Care Leavers and Transition to Adulthood
See LCS User Guide
For more information on Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children, please see the dedicated chapter, Unaccompanied Migrant Children and Child Victims of Trafficking and Modern Slavery Procedure.
Should a young person leave care and reside with someone with PR and no longer require ongoing services, please see Ceasing to Look After a Child Procedure, Children Who are 'Eligible Children' – Transition into Adulthood, which contains information about Case Management Responsibilities for 16 and 17 year olds Leaving care.
In March 2022, Section 6, The Pathway Plan was updated to note that, in relevant cases, immigration status should be included as a separate section on the Pathway Plan. This will help to ensure that young people who have been granted Pre Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme apply to convert this to Settled Status at the appropriate. Pathway Plans should contain clear information about what action needs to be taken by whom and when to ensure that the young person's right to remain legally in the UK is not jeopardised.
1. Introduction, Overview and Legal Framework
Hertfordshire County Council recognises its responsibility, in partnership with other agencies to assist young people leaving care to re-integrate successfully with their families, or to become as self-supporting as possible. The necessary services will be available to help care leavers achieve a successful transition, and will be provided in accordance with the agencies' legal obligations and by the best use of available resources, and in recognition that they are likely to be particularly vulnerable due to their life experiences.
These procedures detail the services provided to young people who are entitled to support to prepare them to leave care but who remain looked after ("eligible children"), and to young people who have ceased to be looked after ("relevant" and "former relevant" children). They aim to meet the requirements of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations (in respect of Eligible young people) and the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010 (in respect of Relevant, Former Relevant, and Qualifying young people) and to ensure that care leavers are provided with comprehensive personal support so that they achieve their potential as they make their transition to adulthood.
The 2010 Regulations set new terminology and move away from leaving care being a point in time to this being a transition over a period of time. They introduce a new expectation that young people can return to their responsible authority (i.e. the authority that last looked after them) for services up to their 25th birthday.
The key pieces of legislation and guidance staff need to be most familiar with and consult alongside these procedures are:
- The Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010;
- The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Guidance and Regulations 2010 (Amended 2015);
- The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations;
- Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 Guidance and Regulations;
- Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000;
- Valuing People : The Learning Disability Strategy for The 21st Century;
- Guidance on the Education of Children and Young People in the Public Care;
- Working Together to Safeguard Children;
- Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and Their Families;
- Children and Families Act 2014;
- The Care Act 2014;
- Children and Social Work Act 2017;
- Health and Safety at Work Act;
- Management of Health and Safety Work Regulations.
As a quick reference staff will find details of leaving care & after care in the following sections of the legislation and guidance:
- The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations – Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers - Sections 24, 27, 61 and 64 of the Children 1989 Act;
- Chapter 16 In Vol. 6, Guidance and Regulations; Children with Disabilities;
- Hertfordshire's Joint Housing Protocol for Working with Homeless 16/17 year olds and Care Leavers;
- HCC Care Leaver Strategy;
- HCC Transition to Adulthood (Leaving Care) Financial Policy Guidance;
- HCC Education of Children Looked After Procedure.
2. The Responsible Authority
The responsible authority is the council which last looked after the young person, wherever they are currently living. Where a young person who is eligible for services was looked after by another authority, that authority will be responsible for ensuring the provision of the necessary services. The roles and responsibility of the authorities involved are set out in Local Authority Social Services Letter LASSL(2004)20 (archived).
3. Duties of Responsible Authorities
- The responsible authority has a number of duties in relation to relevant children including:
- To undertake a Leaving Care Assessment of Need;
- To provide a Leaving Care Personal Adviser;
- To provide a Pathway Plan;
- To keep in touch with the young person;
- To provide assistance with the expenses associated with education and training;
- To provide vacation accommodation or the funds to secure it to care leavers in higher education or on a residential further education course which requires them to live away from home as agreed in the Pathway Plan;
- To maintain a case record which should include any assessment of needs, any Pathway Plan and any review of a Pathway Plan;
- To regularly review and revise the Pathway Plan (at least every 6 months).
- Responsibilities in relation to former relevant children include:
- To undertake a Leaving Care Assessment of Need;
- To provide a Leaving Care Personal Adviser;
- To provide a Pathway Plan;
- To maintain a case record which should include any assessment of needs, any Pathway Plan and any review of a Pathway Plan;
- To regularly review and revise the Pathway Plan (at least every 6 months);
- Assistance where a young person incurs expenses associated with employment, education and training, up to the age of 24 where connected to a course of education or training;
- To keep in touch up to the age of 25 if the young person is receiving assistance with education and training.
