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7.8.2 Staying Put Policy

RELEVANT CHAPTER

Leaving Care and Transition Procedure

RELATED GUIDANCE

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

Staying Put - Arrangements for Care Leavers Aged 18 and Above to Stay on With Their Former Foster Carers – Government Guidance issued by the DfE, DWP and HMRC (2013)

Staying Put: Good Practice Guide

Staying Put: The Catch 22 National Care Advisory Service - a booklet for care leavers, regarding staying with their foster carer after the age of 18, and the duties of the local authority to provide support.

AMENDMENT

In March 2017, a link was updated to Staying Put: Good Practice Guide. The link was added to Staying Put: The Catch 22 National Care Advisory Service.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Purpose
  3. Principles
  4. Staying Put Policy
  5. Supported Lodgings Policy


1. Introduction

A Staying Put arrangement is where a Former Relevant child, after ceasing to be Looked After, remains in the former foster home where they were placed immediately before they ceased to be Looked After, beyond the age of 18.

It is the duty of the local authority:

  • To monitor the Staying Put arrangement; and
  • To provide advice, assistance and support to the Former Relevant child and the former foster parent with a view to maintaining the Staying Put arrangement (this must include financial support), until the child reaches the age of 21 (unless the local authority consider that the Staying Put arrangement is not consistent with the child’s welfare).

Note: Where a Staying Put arrangement is in place, the local authority, where appropriate, may consider delegating part of the Personal Adviser function to the foster carer (See Leaving Care and Transition Procedure, Personal Advisers).


2. Purpose

Each local authority is required to have a Staying Put Policy that sets out arrangements where-by the authority will promote the extension of foster care placements beyond a young person’s eighteenth birthday. In addition, this policy includes arrangements for Supported Lodgings to ensure that vulnerable care leavers and those in education receive continued support.

The policy sets out the conditions required for Staying Put to extend a former fostering arrangement beyond a young person’s eighteenth birthday, the associated financial implications, the social care requirements associated with extending former fostering arrangements and the consequential Income Tax, National Insurance and welfare benefit issues.

The policy sets out the conditions required for Supported Lodgings in assessing criteria for a young person in accessing a supported lodgings placement, planning for a young person’s placement and arrangements for leaving a placement.


3. Principles

The Staying Put arrangement promotes the following:

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

The Supported Lodgings Scheme exists primarily as a service to young people making the transition from care between the ages of 16 and 21 years of age. The Supported Lodgings Scheme also provides a service to young people who are experiencing homelessness, who require a supportive environment.

4.1 Operational Principles

  1. Children, young people, their parents and carers should all be considered as individuals with particular needs;
  2. Children and young people are entitled to protection from abuse, neglect and exploitation;
  3. A young person’s age, sex, health, personality, race, culture and life experiences are all relevant to any consideration of needs and vulnerability and have to be taken into account when planning or providing help;
  4. Continuity of relationships is important and attachments should be respected, sustained and developed;
  5. Account will be taken of the young person’s wishes and feelings in any decisions affecting their lives;
  6. There are unique advantages for children in experiencing normal family life in their own birth families and every effort should be made to preserve the child’s home and family links;
  7. Carers are entitled to have appropriate information about any young person placed in their charge, and have a duty to keep it confidential;
  8. Carers need both practical resources and the experience of being valued if they are to give of their best;
  9. Appropriate training should be provided for all carers;
  10. There should be a mechanism for resolving differences in view of minor disputes;
  11. Agencies have a responsibility to support placements which they have made;
  12. Co-operation between organisations, departments and individuals is crucial in the provision of protection for vulnerable children and young people, and also in ensuring proper use of available resources;
  13. Staying Put and Supported Lodgings households should be reviewed at regular and suitable intervals.


5. Staying Put Policy

5.1 Eligibility

The primary aim of Staying Put is to promote a gradual transition from care to adulthood and independent living that recognises that many young people in care experience delayed maturity, and that their 18th birthday may be an arbitrary and inappropriate point to leave foster care. However revised legislation identifies that those children who are in foster care have a right to request that they stay put until their 21st birthday. This policy is designed to ensure young people do not experience a sudden disruption to their living arrangements, that educational achievement and continuity is promoted and that vulnerable young people can make a gradual transition from care to independence. Staying Put arrangements are considered on an individual basis following an assessment of their circumstances.

