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3.11.1 Support for Care Leavers – Succeeding into Adulthood


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The Legal Framework
  3. Succeeding into Adult Care Service
  4. Pathway Planning at 16
  5. Allocation and Role of the Personal Advisor (PA)
  6. Employment and Training
  7. Independent Living
  8. Financial Support
  9. Support for Post 18 Education
  10. Health

    Appendix 1: Definitions of Categories of Children Entitled to Leaving Care Support


1. Introduction

This document sets out the considerable range of services available for Southwark's Looked After Children to support their preparation for independence by enabling confident and sound transition into adulthood.

In October 2012 the DfE produced the Care Leavers Charter, a set of principles and promises designed by care leavers which guide how services should be delivered for care leavers.

Southwark Council endorses these promises in support of our care leavers:

  • To respect and honour your identity;
  • To believe in you;
  • To listen to you;
  • To inform you;
  • To support you;
  • To find you a home;
  • To be a lifelong champion.

Following this, in 2013, the DfE produced the cross-departmental Care Leaver Strategy. Based on the principles of good Corporate Parenting this strategy calls for all those delivering support to care leavers to provide holistic and quality support to enable young people to live fulfilling lives as independent adults.

Our Children and Young People’s Plan sets out our vision for children, young people and families in the borough; that “ Every child, young person and family in Southwark thrives and is empowered to lead a safe and healthy life. We will work together to deliver high-quality services that make a measurable difference in helping to overcome inequality and disadvantage, and strengthen families’ abilities to raise their children successfully and independently.”

The Plan was developed following consultation with our communities and workforce when we asked them to tell us about a story or journey they had in Southwark. More than 1,300 children, young people, parents, carers, staff and practitioners responded. These journeys have shaped our plan for local services.

The priority areas in the delivery of the strategy are: Best Start, Safety and Stability and Choice and Control.

In the delivery of services for our care leavers we are guided by the charter and the principles in the strategies. We will:

  • Listen and act on concerns raised;
  • Keep young people actively involved in plans and decision making for their future;
  • Ensure care leavers have safe and stable accommodation, are able to live independently and sustain tenancies;
  • Advise care leavers about their entitlements and provide financial support;
  • Support them to continue in education, access training that meets their career plans and find suitable jobs;
  • Help them to access health provision where this is required;
  • Provide continued support through a dedicated Personal Adviser.


2. The Legal Framework

2.1 The main aim of the Care Leavers Regulations and the Planning transition to adulthood for care leavers statutory guidance (Jan, 2015) is to make sure that care leavers are provided with comprehensive personal support so that they achieve their potential as they make their transition to adulthood. The guidance is clear that Care leavers should expect the same level of care and support that others would expect from a reasonable parent. The local authority responsible for their care should make sure that they are provided with the opportunities they need, which will include offering them more than one chance as they grapple with taking on the responsibilities of adulthood.
2.2

The Children and Young Persons Act 2008 (‘the 2008 Act’) amended the 1989 Children’s Act so that:

  • Looked after children must not move from accommodation regulated under the Care Standards Act 2000 to other arrangements without a statutory Review of their Care Plan chaired by their Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO). A move to other arrangements would include moving to accommodation, often referred to as semi-independent accommodation, which would not be subject to regulatory inspection by Ofsted. (Children do not cease to be looked after just because they are placed in accommodation that is not regulated under the Care Standards Act.)
  • Local authorities must pay a Higher Education Bursary (see 'Extra money to pay for university', GOV.UK) to certain Former Relevant children.
  • Care leavers under the age of 25 who wish to take up a programme of education or training will have an entitlement to resume support from a Personal Adviser (PA) appointed by the local authority previously responsible for providing their leaving care support.
2.3 As such Southwark has a legal duty to support young people after they leave care at the age of 18 in employment, education and training until they reach the age of 21. This can be extended until the age of 25 if the young person is in continuing education or training (or resource an agreed education or training pathway "previously" outlined and agreed in the needs assessment and Pathway Plan).
2.4 Care leavers, up to their 25th birthday, who tell the local authority they have returned, or want to return to education or training are entitled to an assessment of their needs. This could mean care leavers access support from the local authority for education or training. The local authority should carry out an assessment of need within 3 months of the young person requesting support.


3. Succeeding into Adulthood Care Service

3.1

This document describes the framework and detailed information for social workers, young people in care, Independent Reviewing Officers, care leavers, Personal Advisers and service partners.

The main service areas contained are as follows:

  1. Pathway planning at 16;
  2. Allocation and role of the personal advisor;
  3. Employment and training;
  4. Independent Living;
  5. Financial support;
  6. Support for post 18 education;
  7. Health.