- Responsibilities in relation to eligible children are as set out in the Care Planning Guidance for Children Looked After (see Care Planning Guidance);
- Responsibilities in relation to care leavers who are qualifying children include:
- Vacation accommodation or the means to secure it, for care leavers between the age of 16 and 21 qualifying for advice and assistance, who are in higher education or on a residential further education course, where needed.
The 2010 Regulations define four categories of young people entitled to leaving care services:
4.1 Eligible Children
Young people aged 16-17, who have been looked after for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14, plus a minimum of 24 hours after they have reached the age of 16/17 years, and who are still looked after.
Young people who were detained in hospital or voluntary patients in hospital before the age of 16 and who remain detained at age 16 and immediately before having been detained or admitted to hospital, had been accommodated for 13 weeks by a local authority.
There is no leaving care duty if the young person was a child looked after for less than 13 weeks (after their 14th birthday) and on being sentenced to custody they cease to be looked after and when they reach the age of 16. (please see separate chapter for details of duties in respect of former Children Looked After in custody (see Former Children Looked After in Detention Procedure) S/he would require a Child and Family Assessment to be undertaken on release including a decision whether s/he should become looked after again. However if the young person does then become looked after the CLA periods would need to be aggregated and on reaching 13 weeks s/he becomes eligible. If the young person does not become looked after post 16 there would be no leaving care responsibility.
One category of children who, although fulfilling the criteria for eligible children, are not deemed eligible are children who have been in receipt of short-term breaks (Regulation 3(2) (a)). A young person who has had a number of planned short-term breaks, none longer than 4 weeks and after each one they return to their parents or someone with parental responsibility. This will particularly apply to disabled young people who have regular periods of short-term breaks. This group are deemed qualifying children.
4.2 Relevant Children
Young people aged 16-17, who have been looked after for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14, plus a minimum of 24 hours after they have reached the age of 16/17 years, but are no longer looked after.
The following are included in the definition of relevant children:
Young People Detained or in Hospital (Regulation 4(2)).
These are young people who on reaching 16 and have received a custodial sentence, (see Former Children Looked After in Detention Procedure) or in hospital and any other institution ordered by the Court, and immediately prior to being detained/sentenced, have been looked after for 13 weeks since the age of 14 will become relevant children. This extension applies even if the young person is detained overnight.
At that point a duty will fall to Childrens Services to prepare a 16+ Needs Assessment and Pathway Plan.
Those young people who were not looked after for 13 weeks prior to being sentenced to custody will not become relevant children. While they are in custody the visiting requirements of the Visits to Former Looked After Children in Detention Regulations 2010 should be observed. On their release they must be regarded as children in need by the local authority where s/he is to live, where s/he would require a Child and Family Assessment to be undertaken, including a decision whether they should again become looked after.
4.3 Former Relevant Children
Young people aged 18-21, who have been eligible and/or relevant. If at the age of 21 the young person is still being helped by the local authority with a prescribed programme of education or training, s/he remains a former relevant child to the end of the agreed programme.
Young people aged 21 - 25 who return to the local authority for assistance with education or training reassume their former relevant status until they have completed the prescribed programme.
4.4 Qualifying Children and Young People Over 16
A young person who has been a CLA for at least 24 hours post their 16th birthday.
Young people are covered by the fact they were being privately fostered or subject to a Special Guardianship Order.
A young person who has had a number of planned short-term breaks, none longer than 4 weeks and after each one they return to their parents or someone with parental responsibility. This will particularly apply to disabled young people who have regular periods of short-term breaks. Under the 2010 Regulations this group is deemed to be qualifying children.
5. The Leaving Care Assessment of Need
Relationship between the Assessment Framework and Care Leavers Regulations 2010.
|Assessment Framework||Care Leavers Regulations 2010|
|PATHWAY PLAN PART 1||PATHWAY PLAN PART 2|
|Health||Health and development||Health needs, including health promotion and mental health needs, how they are to be met|
|Education||Education, training and employment||A detailed plan for education or training, or assistance in employment|
|Emotional and behavioural development including identity||
Health and development
|Health needs, health promotion, mental health needs, how they are to be met|
|Family and social relationships||
Family and other social relationships
|Support to develop and sustain family and social relationships. Nature and level of personal support|
|Social presentation and self-care skills||Practical and other skills necessary for independent living||Programme to develop practical and other skills to live independently|
|Basic care, ensuring safety, stimulation, guidance, boundaries and stability||Support available from family. Support to sustain other relationships||Family and social Relationships. Nature and level of personal support. Contingency plans|
|FAMILY and ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS|
|Family history and wider family||Support available from family and other social relationships||Support to maintain family and social relationships|
|Housing||Care, support, accommodation||Details of accommodation|
|Employment||Education, training and employment||Assistance in employment|
|Income||Financial needs||Financial support|
|Family's social integration||Support available from family and other social relationships||Support to develop and sustain family and other social relationships|
|Community resources||Support available from within the community||Community resources to provide support|
6. The Pathway Plan
The Planning Transitions to Adulthood for Care Leavers Guidance (2010, revised 2015) specifies that all relevant and former relevant children (as well as eligible children) must have a Pathway Plan, as this sets out the transitional process for young people leaving care into adulthood and independence, which is different from the CIN planning process, that is usually short term and mainly highlights services required to meet their needs within Safeguarding and Specialist Services. A young person looked after for less than 13 weeks after their 16th birthday – (Southwark cases) may be deemed a qualifying child. However, if that young person successfully returns home, they will not be regarded as "qualifying" under Section 24 of the Children Act, 1989, but should be supported under Section 17 of the 1989 Act along with a CIN Plan.According to the 2010 guidance the Pathway Plan must include:
Any services being provided in respect of the young person's disability or needs arising from being in custody or as a result of entering the country as an unaccompanied asylum seeker.