Staying Put arrangements are applicable to young people over the age of 18 who were previously in a foster placement. Staying Put arrangements apply to 18-21 year olds who are assessed as vulnerable and not yet ready to make the transition into independent living arrangements.

The Staying Put policy includes children with disabilities, for whom independence can be reached by the time they are 21. For those children with disabilities who are not ready for independent living, a Staying Put arrangement is not the best option, and in these cases, the young person will be referred to Adult Services at 17 so that other housing and support options such as shared lives can begin to be planned.

Funding for young people with disabilities who are eligible for Adult Services will remain within that directorate to avoid duplicating existing provision.

The plan for a disabled young person could mean that they live under a staying put agreement up to their 21st birthday, but like all young people’s plans, it will be reviewed regularly, and transitional arrangements on leaving the placement will be made.

The financial arrangements to support the young person’s placement will reflect their individual needs and their entitlement to benefits. Payment will not exceed a total of £400 a week.

Criteria for a disabled young person:

  • The young person has an identified disability, and is eligible for an Adult Social Care disability service. Within their Pathway Plan, the reasons for a disabled young person continuing to live with their carer under a staying put arrangement should consider the impact of the young person’s disability and why it would be in their interests to stay put;
  • The plan will look at the young person’s ability to learn the skills they need to make their next step and whether that requires a more supported or a more independent way of living. The young person, their carer and all those supporting the young person should be clear what their responsibilities are in supporting them in developing their living skills.

Temporary Arrangements

Young people may require an interim arrangement to allow for the transition to their own accommodation or other arrangements.

Interim arrangements will require prior planning as part of the pathway planning process, and should be identified before the young person reaches 18. Therefore the procedure set out in Section 4.2 of this document should still be followed for interim arrangements. 

5.2 Procedure for extending placements

For young people living in foster care, the first statutory review following the young person’s 16th birthday should consider whether a Staying Put placement may be an option. The young person’s Pathway Plan prior to the young person’s 16th birthday should identify the timescale required for them to move to independence and should be used as the framework for beginning to explore the following issues:

5.2.1 For the Young Person

  • Is it likely that the young person wish to remain Staying Put when they reach their 18th birthday;
  • Does the young person understand their financial and benefit responsibilities associated with remaining in a Staying Put arrangement;
  • What is the Parallel Plan for the young person should the Staying Put arrangement not be a viable. option for both parties;
  • When carrying out an assessment of an Eligible Young Person’s 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 young person and the local authority foster parent wish to make a Staying Put arrangement, then the local authority must provide such advice, assistance and support to facilitate a Staying Put arrangement.

5.2.2 For the Foster Carer

  • Does the foster carer/s understand the criteria for, and associated procedures for extending a foster placement into a Staying Put arrangement;
  • Does the foster carer/s understand the changes in their funding arrangements associated with a Staying Put arrangement;
  • Does the foster carer/s understand the impact of a Staying Put arrangement on their welfare benefit income and on their Income Tax And National Insurance responsibilities and liabilities.

5.2.3 For all parties concerned

  • Staying Put arrangements must be agreed by both the young person and the foster carers. Advice about the differences between a foster placement and a Staying Put arrangement should be given to the young person and carers by the 16+ Team and the Fostering Service, in order for both parties to make an informed decision about proceeding with the arrangement;
  • Agreement must be reached by the young person’s Looked After Review at 17 ½ years to enable sufficient time for planning and support preparation.

To ensure sufficient time is available to make the necessary planning arrangements for extending a placement beyond a young person’s 18th birthday, a Care Team Meeting should take place as part of the pathway planning process no less than 6 months before their 18th birthday. The Care Team Meeting should include the foster carer/s, foster carer support worker, 16 + team social worker and staying put social worker, and should establish whether a staying put arrangement is suitable and appropriate. The meeting should identify all key tasks, roles and responsibilities related to extending the fostering arrangement. The meeting should explore the impact of a Staying Put arrangement on the foster carers’ financial circumstances. The Staying Put arrangement should be reviewed at all subsequent Pathway Planning Review meetings.