4. Pathway Planning at 16

4.1 Each young person in care has a needs assessment and Pathway Plan drawn (see Planning for Children and Young People: Pathway Plans including Needs Assessment - Practice Guidance) up with their social worker at the age of 16. Young people need to be fully involved in developing and reviewing their Pathway Plan every six months with their Independent Reviewing Officer and the involvement of their social worker, placement/carer and significant others. Reviews will be held on time with clear SMART targets to deliver the progress and outcomes required. The Pathway Plan at 16 (including the young person's needs assessment) is the foundation document which outlines the priorities and plan to assist the young person in care succeeding into adulthood. This plan should outline the young person's needs with regards to education, employment, training, health, independent living skills and post 18 aspirations.
4.2

To support Education / Employment and Training, the following areas should be addressed in the Needs Assessment and Pathway Plan:

  • Statement of the young person's aspirations and career ambitions and actions and support to achieve this;
  • Access to careers advice;
  • Education objectives and support - continued use of the young person's Personal Education Plan;
  • Arrangements to support the young person in further education and/or higher education;
  • Support to enable suitably qualified young people to enter apprenticeships, make applications to university or gain desired qualifications;
  • Clarify the roles of the Personal Adviser, social worker and all other professionals involved in delivering support.
4.3 Arrangements for work experience, career mentoring or pathways into employment etc. When carrying out an assessment of needs, the local authority must determine whether it would be appropriate to provide advice, assistance and support to facilitate a Staying Put arrangement. Where they determine that it would be appropriate, and where the child and the local authority foster parent wish to make a Staying Put arrangement, then the local authority must provide such advice, assistance and support to facilitate a Staying Put arrangement (see Section 7.7, Staying Put in Fostering). Staying Put should be discussed initially at 16 years when completing the needs assessment and preparing the Pathway Plan.
4.4 Pathway planning must continue for all Former Relevant Children (i.e. from 18). The plan will be reviewed every 6 months from 18 to 21 years as many young people at university will be living away from their home area and previous carers and support networks, the Pathway Plan for each individual care leaver must set out what practical support they can expect. These arrangements should include the level and frequency of contact with their Personal Adviser.
4.5 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.
4.6 Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) will continue to review the Pathway Plans when the young person is aged 16 to 18 years. In some circumstances IRO's may continue to chair Pathway Plans where transition to independence is complex, for example because of a significant disability or behavioural problem. In this situation the IRO can continue to review the plan for a further year having first consulted with the QAU service manager.
4.7 If a young person is not in agreement with their Pathway Plan they should first try to resolve this with their Personal Adviser. If this is not possible or appropriate they can contact the Personal Adviser's manager direct.


5. Allocation and Role of the Personal Advisor (PA)

5.1 Young people will be introduced to a Personal Adviser (PA) from the age of 16. Working alongside the allocated social worker for 6 months the PA will ensure the key elements of the transition of the Pathway Plan are delivered. From 18 the PA's role is to advise, assist and befriend the care leaver until they reach the age of 21 or 25 if they are continuing in higher education activities. This is a key leadership role in ensuring care leavers are making a positive contribution in the adult world, remain healthy, achieve economic well being and remain living in suitable accommodation.
5.2 The PA is expected to meet the care leaver at their place of residence at least every 8 weeks as a minimum standard. The meeting record is included in Pathway Plan supervision. The PA is expected to provide clear advice and guidance concerning the benefit system, grants and awards schemes. Where necessary, the PA will provide input to resolve issues regarding status, parenting and maintaining family contact.


6. Employment and Training

Southwark Apprenticeship Scheme

6.1 In partnership with Southwark's Organisational Development team, the Care Service has developed a protocol to enable care leavers to fully access the Council's apprenticeship scheme. The protocol has clear targets with regards to Southwark's care leavers accessing apprenticeship placements as a percentage of all apprenticeships on offer. To support this process, each year the Care Service deliver a short preparation course for those care leavers who wish to apply for a Southwark apprenticeship.

Southwark Works

6.2 Southwark Works’ is the council’s employment programme. It provides access to a range of employment and training opportunities for residents who require additional support to access local job opportunities. The Care Service has an active partnership with Southwark Works. A dedicated Employment Advisor is based in the Care Service and provides guidance and support to help care leavers access employment and training opportunities as part of the Southwark Works network. In partnership with the Personal Adviser and the Looked After Children Education Team, the employment adviser identifies the young people who do not have firm plans and directly intervene to help young people clarify their pathways and access relevant support. Employment and training outcomes are monitored as part of the statutory return to the government.

Youth Fund

6.3 Through the Council’s Youth Fund additional intensive employment support is available through the Getting Ready for Work Project to young people aged 18-24 who have been in Local Authority care to increase their confidence and employability through a range of interventions. This project is part of the Inspired to Work programme delivered by Inspire at St Peter’s.

