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BexleyChildren's Services Procedures Manual

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 18th birthday.

The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations and Guidance 2010 and the Planning Transition to Adulthood Guidance which includes the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010 defines different groups of young people (care leavers) who will receive support from Children’s Services.

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.

NOTE

In Bexley when a young person reaches 17 years and six months their future case worker (Personal Advisor) will be appointed to work alongside their social worker. At times this may be at an earlier point dependent on circumstances. We ensure our young people are supported fully in their transition between teams at eighteen and in towards their aspirations in adulthood.

RELATED GUIDANCE

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

Care Leavers Charter (DfE)

Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015)

The Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010

For the following booklets:

  • Congratulations on your New Home Booklet;
  • Welcome to the leaving Care Team Booklet.

Please see: N:\Directorate of Social & Community Services\Children & Families\Strategies Policies & Procedures\Leaving Care and Transitions

RELATED CHAPTER

Staying Put Procedure

AMENDMENT

This chapter was comprehensively amended by Bexley in April 2017.

The Government has published key reports outlining their vision and strategy for improving Social Care Services and in bettering the outcomes for care leavers. The Governments leaving Care strategy ‘Keep on Caring - Supporting Young people from care to Independence’ has been published together with ‘Putting Children First’ (July 2016) the government’s vision for the delivery of excellent children’s social care.

These strategies have set a five year plan which recognises that the need for nurturing, consistent relationships does not stop at the age of 18. This has reflected the outcomes from the Governments New Belongings initiative and the principles of good corporate parenting in line with the government’s Access All areas initiative (April 2012) and the values and principles of the Care Leavers Charter (October 2012).

Bexley’s Leaving Care Policy has been built on these Aspirations and our Care Leavers have helped advise and develop our procedures.

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Key Objectives
  3. The Legal Context
  4. Pathway Plan
  5. Reviews of Pathway Plan
  6. Role of the Personal Adviser
  7. Education, Training and Employment
  8. Young People Resuming Education or Training After 21
  9. Where Care Leavers Live or Move to a Different Local Authority Area
  10. Staying Put
  11. Access to Records
  12. Appendix 1: Needs Assessment and Content of Pathway Plans for Relevant and Former Relevant Children

1. Introduction

Research undertaken since the implementation of the Children Act 1989 and summarized in the Department of Health documentation ‘Me, Survive, Out There’ (1999) illustrated that young people who had been looked after by local authorities were one of the most disadvantaged groups in society. They experienced disrupted family lives, low achievement, poor outcomes, and often had a poor quality of life after leaving public care. The 'Quality Protects' initiative (1998) aimed to improve the standard of social care services and resources offered to young people looked after and those leaving care, to ensure they met their potential.

The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 was enacted in October 2001 and amended the Children Act 1989 to implement the proposals outlined in ‘Me, Survive, Out There?’ It significantly increased the powers and duties that local authorities had towards care leavers to ensure they were properly supported through their transition into adulthood. The ‘Every Child Matters’ framework (2004) built on this, and had, as two of its five priority outcomes for young people, ‘to make a positive contribution’ and ‘achieve economic wellbeing’, both essential elements of a successful transition from public care to independent living.

The report Access all Areas (2012), produced jointly by the Catch 22 National Care Advisory Service, The Care Leavers’ Foundation, A National Voice and The Prince’s Trust, called for each central government department to scrutinize their individual policies and to begin to look at ways of working together across departments for a more coherent overall approach.

In September 2012, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for looked after children and care leavers, chaired by Edward Timpson (Children’s Minister) published its report on the education of looked after children and care leavers. The report made reference to Access all Areas and made a significant number of recommendations aimed at progressing this area of work.

The London Borough of Bexley’s newly formed Looked After and Permanence Team has therefore responded to legislation, research findings, and more recently the ‘Access all Area’s’ initiative and the Governments ‘Care Leavers Charter’ to develop a range of services and a revised financial framework aimed at better supporting and enhancing the life opportunities for our young people leaving care.