5.3 Monitoring and Review Arrangements

Any proposed Staying Put Arrangements will be considered and discussed at the young person’s Looked after Review prior to their 16th birthday. At this Looked after Review, the Pathway Plan will be started. The first Pathway Plan has to be completed within 3 months of the young person’s 16th birthday.

All subsequent reviews will be Pathway Plan Reviews and chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) until the young person reaches 18. Thereafter, Pathway Plans will be reviewed by the team manager.

It would be appropriate to invite the Staying Put nominated person to a review if this accommodation/living arrangement is an option.

A review can be arranged earlier when any situation or need is identified by agreement between the young person, carers, and the professionals involved.

The young person and carers can also access advice at other times from the 16+ Team social worker and the Staying Put supervising social worker.

Whilst fostering regulations no longer formally apply when a young person reaches the age of 18, the following standards should continue to govern the expectations of the Staying Put arrangement in line with Supported Lodgings policies, if there are no other foster placements within the home:

5.4 Police Checks

If the former carer is going to continue to provide placements as a foster carer, the young person in the Staying Put arrangement will need to have a DBS check as they become an adult living in the home. This will require sensitive management and sensible negotiation. If the former carers are still registered as foster carers the DBS checks will continue routinely.

5.5 Professional Roles

The allocated social worker / Personal Advisor will continue to provide support to the young person throughout the Staying Put process. They will complete Pathway Plans and support the young person within the new arrangement with the former foster carers. The 16+ Team will ensure that the young person understands the terms of the Staying Put agreement. This may include reinforcing what the young person is expected to purchase from their income maintenance or welfare benefits and/or supporting the young person to apply for relevant funding and benefits.

If other children are in placement, the supervising social worker will continue to provide support to the carer for those children. The Staying Put supervising social worker will support the carer to understand the nature of the Staying Put arrangement and their entitlement to funding, and advise the carer about their changing role with the young person under the Staying Put arrangement. They will also monitor and review the placement.

Note: Where a Staying Put arrangement is in place, the local authority, where appropriate, may consider delegating part of the Personal Adviser function to the foster carer (See Leaving Care and Transition Procedure, Personal Advisers).

5.6 Financial Arrangements

5.6.1 Staying Put Allowances

Payment to the Foster Carer for a Staying Put Arrangement will be £150 per week. This payment will cover accommodation, support, utilities and all food costs. If the young person is in higher education and is not living at the foster carer’s home during term time, a retainer fee will be paid instead – see e) below:

  1. In a situation where a young person is 18 and completing their final year of school or college, and is eligible for a Staying Put arrangement with their carer (i.e. after the academic year), the carer will continue to be paid at the fostering rate until the end of the academic year, the Staying Put rate will commence;
  2. Young people are entitled to claim welfare benefits where appropriate. Exceptions to this are in relation to asylum seeker status;
  3. The young person will be responsible for payment of clothing/travel passes and personal toiletries;
  4. For young people who are engaging in an apprenticeship or traineeship or a part time job and earn in the region of £100 plus, the carer and the young person may wish to discuss contributions to their Staying Put carer. The discussion will need to involve the social worker. Any contributions made to the foster carer by the young person will be deducted from the £150 weekly Staying Put fee payable to the carer;
  5. For young people who are attending university away from home i.e. are staying in halls of residence or university accommodation, their foster carer can be paid a retainer fee of £81 per week. This is on condition that the young person is returning to the foster carer’s home during holidays and occasional weekends. This will be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure the young person is returning home and the room is retained for their benefit.

5.6.2 Support for care leavers who attend higher education

Newcastle City Council will provide ongoing additional support to the young person if they have entered into higher education in accordance with the agreed timescale set out within the young person’s Pathway Plan. The City Council may disregard any interruption to the young person’s outlined plan regarding higher education, provided they are satisfied that the young person will resume it as soon as is reasonably practicable.