The Southwark Enterprise and Employment Development Scheme (SEEDS)

6.4

SEEDS supports businesses to give a young person who’s had a challenging start in life a chance at employment. SEEDS offers a wage subsidy of up to 50% as well as free mentoring and support for the young person. In exchange businesses must offer a 12 month contract either as an apprentice or an employee with payment at London Living Wage. SEEDS is delivered by Tree Shepherd, see:

Facilities

6.5 The Care Service is located at Talfourd Place in Peckham. The facilities available at Talfourd Place include a specially designed suite of rooms to support group work and employment, education and training activities. This includes a bespoke IT facility to enable partnership activity with, health providers, Employment Advisers and the Looked After Children Education Team.


7. Independent Living

Housing Protocol

7.1

Under leaving care legislation, local authorities are required to provide suitable accommodation for all care leavers. For most care leavers in London this results in care leavers being allocated a house of multiple occupation or a temporary tenancy in the private market. Through Southwark's protocol with housing Southwark is able to offer a tenancy (twelve month probationary tenancy in keeping with all Southwark policy) at 18 which provides suitable accommodation at affordable rental costs.

For all young people who are deemed to be vulnerable at 18 and require additional support, Southwark housing allow the Care Service to have a designated number "supported accommodation" placements which provide up to 2 years supportive housing until the young person is ready and able to cope with their own tenancy. The protocol enables care leavers to access level 2 priority for Southwark housing at 18 - see Protocol for Joint Work between Housing and Children's Services.

Pathway Plans outline how placements and carers will provide advice and guidance on budgeting, cooking and paying bills. A range of accommodation options are available for young people to enable them to learn skills required for independent living.

Foster Carers are also required to deliver a range of activities and opportunities from the age of 16 to facilitate and develop young people obtaining life skills and awareness for the challenges of independent living.

If the young person is not ready to live independently then options may be available to extend arrangements beyond 18 to provide further input and support (through supported accommodation or Staying Put schemes - see Section 6.7, Staying Put in Fostering.

The Care Service has identified a number of significant initiatives to assist young people to develop their skills between the age of 16 and 18, these being:

  • Required bank account from 16;
  • Direct payment of personal allowances into bank account for all 17 year olds;
  • Access to an Employment Adviser and the LAC Education Team to develop employment and further education routes;
  • Support to develop skills for independence;
  • Special programmes run by providers (managing a tenancy avoiding eviction, distress to neighbours etc.);
  • During their 17th year, if a young person has not succeeded in accessing employment, education and training or other positive activities and will not engage with their placement, social worker and Personal Adviser and key worker, a special review will be required to address the issues and reach a formal agreement about the best way forward. In such cases there will be a clear peer agreement document which will be signed by young person, placement and Care Service at 17 outlining the core offer (see Pathway Plan and core offer) of support towards employment, education and training, independence training and suitable accommodation. This requires commitment from the young person and workers to do all they can to ensure the care leaver is fully prepared to leave care and live independently.

Private tenancies (may sometimes be a house of multiple occupation) are also used for unaccompanied minor care leavers and other care leavers who have no access to public funds due to immigration status. This is very much seen as a temporary arrangement post 18 pending determination of legal status. As soon as legal status is determined (permanent leave to remain) then the care leaver is able to access a council tenancy under the care leaver/housing protocol.

Southwark is committed to ensuring that all care leavers have appropriate accommodation and more importantly, are able to develop the skills to successfully manage their own living environment.

To provide a flexible and tailored service post 18 for all care leavers Southwark has identified a range of service partnerships to enable young people to assume independence when they are able to best manage this. These are as follows:

Council Tenancy

7.2

The protocol allows care leavers to access their own tenancy through a housing priority nomination system whereby the care leaver can bid on line to identify the tenancy of their own choice. This arrangement is based upon a clear assessment and demonstration that the young person is equipped to manage their own council tenancy, including relationships with neighbours and the local community. The banding of care leavers is sufficiently high so that young people can usually be allocated an accommodation within eight weeks of receiving their bidding number (unless they are being extremely limited with regards to their location/type of preferred accommodation).

The protocol also enables care leavers to access this arrangement at any time up to the age of 21. This enables young people to confidently attend university or to opt to "Stay Put" with their foster carers by agreement whilst they gain additional self confidence and independent skills.

Likewise young people may require additional time living in a "supporting accommodation" environment where they can acquire additional skills and then can make a successful transition to having their own tenancy.

It should be noted that the initial tenancy is awarded under a 12 month licence agreement, subject to the care leaver demonstrating a capacity to manage rental payments and appropriate community/tenancy boundaries.

It should also be recognised that the allocation of a council tenancy is not a "right" or legal requirement. The regulation is clear that care leavers should be offered "suitable accommodation". This does not automatically mean a council tenancy.

Council Tenancy Access Criteria

7.3

The Care Service values the partnership with Housing greatly and therefore are clear that young people approaching the age of 18 must be able to demonstrate their willingness and capacity to manage their own tenancy. In partnership with placement providers and foster carers, the social worker will develop a plan with the young person to develop their independence skills in readiness for living in their own accommodation post 18.