The plan for the young person's continuing education or training when he/she ceases to be looked after (where the young person is no longer of statutory school age, the Pathway Plan may need to incorporate the goals and actions that were previously included in the PEP).
How the Responsible Authority will assist the young person in obtaining employment or other purposeful activity or occupation, taking into account their aspirations, skills and educational potential.
The financial support to be provided to enable the young person to meet accommodation and maintenance costs; taking into account their financial capabilities and money-management capacity, along with strategies to develop skills in this area.
The nature and level of contact and personal support to be provided, and by whom, to the young person.
Details of the accommodation the young person is to occupy (including an assessment of its suitability in the light of needs, and details of the considerations taken into account in assessing that suitability).
Details of the arrangements made by the authority to meet the young person's needs in relation to identity with particular regard to their religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background.
The IRO should be satisfied that the pathway plan is aspirational, that it will assist the young person with the transition and that it has contingency plans in respect of health and education. In the event that the IRO is not satisfied that the pathway plan will meet the child's identified needs s/he should seek to resolve the issue through informal routes or of this is not successful, through the local dispute resolution process (see Case Escalation Process Procedure).
Where relevant, immigration status should be included as a separate section on Pathway Plans. This will help to ensure that young people who have been granted Pre Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme apply to convert this to Settled Status at the appropriate time. Each young person's personal deadline for converting Pre Settled into Settled Status is unique to them and contained in a digital format – it is important therefore that this is recorded and monitored by the local authority. Plans should contain clear information about what action needs to be taken by whom and when.
The IRO should be provided with an updated copy of the final pathway plan 20 working days before the young person's 18th birthday, whether or not a review is due to take place and should communicate directly with the young person in relation to the arrangements set out in the pathway plan. In the event that the young person or the IRO are not satisfied with the arrangements, consideration should be given to convening an additional review and/or taking other remedial action.
7. The Process of Planning for Leaving Care and Commencing the Assessment of Need
From the time children and young people begin being looked after, Children's Services, in partnership with other agencies, will, through its planning and reviewing processes, continuously promote preparation for the time when they cease to be looked after.
These processes will mesh with pathway planning to ensure that sufficient continuing support is offered until the young person is successfully re-integrated with their families, or has achieved as much independence as possible.
The necessary detailed planning while the young person is looked after will be achieved through the use of the Integrated Children's System.
The leaving care assessment (The Pathway Plan Part 1) will be started when a young person reaches the age of 15 1/2 and completed when they reach the age of 16. (Refer to the booklet "Preparation for Independence and Pathway Planning Checklist"). Arrangements to complete the needs assessment and a timetable for this assessment should be discussed and agreed at the young person's statutory review meeting prior to their sixteenth birthday.
The Leaving Care Assessment of Need will be undertaken by the young person's looked after social worker and must be approved by the young person, the social worker/Leaving Care Personal Adviser and their manager.
The assessment will define all of the young person's comprehensive needs in terms of preparation for, and transition to, independence. It will be shared with partner agencies at the relevant Pathway Planning meeting. The Pathway Plan Part 1 should not be used mechanistically as a questionnaire. A good needs assessment will draw on information from a variety of sources.
The same principles underpin the Pathway Plan Part 1 as for all the other assessments of children and young people. The Pathway Plan Part 1 uses the same structure as the other assessment records. It considers the young person's needs in relation to the seven developmental needs dimensions.
The structure of the Pathway Plan Part 1 is similar to other assessments within the Integrated Children's System. The information gathered in the Pathway Plan Part 1 is pulled together in the Analysis Section and informs Part Two of the Pathway Plan.