Support and assistance will be provided in the following areas:

  • Accommodation Costs (Not applicable if Staying Put): Newcastle City Council will pay (reasonable) accommodation fees if the Young Person is living independently. This may be in halls of residence or in more independent accommodation such as a shared flat or house. Funding for the cost of water rates will also be provided, if this is applicable;
  • Maintenance Support: Newcastle City Council will provide the young person with regular financial assistance, which will help towards the young person’s ongoing maintenance costs. The amount of assistance we will provide will be dependent upon the young person’s individual circumstances and their needs. A maximum weekly amount of £30 will be paid to students who are living independently, and a maximum weekly amount of £20.00 will be paid to students who continue to live in placements specifically extended to cater for involvement in higher education;
  • Travel Costs: Newcastle City Council will also assist the young person with travel costs and will pay reasonable travel expenses, such as bus pass or metro pass between their accommodation and university (applicable to young people not living with former foster carer). We will also help the young person with travel costs from their university to return home to their former foster carer for short breaks or for holiday periods, should the young person attend a university elsewhere in the country. At the beginning of each academic year the young person’s social worker should establish and agree with the young person their anticipated travel costs for the forthcoming year;
  • Higher Education Bursary and Other Financial Incentives: Newcastle City Council will provide the young person with a one-off £2,000 Higher Education Bursary. This Bursary will be given to the young person at agreed times during their course, which will be discussed and agreed with the young person in advance of them starting their course. The City Council may withhold payment of any unpaid balance of the Higher Education Bursary during any period when the Young Person is not pursuing higher education in accordance with their Pathway Plan. The City Council will also help and support the Young Person to maximise any further bursaries/financial incentives that individual universities may be able to offer the Young Person because of their care experiences. The City Council has close links with universities in the North East Region and is in regular contact with those responsible for supporting young people who are care experienced, within those individual universities;
  • Student Finance: We would expect the young person to take out a tuition fees loan via Student Finance England to pay for their tuition fees, and we will help the young person to understand how to do this. The repayment of the tuition fees loan will be the young person’s responsibility and will be re-paid in accordance with central government policy. The City Council would expect the young person to take out a Maintenance Loan via Student Finance England, to meet their general day to day living expenses. The level of loan taken out could be reduced in recognition of the weekly financial assistance being provided by Newcastle City Council, if so desired. The repayment of the maintenance loan will be the young person’s responsibility and will be re-paid in accordance with central government policy. A maintenance grant should also be awarded to the young person by Student Loans England as part of maintenance loan process. This is a grant which does not need to be repaid;
  • Ongoing Assistance: Newcastle City Council will commit to any agreed package of financial support being provided to the young person for the full duration of their course, whether the young person’s course is a three year or a four year degree course. Additional discussion will be required before funding for highly specialized degree courses, such as medicine or dentistry, can be agreed. The effectiveness of any support package being provided to the young person will be reviewed on a six monthly basis as part of their Pathway Plan Reviews. The young person’s social worker will continue to provide ongoing assistance and support, and will liaise closely with an identified member of the university staff, such as a personal tutor, to ensure that an appropriate level of support is being made available. Additional support with costs, associated with specialist requirements for particular courses, need to be discussed on an individual basis with the young person’s social worker.

5.6.3 Financial Arrangements for young people with disabilities:

  • Payment to the foster carer will be £385 per week. This is line with the payment to carers under the Shared Lives Scheme in Adult Services;
  • The young person will be expected to claim full benefits including housing benefit;
  • In line with arrangements in Adults Services, the young person will be expected to contribute £112.90 per week towards the placement, and will be assessed on further contribution of between £11 and £20 per week.

5.6.4 Income Tax and National Insurance Issues for Staying Put Arrangements

Where young people remain living with their former foster carer/s under a Staying Put arrangement, the income tax and national insurance framework and liabilities that apply are set out in the new “Shared Lives Carers” Guidance.

All foster carers and Staying Put carers must register as self-employed.

The ‘Shared Lives’ - ‘Qualifying Care Relief Guidance’ sets out that Staying Put carers receive tax exemptions up to a given qualifying amount for each young person living with them. The Staying Put qualifying rate mirrors the system and amounts that applied when the placement was previously a foster care placement.