There may be some circumstances however where it will be recognised that the care leaver is not ready or able to undertake or manage this responsibility and that a further period of preparation will be required. Accordingly the following criteria have been developed to guide the circumstances where a young person might not be deemed ready to assume their own Southwark council tenancy.

These are as follows:

  • Convicted of a relevant sexual offence;
  • Attending university (HE) and residing in lodgings/halls until completion of course;
  • Unlikely to manage their own tenancy (despite independence training prior to 18) and therefore requiring a transition plan involving supported accommodation (or transitions panel including the involvement of Adult Social Care Services given the young person's significant needs);
  • The young person has exhibited conduct which would render it unsafe (for themselves or others) to have a tenancy (likelihood of eviction, damage, distress to neighbours etc.).

Supported Accommodation (Prevention and Inclusion)

7.4

The Prevention and Inclusion programme funds the delivery of housing-related support services for young people and care leavers in Southwark. This includes supported accommodation, a foyer and floating support provision. The aim of services is to support individuals to develop the necessary life skills to live as independently as possible within the community.

Supporting people options should be identified as part of the Pathway Plan well before the young person obtains the age of 18 thereby helping the young person make positive choices with regards to the most appropriate supporting people programme and to understand the milestones required for them to be able to manage their own council tenancy.

Under the current scheme supportive accommodation is available for care leavers for a period of time determined by their Pathway Plan (to determine accommodation needs and ‘move on’ plans at key stages of development) where the young person has a protected living environment and weekly access to a support person. This enables the young person to have a longer period of time to develop the necessary skills to live independently, if this is identified in their plan during this period the care leaver will have access to a Personal Adviser and their Pathway Plan will be reviewed every six months.

Private Tenancy

7.5 

There are occasions where a care leaver may request a private tenancy. Most often this occurs when a young person has resided in a foster placement outside of London and has made a positive choice to continue to reside in the area close to their extended social network and foster family.

Southwark's placement team will work with a number of current preferred providers to develop a specially commissioned tenancy which meets the care leaver's needs (within housing benefit rates). This option needs to be identified well before the young person's 18th birthday to enable sufficient time for the placements team to work with the care leaver in identifying an appropriate tenancy at 18.

Semi Independent Living Services

Semi-Independent Living Services provide accommodation and support to young people aged 16-18 who are looked after. Young people will initially access services which have 24 hour staff cover with 14 hours per week. There is also provision for young parents and children and youth offenders. Semi-independents have also been asked to source accommodation only for people with No Recourse to Public Funds.

No Recourse to Public Funds

7.6

Private tenancies (may sometimes be a house of multiple occupation) are also used for unaccompanied minors care leavers and other care leavers who have no access to public funds due to immigration status. This is very much seen as a temporary arrangement post 18 pending determination of legal status. As soon as legal status is determined (i.e. permanent leave to remain) then the care leaver is able to access a council tenancy under the care leaver/housing protocol.

Care leavers who are previously unaccompanied minors or who have no recourse to public funds may not in some circumstances be able to claim Housing Benefit. This will also preclude them from accessing supported accommodation provision. In such circumstances the Care Service will engage providers to arrange post 18 accommodation with additional support which, as far as possible, will match specialist supported accommodation arrangements. As soon as status is resolved then the care leaver is eligible for supported accommodation and state benefits which can broaden their options.

Staying Put in Fostering

7.7

Staying put is an arrangement which can, by mutual agreement between carer and care leaver, offer a young person the option of remaining for an extended period of time with their foster carer.

It should be noted that post-18 the carer has a different role with regard to the care leaver. The relationship will move from one of being a carer to one where they are a 'supportive accommodation and legal landlord'. This would represent a new phase of the carer/young person's relationship which would be focused upon enabling the young person to develop to the point of moving to the next stage of their life with greater confidence and skill. (See Southwark Staying Put Policy)

House in Multiple Occupation

7.8

A house in multiple occupation provides a bedsit/studio arrangement (with en suite arrangements) within a larger property at housing benefit at rates under a tenancy agreement.

Southwark will provide a "HMO" arrangement for care leavers in the following circumstances:

  • Care leavers with no recourse to public funds;
  • Care leavers who have not been able to respond constructively to staying put or supporting arrangements;
  • Care leavers who have been previously evicted from a council tenancy, semi independent placement or private tenancy or supported accommodation arrangement;
  • Care leavers who are in foster placement but who are not bidding regularly/appropriately (over an extended period leading the foster carer to ask for a young person to leave - staying put allowance applies post 18).

Supported Lodgings Scheme

7.9 In some circumstances the care leaver may decide with their personal adviser that as part of their Pathway Plan a supported lodgings arrangement would provide the best balance of increased independence whilst remaining in a supporting home environment. Southwark's commissioning services will seek to link with established schemes which can match care leavers with supported lodging arrangements at (H.B rates).