Our Care leavers should expect the same level of care and support that other young people get from their parents. Our strategy is based on the principles of good corporate parenting by removing some of the practical barriers that care leavers face as they progress into adulthood.

The procedures provide an introduction to the services that our Care Leavers will receive from Bexley. The process of Leaving Care can be a challenging and confusing time and our role is to reduce these anxieties to ensure our care leavers realise their potential to succeed. These procedures describe the support that that we will provide to promote and ensure our care leavers make a successful transition to independence.

2. Key Objectives

  • Young people are encouraged to remain in foster care for as long as possible, and moves to semi-independence or full independence are delayed until our young person is practically and emotionally equipped to make this transition;
  • To promote and maintain relationships with carers, families and social networks after young people leave care;
  • To prepare young people to be ready to leave care, paying attention to practical self-care needs, health, budgeting, domestic skills and personal and relationships;
  • To maximize the education, training and employment opportunities for our young people;
  • To ensure that our young people leaving care have access to a range of accommodation which is more appropriate to their individual needs, and they are supported in gaining the resilience and skills to maintain their housing;
  • To ensure that there is a contingency provision to support care leavers in the event of a crisis;
  • To provide and enable ongoing personal support. This will include the support of a specialist leaving care social worker or personal advisor, support from Bexley Council’s training and career services and the support from a specialist NEET Personal Advisor;
  • Where young people leaving care are entitled to claim welfare benefits, support will be provided to ensure that they receive their full entitlements;
  • We will involve our young people in all assessments, pathway planning, review and decision making arrangements for Leaving Care;
  • We will inform our young people leaving care of their rights and available services;
  • We will continue to monitor and evaluate the outcomes of the above.

The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 and amended by the Planning Transitions for Care Leavers Guidance 2010 was established to improve the life chances of young people as they leave public care. The Act seeks to do this by:

  • Delaying discharge until a young person is prepared and ready to leave care;
  • Improve the assessment and planning and preparation for leaving care;
  • Provide good personal support to young people leaving care;
  • Improve the financial arrangements for young people leaving care.

The Act also makes it clear that the responsibilities for the local authority to act as a corporate parent and it defines for the eligibly to services.

Our Care Leavers entitlement to services depends on the category of their support which is outlined below.

Eligible children - Aged 16-17, who have been looked after for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14, and who are still looked after on or after their 16th birthday.

Eligible children have all the provisions of the Looked after system and their support needs assessed through Pathway Planning.

Relevant children - Children aged 16 or 17 who were Eligible children and who are no longer looked after.

Relevant Children are supported through completion of their Pathway plan reviewed 6 monthly or sooner.

Qualifying children - Young people aged under 21 (under 24 if in full-time education or training) who ceased to be looked after or accommodated in a variety of other settings, or ceased to be privately fostered, after the age of 16, or who for a consecutive period of 3 months was at any time cared for by the NHS or LEA and left after the age of 16.

There is a duty to Keep in touch with our Qualifying young people and to offer advice and assistance with education, training and employment if needed.

Legislation states that Accommodation if required should be provided for Higher or full time Education if required.

Pathway planning is not required unless support moves from Qualifying to Relevant or Former Relevant.

For financial support please see Financial Support for Young People Leaving Care Procedure.

Former Relevant Children - Young people aged 18-21 or 25 if in education (this will be revised in future amendments) and who were Eligible and/or Relevant. If at the age of 21 the young person is still being helped by the local authority with full-time education or training, he or she remains a former relevant child to the end of the agreed programme or the age of 25 whichever is the soonest.

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 duties of Local Authorities are extended in relation to Former Relevant Young People who inform the Local Authority of their wish to take up a programme of full time further or higher education after the age of 21 and under the age of 25. In relation to these young people, the Local authority has a duty 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 The 16-19 Bursary Fund and Higher Education Bursary (GOV.UK).

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.