The first Pathway Plan should be completed immediately following the young person's 16th birthday. Legally an assessment of need and Pathway Plan must be completed no later than 3 months after a young person becomes eligible or relevant (and former relevant). The responsibility for producing and co-ordinating the Pathway Plan for 16 and 17 year old Children Looked After rests with the allocated worker (e.g. 0-25 Service, SASH, Family Safeguarding, Leaving Care Personal Adviser, CLA Social Worker, etc.…)
The Pathway Plan Part 2 will be completed within the prescribed time frame and should be reviewed every 6 months or whenever there is a significant change by the social worker/Leaving Care Personal Adviser. This includes when a young person moves from regulated to deregulated accommodation.
As part of preparation for leaving care, the social worker/leaving care Personal Adviser will ensure that a young person is given the appropriate advice about the services they can expect.
8. Leaving Care Personal Adviser
When they become eligible for leaving care services, each young person will have a named Leaving Care Personal Adviser.
For young people who are looked after aged 16 & 17, the Personal Adviser function will be provided by their Social Worker (e.g. Family Safeguarding, SASH, CLA…).
When a young person reaches the age of 16 and is deemed an eligible child but case responsibility is not in a CLA Team (e.g. in a 0-25 Together Service Team or other team), their relevant social worker will also be deemed their Leaving Care Personal Adviser.
For young people aged 18 or over, the Leaving Care Personal Adviser will be provided by:
- The CLA and Care Leaver Service; or
- YC Hertfordshire LDD Team
Disabled care leavers who meet the criteria for services from the Adult Care Services (eligibility criteria – Care Act 2014) will be provided with services via the 0-25 Together Service and will also be allocated a Leaving Care Personal Adviser from YC Hertfordshire, if they have a learning disability. Where a Hertfordshire disabled care leaver (specifically those with a learning disability) is pIaced outside of Hertfordshire and wishes to remain there, Hertfordshire will continue to support that care leaver into adulthood.
Where a disabled care leaver from another local authority is placed in Hertfordshire that local authority will be responsible for providing continued support to that care leaver even after they become an adult.
In Accordance with the Care Act 2014 (Section 37 (5)(6) local authorities must work together to ensure a seamless transition between children and adult social care. The responsibility for any adult service will be based on a Care Act 2014 eligibility and service assessment and a determination of the adults 'Ordinary Residence'.
The Leaving Care Personal Adviser is likely to be the primary focus of support/advocacy for the young person, and will be responsible for keeping in touch and for the co-ordination and delivery of support identified via the Pathway Plan throughout the leaving care transition process, which will last up to age 21 or up until age 25 if they wish and if enrolled in an agreed programme of education or training. Young people can also return to their Responsible Authority between the ages of 21 and 25 to resume education or training.
The Leaving Care Personal Adviser must be proactive in keeping in touch, or in re-establishing contact. Arrangements for contact and keeping in touch may vary, dependent on the needs, views and wishes of the young person. Once contact arrangements have been agreed, the agreements must be written into the young person's Pathway Plan.
If there are difficulties in regular contact (i.e. the young person is not making themselves available), then the Leaving Care Personal Advisers need to inform their line manager, where consideration can be given to any changes in approach, or who else might be in regular contact to support the local authority in keeping up to date with any changes or needs of the young person. The Pathway Plan must set out expectations for the Leaving Care Personal Adviser to see the care leaver, and if relevant, arrangements for staying in touch in other ways i.e. text, emails and phone conversations. In addition to face to face contact with care leavers (see Written Communication with Children and Young People Procedure).
The role of the social worker/Leaving Care Personal Adviser for 16 and 17 year olds is to take responsibility for the young person's statutory CLA needs and preparation for adulthood.
The role of the Leaving Care Personal Adviser for young people aged 18 plus is to meet their statutory leaving care needs which include:
- Provide advice (including practical advice and support);
- Participate in the assessment and preparation of the Pathway Plan;
- Participate in reviews of the Pathway Plan;
- Liaise with the responsible authority in the implementation of the Pathway Plan;
- Co-ordinate the provision of services and take reasonable steps to ensure that the young person makes use of such services;
- Stay informed about the young person's progress and well being;
- The Leaving Care 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;
- Assessing and checking the suitability of accommodation;
- When the care leaver moves to new accommodation, the Leaving Care Personal Adviser must see them at that accommodation within 7 days of the move. Subsequently they must see the care leaver at the point at which the pathway plan will be first reviewed - namely after 28 days (or sooner) - and then they must visit the care leavers at no less than 2 monthly intervals. It is important to understand that these are minimum requirements. Where care leavers develop problems as they assume the responsibilities of adulthood they should expect, and will require, much more frequent personal contact with their Leaving Care Personal Adviser;
- Visits should often be scheduled to take place at the accommodation where the young person lives. On each occasion the Leaving Care Personal Adviser must consider whether this accommodation continues to be suitable for the young person. The Leaving Care Personal Adviser will need to observe the general state of the property and check how well the care leaver is managing in their accommodation, including that they are managing their financial commitments for rent, utilities etc. Where a young person is living in semi-independent accommodation linked to the provision of housing related support, the Leaving Care Personal Adviser should monitor how well the accommodation, with its related support, is meeting the young person's needs. They should liaise closely with the young person and their housing support worker to identify and resolve any problems.