8. Financial Support

8.1

The Care Service provides a range of interventions and training inputs to build the relevant knowledge, skills and resilience of care leavers to effectively manage their finances.

Bank accounts and direct payments for looked after children

8.2

All 16 & 17 year olds in care should have their own bank account (unless legal status precludes this) and will be supported to obtain this.

In addition all personal allowances are paid directly into bank accounts for all 17 year olds and will not be distributed by their foster carer or placement. This allows all 17 year olds the opportunity to practice using a bank account for a minimum of 12 months before reaching the age of 18. This will enable young people to become familiar with a regular income each week, how to read bank statements on line and how to anticipate expenditure and income variations.

Savings in preparation for leaving care

8.3 From March 2011 all young people in care aged 16 & 17 receive a weekly personal allowance of £45 (previously £55). This reduction in weekly allowance will produce an additional payment of £1,000 as part of leaving care support for looked after children who have been in care from the age of 16.

Leaving Care Grant

8.4 The leaving care grant is £2,000. The leaving care grant is available for the care leaver to equip their first home. This does not necessarily have to be accessed at 18 as some young people may defer setting up home until they have completed higher education or received additional support through Staying Put or supported accommodation The Pathway Plan will determine how the leaving care grant will be allocated. The personal adviser will work the care leaver to offer advice and guidance as to their requirements and best value.

Emergency Payments and Debt Management

8.5 If a young person falls into arrears with utilities, Council Tax or rent there is a special programme available through the Housing Department where the care leaver will receive additional support. This scheme can be triggered to work alongside the care leaver to reduce their arrears and avoid the situation deteriorating further. Allocated personal advisers are required to be well informed about the benefits system and how to access loans and grants where appropriate. Care leavers are aware that if they are experiencing real difficulty with their finances they can be issued with an emergency payment by the Care Service to provide temporary support while negotiations are held with benefits agencies, utilities or landlords.
8.6 In exceptional circumstances a Personal Adviser may make an application to the Practice Group Lead for their group in the first instance to consider a one off Section 24 discretionary payment. There are occasions where care leavers may get into debt because of unforeseen circumstances or genuine confusion with Housing Benefit schemes or trying to negotiate the maze of regulations when attempting to work part time (impact on benefits, housing benefit etc.). Exceptional one off payments may be sought to enable creditors (usually landlords or utilities) to defer implementing legal proceedings against a care leaver.
8.7  The Panel is the decision making forum to avoid looked after children being evicted as a result of significant arrears. This is only used as a last resort as the personal advisor would usually intervene to ensure that all payments (plus small payments to cover arrears) are made directly to the landlord or utility provider.

Risk of eviction

8.8

The main reason why a care leaver might be evicted from their accommodation would be as a result of unacceptable behaviour (involving neighbours), significant damage being caused to the property, often caused by visitors invited in by the young person, or non payment of rent Through effective Pathway Planning we will work to ensure young people are well supported and contingency plans are in place if things go wrong. We will work in partnership with Housing and other partners to reduce the risk of eviction and improve young people’s budgeting and independent living skills.


9. Support for post 18 Education

16-19 Bursaries

9.1

Students between 16 and 19 years in full time education or training may receive a bursary. Students most in need will be eligible to receive a maximum bursary of £1,200 a year.

This group includes:

  • People in care;
  • Care leavers;
  • People claiming income support;
  • Disabled young people who receive Employment Support Allowance and Disability Living Allowance.

Schools, colleges and training providers will be responsible for awarding bursaries to students. They will also decide when bursaries are paid, and will set conditions that students should meet to receive a bursary, for example, linked to behaviour or attendance.

Click here for more information about the 16-19 Bursary Fund.

Childcare Costs

The Care to Learn scheme may be available for parents in England who are under 20 when they start a course.

Looked after children (16-18) and care leavers (18-19) could get help with childcare costs through the Care to Learn scheme if they are in school sixth form, college or on a work-based learning programme.

The Care Service do not fund childcare costs.

Assistance with Transport Costs

Help with the cost of transport to and from college or sixth form (for 16-19 year olds) may be available. The looked after child or care leaver can apply to the local authority where they reside who may be able to help with costs. Qualification for help may depend upon age and the place of study.

To qualify for help from the local authority, young people must be aged 16 to 18, or continuing on a course that they started before their 19th birthday. In addition young people must go to one of the following:

  • A school sixth form;
  • A sixth form college;
  • A college of further education.

Each year, the local authority where the young person resides will publish a statement to show the support they could receive. The statement will have information on the services, discounts and concessions available in that area.

Under 19's who are in full-time education or work-based learning could also qualify for free transport on London buses and trams.

See Southwark's Policy.

