindered in any way in completing the pathway plan by lack of engagement from the young person, efforts should be clearly recorded and fully detailed on case records.


5. Education, Training and Employment

5.1 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. Career planning tools should be used to inform Pathway Plans.

The local authority should make every effort not to disrupt a young person’s education during their key stage 4 years, both in terms of their school and care placement unless the circumstances clearly require this. (See also Education of Looked After Children Procedure, Avoidance of Disruption in Education).

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.

5.2 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.


6. Young People Resuming Education or Training

Former Relevant young people resuming programmes of education or training are entitled to continuing support from a Personal Adviser. Where young people are continuing with an education or training course after a ‘break’, 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.

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 previous Pathway Plans. 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. 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 education and training 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 specific 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.

All requests for financial support with Education and training will be given due consideration by the Local Authority. All Former Relevant Young people are entitled to a Bursary for Higher Education, which is currently set ay £3,000 per academic year (paid termly).


7. Qualifying Young People and Special Guardianship

Services for Qualifying Young People will be determined by an assessment of need carried out by the Leaving Care Team. Qualifying Young People have the following entitlements from the Local Authority up until the age of 25:

  • Advice, befriending and offer of assistance;
  • Help with Education and Training Costs;
  • Vacation Accommodation.

These Young people will not be allocated a Personal Advisor unless they are specifically identified as needing a service. Where a Qualifying Young Person over 18 presents for a service, the Leaving Care team will assess their needs and advise the Team Manager on whether a Personal Advisor should be allocated. This will usually be for a specific period, and will be reviewed in supervision.

Managers should review the level of contact with the Qualifying cohort on a yearly basis and allocate follow up attempts to contact and remind young people of their entitlement to a service. It is the duty of the Local Authority to ensure to its best ability that they are kept in touch with and aware of their rights and entitlements.

Young people under 18 who return to being in care will be allocated a Social Worker, and a Personal Advisor once they attain Eligible status.

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.

Local authorities should also set out what assistance can be provided to young people who are ‘Qualifying’ as a result of being looked after immediately prior to becoming subject to a Special Guardianship Order or subject to a private fostering arrangement. Local authorities will need to be clear about which local authority is responsible for the provision of services to qualifying young people.

Where a Qualifying Young Person accesses education, or training, financial assistance, this will be possible to the age of 25. This will ensure that he or she is able to take advantage of the opportunities being offered.

The young person's Personal Advisor 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 Advisor by making a written request to the Designated Manager (Leaving Care).

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

The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers (2010) covers eligibility for leaving care services for children subject to a special guardianship order as follows:

Children who were Looked After by a local authority immediately before the making of a Special Guardianship Order may qualify for advice and assistance under the 1989 Act. Section 24 (1A) of the 1989 Act provides that the child must:

  • Have reached the age of 16, but not the age of 21;
  • If less than 18 years old, have a special guardianship order in force;
  • If 18 years old or above, have had a Special Guardianship Order in force when they reached that age; and
  • Have been Looked After by a local authority immediately before the making of the Special Guardianship Order;
  • The leaving care status is ‘Qualifyer’.
The relevant local authority should make arrangements for young people who meet these criteria to receive advice and assistance under the 1989 Act. Regulation 22 of the Special Guardianship Regulations 2005 provides that the relevant local authority is the one that last Looked After the child (paras 2.12 and 2.13).


8. 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 attempt 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. There is a duty to Keep in touch with young people who live in different local authority areas (see Practice Standards) and maintain the young person’s Pathway planning.

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 local 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 Teams should, wherever possible, be arranged.


9. 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.

Staying Put agreement will be via Best Care Panel prior to the young person’s 18th birthday. It is the responsibility of the Social Worker to ensure that the young person’s case is presented in a timely manner to make sufficient contractual arrangements.

For further information see the Staying Put Procedure.


10. Access to Records, Life Story Work and Ending the Service

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.

The Local Authority will waive any applicable fees for care leavers wishing to access their records. Young people will be supported by their Personal Advisor (or an appointee from the team in the case of young people whose case is closed).

The Local Authority should promote the use of life story work for Care leavers, and allocate a worker who is able to undertake this if requested by the young person.

The leaving care service will normally cease when young people become 25 years of age.

At the last Review of the Pathway Plan before the service ends the Personal Adviser should consider and identify any need for ongoing support and seek to make any necessary arrangements to enable this, for example by arranging for services from an Adult Services Team or a voluntary organisation. 

The Personal Adviser will review the plans and achievements made since the Pathway Plan Assessment with the young person and seek to action any outstanding plans that are achievable.

Where there are urgent outstanding tasks that require the case to remain open for a further period, the Personal Adviser will consult with the Team Manager.

The Personal Adviser will seek the young person’s views on their experience of the service they have received and pass these to the Team Manager, who will ensure that this information is passed to a Senior or Strategic Manager for service development purposes.

The Personal Advisor will write a final letter to the Young Person and ensure that they are aware that they can return at any time for further advice and signposting.


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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