The Treatment of Benefits (23c Children Act 1989, Continuing functions in respect of former relevant children):

  • Where a young person remains living with their former foster carer after their 18th birthday and the child was looked after immediately prior to their 18th birthday and all the payment for the “Staying Put” arrangement comes from the local authority children’s services (from section 23C), the payment is disregarded in calculating the carers entitlement to welfare benefits;
  • The section 23c disregard only applies where a familial arrangement is in place, and the young person continues to live with their former foster carer and was looked after immediately prior to their 18th birthday;
  • Section 23c disregard is lost when a young person leaves the placement and is not covered if they return during vacations;
  • If any part of the payment comes from any source other than Section 23c, the disregard is lost.

5.7 End of Placements

Planning will be undertaken to ensure the young person can move on into suitable accommodation. This should be reviewed and planned accordingly within the Pathway Plan Review Meetings.

The Staying Put arrangements will end when the young person becomes 21 or when they have completed their relevant course as agreed within the young person’s Pathway Plan.

The Staying Put arrangements can be ended before the young person's 21st birthday, by the young person or foster carer giving relevant notice. The licence agreement allows for the ending of the arrangement with 28 days notice or for a serious breach of the agreement. (See License agreement detailing process).


6. Supported Lodgings Policy

6.1 Eligibility

Young people can be placed in supported lodgings if they:

  • Vulnerable 16-17 year olds estranged from family members who do not wish to be Looked After (under the Southwark judgement) but who do not have the skills and abilities to live independently;
  • 16-17 year olds who have been in foster care/residential care and who do not wish to remain in their placement and who do not have the skills and abilities to live independently. This arrangement would have to be made with the young person’s consent;
  • 16+ who, due to their vulnerability (are at risk of exploitation) are not capable of living independently;
  • Young people aged 18+ who were residential care and who meet the vulnerability criteria.

The above criteria include unaccompanied young people.

The scheme works with young people who may:

  • Be vulnerable or emotionally needy;
  • Have some mild learning difficulties or mental health issues;
  • Have committed minor offences;
  • Have minor issues related to drug or alcohol misuse.

Supported Lodgings are generally less suitable for those young people who:

  • Are currently and persistently engaged in criminal activity;
  • Are involved in escalating, potentially serious drugs, alcohol or are substance misusing. A clear deterioration in the overall situation, characterised by an increase in use of abusive substances, evidence of beginning to inject, using a cocktail of drugs, poor level of self-awareness, loss of self-control, and health related problems;
  • Are involved in serious incidents of self-harm. Consideration needs to be given to the nature of the incident, pattern of behaviour, seriousness of incident, level of self-awareness, and the likelihood of repeated action;
  • Whose violence or abusive behaviour or mental health difficulties place themselves or others at serious risk or in danger. Consideration needs to be given to individual psychological difficulties or presenting diagnosable mental health problems, the level of verbal, emotional, physical and sexual aggression that constitutes a risk to the young person and others;
  • Are involved in exploitative sexual relationships other than prostitution. Consideration needs to be given to the level of emotional needs, physical aggression and seriously undermining effect of long term bullying and exploitation;
  • Require additional care from the nature of physical, emotional or intellectual disabilities and/or are unable to communicate situations of abuse or harm and the possibility of exploitation.

Although placements may not be suitable for young people within these categories, placements may be set up for young people with specialist needs, depending on the individual situation.

As far as possible, Supported Lodgings should be accessible to all young people who meet the eligibility criteria.