Financial support for further education

Those care leavers who continue in their education through 6th form, FE College or an agreed training course will receive the following support:

  • Annual payment of £200 toward registration and Awarding body costs at the start of each academic year whilst on an agreed FE course for care leavers aged 19 and over;
  • Annual transport/bike grant of £300;
  • Provision of a laptop package at beginning of course £400.00 (supervised spend at PC World at outset of course and if not already provided);
  • Annual book and equipment allowance of - £100 - paid at the beginning of each academic year;
  • Allocation of personal advisor throughout course;
  • Full funding of required field trips;
  • Support in applying for appropriate funding (16-19 Bursary, ALG etc.).

Studying away from home

9.2

Young people could be entitled to extra help through government grants with their costs if they want to attend:

  • One of the 51 Specialist Residential Colleges or Centre's, which mainly offer courses in agriculture, horticulture and art and design;
  • Specialist courses beyond a daily travelling distance through a national Residential Pilot Scheme - this only applies where there is no course available locally.

Discretionary Learner Support Fund

The Discretionary Learner Support Fund is available from the FE College the young person is attending. The funds are prioritised for those who face financial hardship. They can be used to help with:

  • Financial hardship and emergencies;
  • Childcare costs (for Ofsted-registered childcare);
  • Accommodation costs, for those who have to study further than the maximum distance from home;
  • Essential course-related equipment, materials and field trips;
  • Travel costs (for over 18s).

For more information see: Discretionary Learner Support (GOV.UK website)

Career Development Loan (CDL)

A Professional and Career Development Loan is a bank loan. An agreement is made with a participating bank to borrow an amount between £300 and £10,000. Then once the young person has stopped studying, they pay it back in the normal way.

The difference with a Professional and Career Development Loan is that the Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA) pays the interest on the loan while the young person is studying - and for one month afterwards.

After this, the young person pays interest at the rate fixed when they took out the loan. Interest rates on the loans are set so they are competitive with other 'unsecured' personal loans that are commercially available.

Educational Grants Advisory Service

Some charities and trusts offer financial help, but their eligibility rules vary. The Educational Grants Advisory Service (EGAS) provides information and advice on sources of funding through their Directory, helpline and website. See Family Action website.

Useful publications

  • The Educational Grants Directory (published by the Directory of Social Change);
  • The Charities Digest (Waterlow Information Services);
  • The Grants Register (Macmillan Press);
  • The Directory of Grant Making Trusts (Charities Aid Foundation).

These publications should be available in local libraries.

Benefit Entitlement

Full-time students can't usually claim income-related benefits as well - but part-time students and certain groups of full-time students are sometimes eligible. However, the rules on eligibility can be complex, and whether young people in further education can get income-related benefits will depend on their personal circumstances.

So even if the young person belongs to a group which is eligible for income-related benefits, this doesn't necessarily mean they will get them as the income they get through student finance may be too high.

The college student adviser will be able to help work out if young people qualify for any benefits. The Personal Adviser will have good up to date information about benefits that are claimable for full and part time students (up to 16hrs per week). Both part time and full time students can make JSA claims during the term breaks; this is more practical for the summer break as a claim can take 4-6 weeks to be processed.

Income support - further education and training

Former relevant young people who remain 'estranged from their family' can claim Income Support on the grounds of being in 'Relevant Education' from his/her 18th birthday until his/her 21st birthday as long as they started or were enrolled or accepted on the course prior to his/her 19th birthday.

The education/training course must be below higher education level and be full time (at least 12 hours of contact time). Lone parents and sick and disabled young people under certain circumstances may continue to be eligible to claim means tested welfare benefits whilst studying full time further education, even if they commence the course after their 19th birthday.

An Adult Learners Grant cannot be paid in addition to Income Support (or any out of work benefits) but can be claimed by those on Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit, but will be taken into account when calculating these benefits.

Adult Learning

9.3

Care Leavers aged 19 and over who wish to study for a further education course may have to pay a registration cost and the Awarding body fees. This is approximately £200 per academic year. This cost is included as part of the core offer and will be paid at the start of each academic year. This should be included in Pathway Planning with a clear outline of how the care leaver will support themselves throughout the course. It should be remembered that they will no longer be entitled to Income Support unless they have a child/children to care for. Care Leavers will be asked to provide a learners agreement prior to payments being made.

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC)/ No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF)

For those young people with no 'leave to remain' at 18 years the Pathway Plan should identify what support the local authority intends to give in assisting the care leaver to gain 'leave to remain', as well as any financial assistance during this period. In addition the care leaver may wish to pursue a course of Further Education study. The Personal Adviser will assess through Pathway Planning with the care leaver the viability of this and what support the local authority can offer. It may be appropriate for the care leaver to consider deferring their course of Further Education study for a year to give time for their status in the UK to be agreed.

Access to public funds, welfare benefits and other public funds

Financial support for looked after UASC should reflect their needs as looked after young people (eligible care leavers) and their immigration needs. Financial policies should highlight their entitlements and how their immigration status may impact on current and future entitlements.