Note of special circumstances

When Relevant young people have been living for six months with someone who has either parental responsibility or a Residence Order for them, they cease to be Relevant. They will no longer require a Pathway Plan or be eligible for assistance under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000. They will still be entitled to general assistance under Sect 24 of the Children Act 1989.

Should such a placement subsequently break down, the young person is once again to be treated as Eligible or Former relevant dependent on age. This would then reopen their support and allocation of their previous Social Worker or Personal Adviser.

Whilst Relevant Young People are living with someone who has parental responsibility or a Residence Order for them, they may not need financial assistance for their accommodation or maintenance. A Pathway Plan review should be held to determine what, if any, financial assistance is required.

Relevant Children also includes those young people who on their 16th birthday are detained in a Remand Centre, a Young Offender Institution, Secure Training Centre or other court ordered institution, are in hospital, or if before being detained or admitted to hospital, they had been accommodated for at least 13 weeks after the age of 14.

Young people who are detained or admitted to hospital after their 16th birthday are Relevant Children provided the other support criteria’s are met. This does not apply to young people who are subject to a Care Order.

The 13 week period does not have to be continuous, it can be a cumulative total, but it does not include periods in an agreed series of short term breaks (see below for the definition of an agreed short term break).

Young people who are subject of a Care Order and who are living with a parent or other person with parental responsibility, or living independently, are not Relevant Children. They continue to be Eligible young people. They may become Relevant following the discharge of the Care Order, if the other criteria have been met.

The Act does not apply to young people who have been accommodated under an agreed series of short-term breaks. These are usually children with a disability who have been accommodated for respite. To qualify as a short-term break the child must have been accommodated in a series of pre-planned episodes in the same placement, for less than a total of 120 days per annum. No individual episode to be longer than 28 days and the child must return to the care of a parent or other person with parental responsibility.

Young people whose placement does not meet these criteria are considered to be Looked After and the Act will then apply if the other criteria’s are met.

Young people who have been privately fostered or accommodated by a voluntary organisation can become Qualifying if they leave after reaching the age of 16, and if it appears that the Private Foster Carer or voluntary organisation does not have the capacity to offer the young person on-going support. Social Workers who supervise Private Fostering placements should be aware that young people may be entitled to a service under the Act. The Social Worker should reach a view whether or not the Private Foster Carer has the capacity to continue to advise and befriend the young person and this view should be recorded. In the event that the carer has the capacity, no further action needs to be taken, other than arrangements to keep in touch with the young person. In the event of the carer not being considered to have the capacity, support will be revised to ensure that young person remains safe And on track to achieve.

Young people can also become Qualifying if they were cared for in a health authority establishment, or residential school provided by the Local Authority for a consecutive period of three months. Any overnight stay away from the establishment with a person with parental responsibility will “stop the clock” and the three months period will start again on their return.

In order to be Qualifying the young person has to be discharged from the establishment or school after reaching 16, although the three consecutive months can have been at any time during their stay.

The local authority does not need to provide assistance to Qualifying Children who were not looked after, provided the authority is satisfied that the people who did care for them have the necessary facilities to advise and befriend them.

Such young people do not need to be provided with vacation accommodation under the Act, although they may be entitled to general assistance under Section 24 of the Children Act 1989.

Should the previous carers not be able to assist and the young person would otherwise qualify for vacation accommodation, then there is a duty on the local authority to provide it.

A Qualifying young person who was educated in residential school as a result of Special Educational Needs, (or who had been a long stay patient), who is undertaking a course of higher education, or residential further education, might have to be provided with vacation accommodation. It is unlikely that health services will be able to provide vacation accommodation.

Personal Adviser

A Personal Adviser is appointed at the age of 17.5 or younger if required to progress and develop a care leavers pathway plan. This ensures their support is effective in helping them achieve and in supporting their transition to adulthood.

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.

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

See Section 6, The Role of the Personal Adviser.

4. Pathway Plan

The Pathway Plan sets out the ambitions and route to the future for young people leaving care and will state how their needs will be met in their path to independence. The plan will continue to be implemented and reviewed after they leave care at least until they are 21; and up to 24 if in education.