Contact for relevant and former relevant young people must be as prescribed in the 2010 Regulations. A record of contact must be kept, as well as actions taken to establish contact where contact has proved impossible or unwelcome. In some situations the Leaving Care Personal Adviser will have to balance the risk of alienating the young person with the need to maintain contact. Care leavers over 18 have the same right to privacy as any other adult.
In the discharge of their function when reviewing the Pathway Plan for under 18's the independent Reviewing Officer will ensure the Assessment of Need and Pathway Plan provides an impartial assessment and planning tool for delivering a leaving care service. Furthermore, the commissioned advocacy service also provides an additional impartial oversight mechanism.
For those who meet the Adult Services criteria, the provision of advocacy may be provided by POhWER.
9. Reassessing the Care Plan
When a young person reaches the age of 16 years and is deemed an eligible child, their Care Plan and Assessment of Need will be incorporated into a combined Care / Pathway Plan.
9.1 Care Leaver Teams
The Care Leaver Teams assume responsibility for all young people who are former relevant (with the exception of young people who meet the Care Act 2014 eligibility criteria who become the responsibility of the YC Hertfordshire LDD Team) and qualifying children under the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010 once they reach 18 years.
9.2 Transitional Plan over a 6 month period
When a young person reaches the age of 17 and 6 months they will be allocated a named Leaving Care Personal Adviser in the CLA and Care Leaver Serviceor the YC Hertfordshire LDD Team. However where there are complex needs for the young person, they will be allocated a named Leaving Care Personal Adviser at age 17 and 3 months. A Transition meeting will take place within 1 month of the allocation to a Leaving Care Personal Adviser. The CLA and Leaving Care Personal Adviser will work together to ensure the transition between workers is supported for the young person.
For young people with an ongoing disability who meet the adult services (Care Act 2014) eligibility criteria, the Leaving Care Personal Adviser is provided by the Services for Young People – YC Hertfordshire LDD Team.
The Care Leaver Teams are responsible for planning continuing support with the care leaver until they reach the age of 21 or if they are in need of continued support until they are 25.
The Leaving Care Personal Adviser is likely to be the primary focus of support/advocacy for the young person, and will be responsible for keeping in touch and the co-ordination and delivery of the Pathway Plan throughout the leaving care transition process, which will last up to age 21 or beyond if needed. The Pathway Plan should be regarded as a shared plan - shared between Hertfordshire County Council and the young person.
In order to ensure a seamless transfer an Early Warning Form will be completed by the allocated social worker when the young person reaches the age of 17. The Early Warning Form needs to provide a summary of the case and detail the ongoing plan for the young person (post 18 support needs), including any additional support required from adult services and any referrals made to HCS or other services.
At point of transfer the following are required:
- An up to date Pathway Plan (Part 1 and 2) appropriately authorised on LCS;
- A complete and up to date chronology of significant events on LCS;
- A clear and realistic independence support plan for the young person;
- Funding agreements for young people where complex needs which require funded services or funded accommodation;
- An overview of whether the young person is considered high, medium or low risk;
- Copies of health assessments, including mental health assessments;
- A housing registration which is up to date and active along with the status of the young person's housing application, together with any actions required;
- The status of the young person's housing application, together with any actions required;
- Any financial support accessed or to be accessed for the young person;
- Benefits applied for and any funding agreements in place, including funding around education/training.
For young people with a Learning Disability, the process described above applies and the early warning should be sent to LDDadmin@hertfordshire.gov.uk and the above processes will be followed by the 0-25 Together Service Central Team and the YC Hertfordshire LDD Team.
10. Reviewing the Plan
The Pathway Plan (Part 2) must be reviewed every 6 months until the young person reaches 21 (or beyond if they are in education or training), or sooner if the young person's circumstances change, or where the young person requests a review. While they remain looked after, the young person's Pathway Plan will be reviewed by an Independent Reviewing Officer within the CLA Reviewing system.
Frequency of Reviews of Pathway Plan when a Relevant or Former Relevant Young Person Moves to 'Unregulated' Accommodation
- 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;
- Arrange a review 28 days (or as soon as practicable thereafter) from the time the accommodation is provided; and
- Determine at what intervals (not exceeding six months) subsequent reviews will be carried out;
- 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 their 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;
- Where a young person is pregnant or is an expectant father.