Pathway Plans should address funding arrangements for education and training and how a young person's immigration status may limit education, training and employment opportunities. Pathway Plans should always consider the implications for the young people if their application to extend their leave to remain is refused, or their appeal against refusal of that application is dismissed. In such circumstances the person may become ineligible for further support and assistance because of the effect of Schedule 3 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.

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.

See also Supporting Care Leavers Through to 25 Procedure.

Higher Education

9.4

The definition of Higher Education is described under section 22(1) of the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998 and regulations made under that Act for the purposes of student support. The regulations that set out the courses covered can be found on the Legislation website.

Generally people need to be 18 or older to take a higher education course. They’re usually taught in:

  • Universities;
  • Colleges;
  • Specialist institutions like as art schools or agricultural colleges.

Higher education qualifications include:

  • Diplomas;
  • Bachelor degrees;
  • Foundation degrees;
  • Post-graduate degrees.

Finding the right course (HE)

Southwark's Employment Adviser is well-placed to provide care leavers with the information they need to choose, find and apply for a course that suits them, meeting identified need outlined in their needs assessment and Pathway Plan.

Each care leavers Personal Adviser will continue to maintain contact and offer support through the Pathway Plan process, which will include helping with university applications, grant and loan applications, housing and other financial matters. This support to care leavers continues for the duration of their university course.

Generally, finding a university course takes place as the care leaver is undertaking the final year of their A Levels (or equivalent). There will be times when this is later, for example, an unaccompanied minor who is taking time out to wait for their indefinite leave to remain to come through, before applying to universities.

Choosing what care leavers want from Higher Education takes research and planning, from starting to think about what they want to study, to planning what to take with them when they start university. The young person’s reviews during years 12 and 13 will specifically address HE/FE issues and required actions.

Both the UCAS and GOV.UK websites give lots of helpful information with regard finding and applying for university courses.

Financial support to attend university

Southwark will guarantee the following support and financial assistance to those care leavers attending university. This is in line with Section 23C of the Children Act 1989. This is paid in addition to any grants or loans applied for by the student:

  • Annual transport/bike grant of £300 (NB: universities will generally fund 30% of travel costs);
  • Provision of a laptop package at beginning of course £400.00 (supervised spend at PC World at outset of course and if not already provided);
  • Annual book and equipment allowance of - £100 - paid at the beginning of each academic year;
  • Allocation of personal advisor throughout course;
  • Full funding of required field trips;
  • Support in applying for grants and loans;
  • Annual grant of £1,750 towards costs of accommodation (NB: payable on 15th December during each relevant academic year paid directly to the provider i.e. halls of residence, council landlord, private landlord or private lodgings);
  • Annual higher education bursary;

    Year 1 Sept - Sept £700;
    Year 2 Sept - Sept £700;
    Year 3 Sept - June £600.

NB: The core offer does not include course fees, course equipment, unpaid utilities or rent arrears, court fines or additional fares.

Care leavers attending university do not have to pay council tax for the duration of their course.

Access to support for Masters, 2nd Degrees, Course Changes

The Care Service has to ensure that support for FE are applied as fairly and efficiently as possible within a challenging financial environment. Great care will therefore be required in selecting the most appropriate course and university as the Care Service will NOT extend its core offer beyond three years support if a student changes course/university mid stream to start a new degree course. Similarly the Care Service will NOT fund second degrees for care leavers.

If a care leaver drops out of their university degree course (they must complete the first year minimum), the Care Service would consider a subsequent application to undertake another university course by awarding the remaining outstanding "core offer" (i.e. two years) support.

The Care Service is unable to offer extended 4th year support for a Masters. However, there may be an occasion where from the outset, the Pathway Plan identifies that a masters is required to enable the care leaver to pursue their career choice. In such cases, the application for extended support for the Masters will be required at the commencement of the degree (HE) course.

Payments (HE)

9.5

In line with Care Service financial policy, relevant awards from the Care Service will be paid directly into the care leaver's bank account at the specified time of the academic year. All children in Southwark's care are required to have a bank account from the age of 17.

Exceptional circumstances (i.e. extreme financial hardship) may be assessed by the personal adviser through the Pathway Plan Review process and be presented to the 18+ placement panel. A detailed report will be required as to why the current support is inadequate, what steps the care leaver has taken to address their circumstances and how a similar situation might be avoided in future.

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking children are eligible for the bursary provided that s/he is not appeals rights exhausted. If this is the case the local authority will not treat UAS care leavers any differently to any other former relevant child. See HE Bursary (England) Regulations 2009.

The bursary and other financial supports provided are not linked to attendance at university and as such cannot be used as an incentive. However regulation 4(5) does state the following:

"The local authority may withhold payment of any unpaid balance of the higher education bursary during any period when the former relevant child is not pursuing higher education in accordance with the pathway plan".

Course equipment costs in excess of the annual allowance (see core offer) will need to be paid for by the care leaver using their loans, grants, employment pay or personal bursary. The Pathway Plan should outline when payments are made and how this is planned.