Leaving Care Assessment of Need

All Young People - Eligible, Relevant or Former Relevant - must receive a multi-agency assessment of their needs as to the advice, assistance and support they will need when leaving care.

The young person's social worker will be responsible for coordinating the Needs Assessment.

This assessment should be completed no more than 3 months after the young person's 16th birthday or 3 months after their support being subject to a Looked After Plan post the age of 16. 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 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 if appointed;
  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 Record. The young person should be provided with a copy in a format that is accessible to him or her within 2 weeks. The social worker is responsible for ensuring that the outcome of the assessment is explained to the young person.

The Needs Assessment will inform the development of a Pathway Plan which will be based on and include the young person's Care Plan.

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

When carrying out an assessment of needs, the local authority must determine whether it would be appropriate to provide advice, assistance and support to facilitate a Staying Put arrangement. Where they determine that it would be appropriate, and where the child and the local authority foster parent wish to continue post the age of 18 years of age then we would provide such advice, assistance and support to facilitate a Staying Put arrangement. For further information please see Staying Put Procedure.

For further information see Appendix 1: Needs Assessment and Content of Pathway Plans for Relevant and Former Relevant Children.

The Pathway Plan

The Children Act 1989, Guidance and Regulations, Vol 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers and Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 places duties on Local Authorities for Eligible (16-18 and subject to CLA) and Relevant (16-18 but who are no longer subject to a CLA plan) and Former Relevant children (18-25).

Each young person who qualifies for services under the Leaving Act 2000 will have a Pathway Plan. The Pathway Plan is a Care Plan, detailing the services and support needed by young people aged 16 to 25 years. Department of Health Guidance on the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 denotes that;

“The Pathway Plan should be pivotal to the process whereby young people map out their future, articulating their aspirations and identifying interim goals along the way to realising their ambitions. It will also play a critical part in making the new arrangements contained within the Act work”.

“The Authority should work to ensure that the plan is owned by the young person and is able to respond to their changing needs and ambitions. It should look ahead at least as far as the young person’s 21st birthday and will be in place beyond that where the young person is in a programme of education or training which takes them past that age”.

The initial Pathway plan should be completed within three months of a child’s sixteenth birthday (or within three months of being subject to a Child Looked After (CLA) plan) and reviewed thereafter every six months or sooner if there is a significant change. For children subject to a CLA plan this is completed through the LAC review process, the IRO completing CLA Pathway review outcomes which allow SW to then update the CLA (Pathway) plan. For case work post 18 this is still reliant on a process where case worker has to assume both the role of SW and Chair.

The Pathway Plan is pivotal to enabling young people to map out their future, to encourage aspirations and to support them in reaching their ambitions. It should be regarded as a legal contract between our young person and the Local Authority. The young person is central to drawing up the plan and determining how we will help support them. The social worker or Personal Adviser, should try to give ownership of the plan to the young person. The plan should be farsighted enough to look ahead to at least the young person’s 21st birthday, or the completion of his or her education and training, yet it should be sufficiently flexible to respond to the young person’s changing needs and ambitions. The Pathway Plan should acknowledge that the young person may face challenges in their first attempt at living independently. A workable contingency plan in case of any problems should be developed.

The contingency plan will need to consider in the event of an accommodation breakdown, what other support may need to be offered. The plan should not underestimate the amount of support the young person will require. Appropriate levels of support in the early stages of independence may prevent greater difficulties later.

The leaving Care Team cannot meet all young people’s independence needs from within its own resources and the Pathway Plan should acknowledge the need at times for multi-agency working. It will need to identify other professionals to be involved in supporting the young person.

The initial Pathway Plan must be inputted on Liquid Logic, using the assessment pro forma and the young person must be given a copy. As with the needs assessment, if the young person has difficulty in communication, the plan must be given in an accessible format and it should be carefully explained. Interpreters should be used in undertaking the plan for young people for whom English is not their first language.