6.1 Placement Procedure

  1. The young person’s need for accommodation is identified through their Pathway Plan by the young person’s allocated social worker;
  2. The young person’s social worker should discuss the possibility of a Supported Lodgings placement with Supported Lodgings staff in the first instance;
  3. The young person’s social worker will complete a referral and risk assessment to the Supported Lodgings team;
  4. The young person will be interviewed and an application form and needs/risk assessment completed by the Supported Lodgings team;
  5. The matching process will be carried out by matching the young person to a suitable and available placement. Once the placement is identified, introduction meetings will be carried out. Following this, a matching meeting document will be completed and signed by all parties;
  6. On move in, the License Agreement and housing benefit application (if required) will be completed. An Information pack will be given to the young person which includes information on complaints, support, review and equal opportunities. The  Licence Agreement is the agreement between the Supported Lodgings Scheme and the young person (licensee), granting the licensee permission to stay in the property and setting out the terms of the agreement, for example, that the young person will pay rent and the carer will provide access to the accommodation and keep it in good repair;
  7. The first placement review will be carried out one month after the start of the placement. The placement plan will be completed. Copies of the review document and the placement plan will be given to the young person and the carer;
  8. Placement reviews will be carried out on a quarterly basis, during which the support plan will be reviewed and targets will be agreed. Reviews will be user led and based on outcomes highlighted by young person. The review will require input from the young person’s support network, including their carer and other professionals. Any concerns raised by either party will be documented on the review form.

6.2 Financial Arrangements

Carers under a Supported Lodgings agreement will receive a payment of £150 per week, to include provision of two meals per day for the young person.

If the young person is eligible for housing benefit, they will be expected to contribute £12.50 per week to their carer. In these circumstances, Newcastle City Council will deduct this contribution from the payment to the carer, so that the carer receives a net payment of £137.50 from the City Council.

Where housing benefit is applied, the Council will also claim the landlord element of housing benefit from the Department of Work and Pensions (set at approximately £58 per week), to be paid directly into Supported Lodgings.

6.3 End of Placements

If carers, young people or staff think that a placement is not working, they should raise their concerns with the young person’s social worker and the Supported Lodgings Team as soon as possible. Further support may be required to help support the young person and carer in the placement.

If it is agreed that further support will not be enough to keep the placement going successfully, the Supported Lodgings staff and/or young person’s social worker will look for alternative accommodation.

The carer or young person can voluntarily terminate the placement at any time by giving two weeks notice.

6.4 Unplanned placements

Disruption is more likely when assessments of a young person or of carers, matching, and placement agreements are incomplete; or when support to the young person or to the carer is inadequate. These situations are more likely with unplanned or immediate placements. It is therefore crucial that as full information as possible is gathered by Supported Lodgings staff and is shared with Carers, with the assistance of the young person’s social worker.

6.5 Warning Procedure

This will operate in all cases where a placement has had to cease due to the behaviour of the young person, except in situations where it is clearly untenable for the young person and carer to continue to live together for even a short period of time. Such situations would include:

  • Instances of violence or other seriously inappropriate behaviour;
  • Gross invasion of privacy;
  • Serious malicious damage or theft.

Should any of the above occur, we would normally try to end the placement within 24 hours, however we would still follow the procedure below.

6.5.1 Verbal warning

A discussion will be had with the young person around the areas of concern and will look at ways of changing the problem behaviour and other solutions. The consequences of continued non compliance will be stated very clearly (i.e. eviction). This will be recorded on file as a verbal warning.

6.5.2 Written warning

A written warning will be issued upon repeated poor behaviour, following the initial verbal warning. The letter will include:

  • An explanation of why the written warning has been issued;
  • An explanation on what will happen if the license agreement continues to be broken;
  • How long the warning will remain on file;
  • This will be recorded on file as a written warning.

6.5.3 Final written warning

This will be issued following further poor behaviour, following the issue of the first written warning.

The letter will confirm that the young person has been issued with a final warning and that a notice to quit the placement will be issued if the license agreement is broken again.

The letter will include:

  • An explanation of why the final written warning has been issued;
  • An explanation that a Notice to Quit will be issued if the license agreement continues to be broken;
  • How long the warning will remain on file;
  • This will be recorded on file as a final written warning.

6.5.4 Notice to Quit

Following failed attempts to improve the situation and the behaviour of the young person, a letter will be sent to the young person to confirm that a notice to quit is in operation and that the young person will have to leave their placement. The letter will contain:

  • Reason(s) for the eviction;
  • Date and time by which the young person has to move out and remove their belongings from the placement;
  • Offers of help to move belongings and arrange emergency accommodation;
  • Right to appeal against the decision and details of the appeals procedure.

All warnings will remain active for a period of six months, after which they will be removed from the evictions record. All warnings with be recorded in the young persons file, stating the date of issue, date of expiry and reason for warning.

End