Accommodation

9.6

Currently many Southwark care leavers who go onto university will have secured their own council tenancy and most have attended a London university. Under the "core offer" the Care Service will make an annual payment of £1,750 towards vacation accommodation costs.

There may be occasions when a care leaver prefers to live in halls of residence during term time or live in local lodgings. The provision of an annual accommodation grant will enable care leavers to make choices as to where they live, the costs they incur and whether to seek a council tenancy before or after going to university.

Care leavers who wish to attend an out of London University would need to consider deferring their council tenancy until after they have completed their course (commuting costs will be high).

Unresolved Status - No recourse to public funds

9.7

Those young people who have no recourse to public funds may manage to obtain a place in higher education but would not receive financial support from the university or government in the form of grants, loans or fees. The Care Service therefore, Advocates the use of a gap year whilst status is resolved. This year can be supported to consider access to learning opportunities to enhance language skills where necessary and as preparation for further learning. Once the care leaver obtains leave to remain the Care Service will support them to attend university from the age of 19 to 22.

Through the Pathway Plan process it will be identified whether a Unaccompanied Minors (Asylum seeker) Care Leaver has obtained 'leave to remain' in the UK. If this is the case they will be entitled to public funds, housing and employment, in addition they can apply for Grants and Loans linked to a course of study at university.

For those young people with no 'leave to remain' at 18 years the Pathway Plan should identify what support the local authority intends to give in assisting the care leaver to gain 'leave to remain', as well as any financial assistance during this period. In addition the care leaver may wish to pursue a course of Higher Education study. The Personal Adviser will assess through Pathway Planning with the care leaver the viability of this and what support the local authority can offer.


10. Health

10.1

The Looked After Children Health Team, based at Sunshine House will prepare a health care summary for care leavers and access to their records. The Looked After Children Nurse is available to provide support and guidance to care leavers if requested.

Consultant Community Paediatrician Designated Doctor for Children Looked After

Address:

Southwark Children & Young Peoples Development Centre
Sunshine House
27 Peckham Road London
SE5 8UH

Designated Doctor’s PA: Telephone: 020 3049 8096

Looked After Children enquiries: Telephone: 020 3049 8098 or 020 3049 8037

Fax: 020 3049 8155

Sexual health

10.2 Young Women’s Worker: The worker supports the young women with contraception choices as well as education, employment and training opportunities and personal issues that the young women maybe dealing with.
10.3 A ‘DUST ‘screening tool, is used by all social workers to identify sexual health issues, activity and prevention strategies. This information is also correlated with information on substance and alcohol use. Together this provides a comprehensive range of information to inform an approach to working with young people. Paediatricians and mental health colleagues in Carelink offer a co-ordinated response to reviewing and supporting children and young people in relation to their sexual health.
10.4 Clinical Practitioners are allocated to each Care Group. They will work with Personal Advisors and the young person to consider any assistance and referrals required for general mental health and well being progress for the young person.

Drug and Alcohol Services

10.4

Insight Southwark is a young people's (under 19 years) substance misuse service operating across the borough of Southwark. It provides advice and information on harm reduction and prevention, as well as therapeutic interventions to complement the needs of young people.

The confidential service includes phone support, one to one appointments and group workshops.

Address:
Insight Southwark
Unit 15-16
83 Crampton Street
SE17 3BT

Telephone: 020 3031 9386

Email: insightsouthwark@blenheimcdp.org.uk

Young people with disabilities

10.5

The Transition Social Work team support young disabled people:

  • Between 14 to 25 years old;
  • Who have significant disabilities and complex support needs;
  • Who need support to move into adulthood;
  • Who qualify for adult social care support.

The Transition Team will complete an assessment of young person’s social care needs to work out if they qualify for adult social care support. They will then help the young person develop a personal plan to meet their support needs.

The Transition Team offer:

  • Advice and Guidance to the foster-carer in relation to the promotion of the young person's independence;
  • Signposting to services / organisations that can provide activities and opportunities for young people in the community;
  • Future planning / implementation relating to Education, Work, Accommodation Options and Social Relationships.

The Local Offer

10.6 The Local Offer contains information on all services for children and young people with special educational needs and disability available in Southwark. The local offer provides information from birth to 25. It includes information on health, education, social care, activities outside of school and where to access advice, support and guidance.

Young people’s participation

10.7

Speaker box is the council for children in care and care leavers in Southwark. They support children’s participation and service improvement for Southwark’s looked after children and care leavers up to the age of 24.

Telephone: 0207 5253356

Mobile: 07943 832750

BBM: 2BAE04A7

Email: Speakerbox@southwark.gov.uk


Appendix 1: Definitions of Categories of Children Entitled to Leaving Care Support

Click here to view Appendix 1: Definitions of Categories of Children Entitled to Leaving Care Support.

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