The Personal Advisor should consider who else should be given a copy of the plan. If the plan identifies other agencies or people as having a role in its delivery, they should be given a copy of at least that part of the plan, which relates to their contribution. It may be necessary to produce such parts of the Pathway Plan in an accessible format. The Personal Advisor should discuss with the young person who else should be given a copy and due account should be taken of the young person’s views.

The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 identifies what areas must be considered within the Pathway Plan:

  • The nature and level of support to be provided to the young person and who is to provide it;
  • Details of the accommodation the young person is to occupy;
  • A detailed plan for the education or training of the young person;
  • How the authority will assist the young person in relation to employment, occupation or other purposeful activity;    
  • The support to be provided to enable the young person to develop and sustain appropriate family and social relationships;
  • The financial support to be provided, in particular where this is to meet accommodation and maintenance needs;
  • The health needs, including any mental and emotional health needs of the young person and how these needs are to be met;
  • A contingency plan should the Pathway Plan cease to be effective.

The Pathway Plan should identify the level of financial assistance that the young person is entitled to receive and the way in which the young person should receive their financial assistance.

5. 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.

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.

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

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

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

The review immediately prior to the young person's 18th birthday will agree how future reviews will be conducted, including whether they will involve face to face meetings, and this will be recorded by the Chairperson. In all cases, even when no formal review meetings are held, the 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 '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;
  • The Local Authority provides appropriate supervision and contact with the young person.

The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations. Volume 3: planning transition to adulthood for care leavers (January 2015)

Where a 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 Local Authority must liaise with the Youth Offending Team’s or Probation Providers to support the young person emotionally, practically and financially while in custody. A review of the Pathway Plan should be carried out at least a month before the young person's release to give sufficient time to plan for his or her resettlement, including identifying suitable accommodation where the young person's placement had to be given up or has been lost and identifying who will collect the young person and the sources of support after his or her release.

In the event of one of our care leavers 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 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.

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

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

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

6. The Role of the Personal Advisor

Once a young person ceases to be looked after and has reached the age of eighteen the local authority must appoint a Personal Advisor to support them. The Personal Advisor will act as the focal point to ensure that our care leavers are provided with the right kind of personal support. All care leavers should be aware of who their PA is and how to contact them, so that throughout their transition to adulthood they are able to rely on consistent support from their own key professional.

There is no prescribed professional or occupational qualification determining which professional should carry out the PA function for any individual care leaver. However a PA should normally possess or be working towards a professional qualification.

It will be good practice, where possible, for the young person to maintain the same PA from the age of 17.5 that was allocated to their support when they were an eligible or a relevant child. Any transfer of case holding or support should take place in a planned and managed way; The transfer of support could be timed to coincide with a scheduled review of the young person's pathway plan, or when the young person becomes more settled following a change of education/training or accommodation.

The role of the personal Advisor can be complex and embrace different legislative frameworks but is far more rewarding in helping guide our young people to successful futures. The role recognises the stresses successes and challenges for young people leaving care and embraces multi agency working to effectively offer achievable futures. Developing and building upon their aspirations and encouraging them to achieve positive goals.

The promotion of our care leavers education, training, employment and good health is the responsibility of Bexley Council acting as a corporate parent and the Personal Advisor will seek advice and consultation for the young person from the our partner agencies.

The role of the Personal Advisor is both pragmatic and proactive. The Personal Advisor should offer practical, timely assistance to ensure ongoing success for our care lever and if necessary should put them in touch with other agencies offering support.

The Personal Advisor will take a close interest in their young person’s health care and ensure that they are registered with a GP and dentist. This will be especially necessary for those young people who move out of the area and who cannot keep their existing registrations. The Personal Advisor will liaise with the appropriate Looked After Children’s Nurse to ensure a smooth transfer at the age of eighteen and complete in partnership with our health trust a health passport. This will offer information and guide young people in accessing their health history after the age of eighteen.