11. Young People Aged 16 and 17 Who Return Home (Regulation 3(2) (B))
Whilst the young person is successfully living at home:
- A young person who is subject to a Care Order (s31) will remain eligible unless the Care Order is revoked;
- A young person who lives at home for more than 6 months after the Care Order is revoked before their 18th birthday will become qualifying;
- When a young person looked after under s20 returns home that s20 status ends and they become a relevant child after Regulation 39 checklist has been approved, if they were previously eligible;
- If a young person successfully lives at home for 6 months or more they become a qualifying child following a Pathway Plan Review.
If a return home breaks down:
A young person aged 16/17 years deemed to be a qualifying child whose return home breaks down before their 18th birthday will automatically revert to being a relevant child. The authority is responsible for providing a placement or the means to secure a placement for all relevant children.
A young person subject to a Care Order will continue to be deemed eligible.
If the Care Order is not revoked before the young person reached the age of 18 then HCC retains the duty to support her/him as a former relevant child.
Qualifying young people can, following an assessment by the local authority, receive a service commensurate with services for eligible, relevant and former relevant young people; depending on their circumstances and an assessment of need.
12. Encouraging Young People's Involvement and EngagementEvery effort will be made to ensure that young people are provided with flexible services and therefore remain engaged with the support provided by Children's Services. The Pathway Plan should focus on the provision of flexible services that ensures young people's needs are met, even where there may be reluctance to engage directly with the local authority. The Leaving Care Personal Adviser is responsible for the co-ordination of services, some of which may be provided by previous carers, community based organisations, such as Herts Young Homeless, a YC Hertfordshire LDD Mentor, Care Leaver Mentors, the HUB Approach, or other support providers. Where a young person is reluctant to engage directly with services from the local authority, the Pathway Plan should set out how the local authority will meet their needs via the use of a range of support services.
13. Health and Wellbeing
Care leavers often have little information about their medical history and how to take care of their personal health. Therefore Children's Services, in partnership with other agencies, will ensure that all young people leaving care have sufficient knowledge and access to services to enable them to take good care of their health, including mental and emotional health. A healthy lifestyle also means relationships, sexual health and exercise, caring about oneself and having people to talk to.
The Pathway Plan will build on the planning and action related to health while the young person was looked after. The maintenance of health records will be the basis of planning a healthy lifestyle with access to appropriate services.
Young people should be helped to take responsibility for their own health care, and the Pathway Plan must be clear about who is responsible for giving the necessary support. This should include help to establish and access free prescriptions and other health benefits where appropriate.
All care leavers must be encouraged to be registered with a General Practitioner and dentist with assistance where necessary.
The Children Looked After and Care Leaver's Health Service are available for all young people whilst under the care of HCC i.e. up to 21 years or 24 if still being supported by a Leaving Care Personal Adviser,ensuring that health promotion and health advice is available.
14. Young Parents
There are the same requirements for young parents, as for other care leavers, to provide a Pathway Plan focusing on accommodation, educational opportunities and life skills, as well as for appointing a Leaving Care Personal Adviser offering ongoing support.
However, the details of the plan could be different. Eligible and Relevant young parents are entitled to Universal Credit (but not the housing element). Making a claim for Universal Credit will enable a claim for Sure Start Maternity Grant to be made. Hertfordshire Children's Services should assess the need to provide a placement or financial support to cover the costs of accommodation for eligible and relevant young parents. Any decisions to provide financial assistance or resources should be made via the Leaving Care Finance Policy and/or HARP (see Hertfordshire Access to Resources Panel (H.A.R.P) and Delegated Authority for Resource Agreement Procedure).
Some young parents may require support with employment and educational opportunities, and can be assisted by the Education, Training and Employment Service for Children in Public Care.
Young parents can be particularly isolated and Leaving Care Personal Advisers should give particular attention to leisure interests, family contact, childcare arrangements and specialist support provision for young parents.
Where a young person is going to have a baby (expectant mother or father), the Pathway Plan Review must be brought forward once the pregnancy is known (see Section 10, Reviewing the Plan).
Consideration must also be given to the support needs of expectant mothers or fathers and whether further assessment would be suitable (e.g. pre-birth assessment). For more information, please refer to the HSCP, Pre-Birth Protocol, Procedures and Guidance for Pre-Birth Assessment.
15. CLA/Care Leavers with Offending Behaviour
Young people subject to a Care Order (S31) remain subject to that Order.
Remanded Section 20
Young people who were accommodated and are remanded and who are subject to Section 20 remain Looked After whilst subject to remand. On being sentenced they cease to be Looked After.
Remanded from Home – Living with Parents
Young people who were not Looked After become Looked After under Section 21 on being remanded into custody and cease to be Looked After on being sentenced (see above). The requirements of the Visits to Former Looked After Children in Detention Regulations 2010 apply (see Former Children Looked After in Detention Procedure).