The Personal Advisor is responsible for managing and implementing the Pathway Plan. It is not intended that the Personal Advisor should be solely responsible for all the tasks identified in the Pathway Plan, These should be allocated, by agreement, to those people best able to meet our care leaver’s needs. It is the responsibility of the Personal Advisor to ensure that the identified tasks are achieved. The task of supporting our care leavers to access education, training or employment will be supported in partnership with the team’s careers advisor. It remains the role of the personal advisor to ensure that plans are progressed.

The Personal Advisor is responsible for keeping in touch with the young people they support, maintaining appropriate records and reporting on outcomes. This is an important piece of work providing information necessary for the Performance Indicator returns to central government. This encompasses employment, education, the suitability of their accommodation and whether the young person is still in contact with the authority.

The personal advisor will be responsible for identifying any financial assistance required by the young person in connection with their employment, education and training. For ongoing packages of financial support for young people in Further and Higher Education, the Personal Advisor will complete an application with the young person, which will need to be authorised by the Service Manager.

The Personal Adviser should monitor the young person’s accommodation and ensure its suitability and sustainability.

The Personal Advisor is the key person for keeping in touch with the young person, as required by the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000. The Personal Advisor should, as far as is reasonably practicable, be aware of the young person’s friends and extended family members, who can be contacted should they lose touch with the young person. These contact details should be recorded, in case the Personal Advisor is unavailable at some time in the future.

7. Education, Training and Employment

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.

Care Leavers Continuing in Education

Where young people are continuing with an education or training course beyond their 21st birthday, the practical and financial support being provided must continue to be set out in their Pathway Plan.

Pathway Plans must set out accommodation arrangements, including financial arrangements during term time, short vacations and the long summer vacation.

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 The 16-19 Bursary Fund (DfE, GOV.UK website).

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

Supporting care leaver’s access apprenticeships, work experience, vocational training and full time employment

Bexley Council has a responsibility to provide a full range of options for care leavers in order to develop and extend their skills and assist them in their application for secure employment, education and training opportunities. This strategy defines the Council’s policy for doing this, outlining how Personal Advisors, Social Workers foster carers and other relevant individuals can best support our young people to access apprenticeships, work placements, vocational training and employment.

Procedure

Click here to view the Procedure Flowchart.

The procedure will be followed by all professionals working with care leavers and other young people who are NEET or at risk of becoming NEET. It can be used for Care leavers who are interested in sourcing work experience, within or external to the Council.

Leaving Care Team ETE (Careers) Advisor

  • The Leaving Care ETE (Careers) Advisor will improve the career opportunities available to our young people and ensure we reduce the numbers of Care Leavers who are not in Education Training or Employment (NEET);
  • The Advisor will support our young people and their Personal Advisors access a range of education, work and training. They will provide an oversight of all available opportunities including those available within the Council and signpost services to relevant partners;
  • The Advisor will meet with all of our NEET Care Leavers and their allocated Personal Advisor’s to establish work plans;
  • They will attend Bexley’s Progression Panel and will present young people’s cases to training and employment providers for opportunities;
  • The Advisor will maintain and update the opportunity directory which is contained within the leaving Care Team Policy and procedures document;
  • The NEET Tracker will be maintained to monitor the career destinations for our Care Leavers;
  • They will disseminate information on traineeships, education and work related opportunities to all teams (Looked After and Leaving Care Teams);
  • The ETE advisor will manage arrangements with Bexley Prospects to offer additional services:
    1. 16-24 Mentoring fund will be re directed to offer support for our care leavers who are single parents/expectant mums. This will offer courses on Childcare, healthy living/lifestyle, cookery, certificated courses in paediatric first aid, food & hygiene. Location of the course could be offered at Haberdashers who have a nursery facility that could offer crèche facilities during future training sessions;
    2. Prospects will provide IAG (Information Advice and Guidance) to our care leavers to establish work plans, signposting and offering mentoring, advocacy and reviews to ensure our care leavers remain on track.