Where a care leaver has support from youth offending or the National Probation Service, the Leaving Care Personal Adviser will work closely with the young person's key worker to ensure that care planning takes into account entitlements and support needs as a care leaver. Should a care leaver be in secure accommodation, the Leaving Care Personal Adviser will liaise with the young person's key worker to ensure contact and care planning, including moving on arrangements upon the young person's release from prison.
16. Staying Put Arrangements
From April 2011 each local authority has been required to have a "Staying Put" policy that sets out the local arrangements for extending placement arrangements beyond the age of 18.
Hertfordshire's Staying Put Policy, Procedure and Flowchart is set out in a separate chapter (see Staying Put Policy).
17. Obtaining Key Identity Documents, National Insurance Number, Passport and Birth Certificate
Young people, who are not looked after, should receive their national insurance number at the age of 15 years and 9 months. The National Insurance Number is sent to the address where Child Benefit is being claimed for the young person. However, as there is no child benefit claim for the majority of looked after children, the National Insurance number is not automatically issued. Therefore, when the young person is 15 years and 9 months, an application for a National Insurance Number must be undertaken by the young person's Social Worker.
The Social Worker / Leaving Care Personal Adviser should contact the New Registration Department, DWP Contributions Agency, New Registrations, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne NE98 1YX (A - L TEL (019122) 53662; M - Z TEL (019122) 57946; FAX: 08459 157384 to request form number: CA35OU which should be completed to obtain the national insurance number for a young person.
Such requests must be made on headed paper in the name of the Director of Children's Safeguarding and Specialist Services, and must include the following details:
- Name and date of birth of the young person;
- Date the young person became looked after;
- Current address;
- Previous three addresses;
- Current address of parent(s);
- If the young person is an asylum seeker, copies of Home Office documents.
The Social Worker should also ensure that each young person has a passport and copy of their birth certificate.
18. Information for Young People
Care leavers must receive clear information about their entitlements and other relevant support services. The Leaving Care Personal Adviser will ensure that each young person is given relevant leaving care information to inform their decision making.
Young people must be given the necessary assistance to identify and access the services they need.
Please also see HCC Information Page for Care Leavers.
19. Education Training and Employment
Care leavers are particularly at risk of missing out on good career and further education opportunities. Pathway planning will seek to maximise and support these opportunities.
Children Services will give financial support to care leavers undertaking agreed courses of further education or training. Links should be made to the Virtual School 16 Plus Team.
Where young people are undertaking apprenticeships, every effort should be made to ensure continuity in their accommodation to prevent disruption to their apprenticeship.
Leaving Care Personal Advisers should encourage wider participation in further and higher education by care leavers and ensure support is in place for appropriate education opportunities in higher and further education as agreed in their Pathway Plan. Support is available for young people wishing to continue their education from the Virtual School 16 Plus Team.
Where a young person wishes to commence a further education course after their 19th birthday, funding will be considered following an assessment of need and of the motivation of the young person to undertake, sustain and complete the course. The Leaving Care Personal Adviser should discuss the young person's application for education support with their Team Manager, who will be able to seek further advice and guidance from the Virtual School for Children Looked After and Care Leavers.
Young people between the ages of 21 and 25 years can return to their Local Authority as a former relevant young person, and request support to resume education or training. Following assessment of suitability, the Local Authority would support the young person until the programme of education is over. Following acceptance by the Local Authority, the young person is entitled to a Leaving Care Personal Adviser and a Pathway Plan.
Leaving Care Personal Advisers need to provide young people with advice and support in seeking and sustaining employment, whilst recognising that it may take time for them to find the career to which they are best suited. This will include helping them to access alternative programmes that prepare them for work in a supportive environment.
Additionally, YC Hertfordshire, formerly Youth Connexions (www.ychertfordshire.org) can support care leavers. All services in One Stop Shops are available until their 21st birthday. Care Leavers who are seeking employment, education and training opportunities can receive guidance to make decisions about their future and receive support with their application All apprenticeships and some vacancies in Hertfordshire are displayed on the YC Hertfordshire website; young people can create an account, produce a CV and get support with their application with our Keeping in Touch Team. The team will send out emails and texts to alert young people to any vacancies that match the area and occupational preferences.There are a number of programmes to support young people into work or education including care leavers; these may include experiences of work or traineeships or apprenticeships. As the programmes change all the time, contact YC Hertfordshire for the latest information. These programmes can:
- Reflect the young person's individual abilities, interests and aspirations;
- Are used creatively to increase the young person's employability skills;
- Develop confidence, skill and motivation;
- Promote the idea that the young person can benefit from work:
- Raise awareness of the authority re their potential as employers of young people who are care leavers. See the YC Hertfordshire Jobs and Careers page.