Bexley Prospects

  • IAG sessions to explore career ideas/aspirations and look into possible options;
  • Prospects will support our care leavers access employability skills;
  • Support with Job searches;
  • Online application support for apprenticeships, training, education and employment;
  • Bespoke workshops e.g. confidence building, motivation, social media and employability skills;
  • Support for the young person in partnership with the personal Advisor/ETE Advisor in finding work experience ideas and opportunities;
  • Designated appointments with the Prospects personal advisor on a Wednesday morning at Bexley Youth Advice in Bexleyheath Broadway.

Resources Plus

  • Resources plus provides employment support for all Bexley residents who are aged 18+ and are unemployed or working less than 16 hours per week. The service provides a menu of interventions which can be tailored to suit need. This will include:
    1. Welcome Workshop (obligatory for all clients to register to use the service and receive an outline of the support available);
    2. Access to one to one information, advice and guidance (maximum of 3 one hour sessions in any 12 month period);
    3. Daily job club – drop in and booked sessions;
    4. Workshops – regular programme of employability workshops (application forms, interview skills, childcare);
    5. Training – programme of training courses, clients need to be claiming an eligible benefit (JSA, ESA, Income Support).
Bexley’s Job Club for Care Leavers
  • We provide a Job Club for our Care Leavers in partnership with Job Centre Plus and the Drive Forward foundation. The club runs monthly at Job Centre plus within the IT suite and is designed to support our care leavers find job opportunities. Drive Forward foundation will attend each session to offer job mentoring.
Voluntary Agencies
  • Our Care Leavers will benefit from the Who Cares trust and Dive Forward Foundation with apprenticeship and traineeships. Drive Forward offer motivational training and creative workshops to support our care leavers build confidence and aspiration;
  • We work effectively with the My Bank (MyBnk) organisation who are funded through the National Lottery Grant fund and provide an accredited Money Works two day course for our young people. Future work will extend this important training event to our younger cohort from the ages of 16-18. Four events will be arranged yearly in partnership with MyBnk. The charity was included in the 2012 New Radicals list of people and organizations changing Britain for the better. The training also provides an accredited course over a two day period.
Working with other Authorities
  • We will utilise the former arrangements with Greenwich, Lewisham and Southwark following Bexley’s participation with New Belongings to offer wider opportunities for all of our care leavers;
  • We will work with Bexley’s Talent Development Officer to enhance our offer to care Leavers through apprenticeship opportunities, exploring the potential for reciprocal work experience within these other boroughs. We will also support those care leavers within these boroughs as part of the reciprocal arrangement. 
Careers Directory
  • A Careers Directory outlining all possible opportunities internal and external to the Council is held within the Leaving Care Team Policy and procedures Document. The directory provides a summary of the different options available for young people. This is not an exhaustive list and opportunities will be matched to young people individually depending on their interests and skill set;
  • Training and employment will also be available through Prospects and the directory will be used in conjunction with the advice given by the ETE (Career’s) Advisor and/or Prospects Representative.
Progression Panel
  • The Progression Panel is a multi-agency meeting organised monthly by Resources Plus bringing together various partners to discuss potential opportunities for Young People who need support in accessing education, training or employment. The ETE (Careers) Advisor will present appropriate cases at the panel based on the pen pictures that have been received.

8. 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.

Qualifying Young People

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

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

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

Where a Qualifying Young Person accesses education, or training, financial assistance, this will be possible to the age of 24. This will ensure that he or she is able to take advantage of the opportunities being offered.

The young person's social worker 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 social worker 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.

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

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

Whenever possible, plans for movement of care leavers to a different local authority area must be discussed and the level of service provision agreed with the host authority concerned prior to the move taking place.

All care leavers should be advised on how to access care leavers' services if they move to a different local authority area and need assistance. The advice provided should be in written form.

With young people moving to other authorities, a discussion and joint meeting between the respective Leaving Care Teams must be arranged.

10. Staying Put

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

For a young person living in foster care, the first Looked After Review following his or her 16th birthday should consider whether a Staying Put arrangement should be an option.

For further information see the Staying Put Procedure.

11. 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.

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.