Costs will be met in full for specified clothing/uniform, start up equipment, health and safety equipment, or public transport from accommodation to employment until receipt of first earnings.
Care Leaver Hubs are located within YC Hertfordshire One Stop Shops and are in Stevenage, Hatfield, Cheshunt, Hemel Hempstead and Watford, supporting young people throughout the county. Each Hub will have a dedicated Youth Support Worker in Charge to engage and support those care leavers referred to the programme. Please go to YC Hertfordshire for further details.
Referrals can be made by any professional or directly from the young person by completing a form or just contacting the Care Leaver Hub through their email account; firstname.lastname@example.org
The Care Leavers Hub is a year long project for young people who are preparing to or have left care. The project aims to support these young people in 3 aspects of their life.
- Emotional well-being;
- Physical health.
Supported by a wide range of partners the project can offer tailored support to care leavers according to individual need. This includes everything from informal light touch support to in-depth specialist support around a serious issue. The eligibility criteria for the programme are as follows;
- Young people aged 16-21 years old (Up to 25 years if you have a learning difficulty or disability);
- Leaving care or preparing to leave care, (including fostering or residential placements);
- Young people who are currently disengaged with services;
- Young people who live in Hertfordshire.
Care Leavers Entering Full-Time Further Education
16 and 17 year olds who are in care or have left care (except lone parents and sick or disabled young people) do not have access to income from the benefits system and will need to be fully supported by their responsible authority.
From their 18th birthday until their 21st birthday young people are able to access the benefits system whilst in full-time further education, as long as they commence their education course prior to the 19th birthday. For those starting full-time further education after their 19th birthday the responsible authority will need to support them financially. The Education, Training and Employment Service for Children in Public Care will be responsible for their education funding following an assessment of need.
Financial Arrangements for Care Leavers entering Higher Education
Former Relevant Young People Who Take Up Full-Time Education After the Age of 21 and Before the Age of 25.
The Children and Young Person's Act 2008 extends Local Authority duties when they are informed by former relevant young people of their wish to take up full-time education after the age of 21 and before the age of 25.
In relation to these young people, the Local Authority has a duty to:
- Appoint a Leaving Care 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 them in living near the place where they are, or will be, receiving education or training; or
- Making a grant to enable them to meet expenses connected with thier education and training.
The duties of the Local Authority subsist for as long as the young person pursues the programme of education or training in accordance with the Pathway Plan, and the Local Authority may disregard any interruption in the education/training if it is satisfied that the young person will resume it as soon as is reasonably practicable.
Each Local Authority should develop its own specific policy setting out the support that it is prepared to offer to this group of care leavers, including the following information:
- Arrangements about how young people can resume contact easily with the Local Authority so they are able to take up this support;
- Details of how the Local Authority will work with the young person to develop a new education and training focused Pathway Plan; and
- Information about any financial support.
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 their 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.
20. Accommodation for Relevant and Former Relevant Young People
This section should be read in conjunction with the Homeless 16 and 17 Year Olds Procedure.
The Joint Housing protocol procedures for Homeless 16/17 year olds and Intentionally Homeless Families also applies to Care leavers aged 18 - 21. The procedures emphasise the importance of the Social Worker placing the names of Children Looked After / care leavers on the local authority housing waiting list as soon as they reach the age of 16. This will enable them to build up residence points under their care leaver status when they reach 18 years of age. In addition S&SS will have alerted the local authority Housing Department 6 months prior to the young person's 18th birthday of the impending housing need.
The ten District Councils and County Council are working in partnership to ensure young people make a smooth transition to independent living which avoids the need to present as homeless. The District Housing Authorities have responsibility to give priority to care leavers. They must be involved in the pathway planning process.
Young people leaving care are particularly at risk of becoming homeless, and have an absolute right to be offered accommodation suitable to their needs.
The authority has a responsibility to fund and support all failed asylum seekers aged 18 and over who are former relevant children and where they have no recourse to public funds (following a human rights assessment), until the age of 21, until they are removed, or until the date of removal, which ever comes first.
For Applications for Benefits Refer to the CSF4563 Hertfordshire - Leaving Care Financial Policy Guidance.
20.1 Suitability of Accommodation
In determining the suitability of accommodation for Relevant Young People (under Schedule 2 to the Care Leavers Regulations 2010 and Schedule 6 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010) regard should be had to:
- In respect of the accommodation:
- The facilities and services provided;
- The state of repair;
- The safety;
- The location;
- The support;
- The tenancy status; and
- The financial commitments involved for the relevant young person and their affordability.
- In respect of the Relevant young person:
- Their views about the accommodation;
- Their understanding of their rights and responsibilities in relation to the accommodation; and
- Their understanding of funding arrangements.