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3.11.6 Southwark Staying Put Policy

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter comprehensively covers the practice of Staying Put which provides opportunities for young people to continue to live with their foster carers for a further period of time and recognises that few young people are emotionally and socially equipped to live independently. The chapter highlights a range of issues, including the procedures, regulatory expectations and supports at a time when a ‘placement’ becomes an ‘arrangement’.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

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

HM Government, ‘Staying Put’: Arrangements for Care Leavers Aged 18 and Above to Stay on with their Former Foster Carers, (May 2013)

RELEVANT CHAPTER

Support for Care Leavers – Succeeding into Adulthood Procedure

Planning for Children and Young People: Pathway Plans including Needs Assessment - Practice Guidance

AMENDMENT

This chapter was reviewed in September 2016. Minor amendments were made to some details to bring the chapter up to date.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Legal and Policy Context
  3. Stay Put Definitions
  4. Southwark - Staying Put Scheme
  5. Terminology
  6. Changing Status - Foster Care Placement to Staying Put Arrangement
  7. Procedure for Extending a Foster Care Placement into a Staying Put Arrangement
  8. Information to be Presented to the Practice Group Lead
  9. Staying Put General Allowances (2015 - 2016)
  10. Staying Put - Social Care and Regulatory Frameworks
  11. Roles and Responsibilities
  12. Support for Young People
  13. Support for Staying Put Carers
  14. Minimum Standards and Practical Requirements
  15. Staying Put Practical Arrangements - 'Living Together Agreements'
  16. Monitoring and Reviewing
  17. Moving on from a Staying Put Arrangement
  18. Ending the Arrangement Before the Young Person Reaches the Age of 21

    Appendix 1: Living Together Agreement

    Appendix 2: Staying Put - Move-on Arrangements - Planned and Un-planned Endings and Evictions


1. Introduction

The average age of leaving home is rising and the transition to adulthood is increasingly becoming more complex and elongated. The national Staying Put policy framework requires local authorities to set out local arrangements for extending foster placements as Staying Put arrangements in order to extend children/young people’s transition to adulthood within a family and household supported environment. The primary aim of Staying Put is to promote, in a family setting, a gradual transition for young people from a foster family into adulthood and independent living. The intention being to ensure young people can remain with their former foster carers until they are prepared for adulthood, can experience a transition akin to their peers, avoid social exclusion and be more likely to avert a subsequent housing and tenancy breakdown.

Southwark Council is committed to preventing social exclusion amongst care leavers and has developed this Staying Put policy in order to ensure that they can continue to live with former foster carers after their 18th birthday and make the transition to independent living at a pace that suits their needs.

This policy sets out:

  1. The policy and regulatory framework for Staying Put;
  2. The process for extending a foster care placement beyond a young person’s eighteenth birthday into a Staying Put arrangement;
  3. The social care requirements and practical issues associated with extending fostering arrangements as Staying Put arrangements;
  4. The arrangements for moving on from Staying Put.

Two further documents set out the financial implications for young people and staying put carers, including:

  1. The financial requirements and benefit issues for young people (see Staying Put: Financial Requirements and Personal Benefits for Young People Procedure);
  2. The financial rates and payment implications for foster carers and Staying Put carers;
  3. The welfare benefit issues for foster carers and Staying Put carers (see Payments and Benefits Issues for Staying Put Carers Procedure);
  4. The Income Tax and National Insurance implications and issues for foster carers and Staying Put carers;


2. Legal and Policy Context

Staying Put aims to fulfil the objectives of the Children Act 1989, and the Children (Leaving Care) act 2000, to improve the life chances of children and young people in and leaving local authority care. Specifically to:

  • Delay young people’s discharge from care until they are ready and prepared;
  • Improve assessment, preparation and planning for leaving local authority care;
  • Provide better personal support for young people leaving local authority care;
  • Improve financial arrangements for young people leaving local authority care.

In addition, the Children and Young Persons’ Act 2008 emphasised a need for a more graduated approach to transitions to adulthood, and required local authorities to begin to approach the extension of foster care placements beyond a young person’s 18th birthday.

The guidance of the Children (Leaving Care) Act recommends converting foster placements at 18 years into supported lodgings. The Planning Transitions to Adulthood for Care Leavers (Regulations & Guidance) 2015, the Fostering Service (England) Regulations 2011 (Children Act 1989) and the National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services 2011 all require local authorities to have Staying Put procedures in place. These procedures are required to set out the practical, financial, tax and benefit issues for foster carers and young people when foster care is extended post-18 years.

In addition the following policy and regulatory drivers apply:

  • In October 2012 the Children’s Minister urged all local authorities to develop ‘Staying Put’ arrangements;
  • From 2013/14 the Department for Education required local authorities to provide data on the number and percentage of 19, 20 and 21 year olds living with former foster carers;
  • In the 2013 Ofsted Inspection Single Regulatory Framework for Children’s Services a measure of being a “good” service is that “care leavers can remain in placements beyond their 18th birthday”;
  • The Children and Families Act 2014 (Regulation 98) places a significant legal duty on local authorities to support every care leaver who wishes to stay with their foster carers until their 21st birthday.

Guidance has been issued by the Department for Education and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) the Department for Work and Pensions on how to implement a Staying Put Policy and details the financial implications of Staying Put, both for young people and for carers.


3. Staying Put Definitions

Department for Education Definitions

The term ‘Staying Put’ is used to define the following arrangements where:

  1. A young person who was looked after immediately prior to their eighteenth birthday (as an eligible child) continues to reside with their former foster carer/s;
  2. The carer/s were acting as foster carers to the child immediately prior to the young person’s eighteenth birthday (that is, the carers were approved as foster carers in accordance with the Fostering Service (England) Regulations 2011 (amended July 2013) and the child had been placed with them by the local authority, or via an Independent Fostering Agency);
  3. A young person is deemed an Eligible Child, within the meaning of paragraph 19B (2) of Schedule 2 to the Children Act 1989, immediately before he/she reached eighteen;
  4. The Staying Put arrangement is set out in the child/young person’s Pathway Plan;
  5. A proportion of the allowance paid to the Staying Put carer/s is paid by the Local Authority Children’s Services under section 23C of the Children Act 1989;
  6. Under section 23CZA of the Children Act 1989 there is a specific legal requirement placed on Local Authorities to advise, assist and support both the young person and their former foster carers when they wish to stay living together after the young person reaches their 18th birthday.
  7. The Staying Put arrangement extends until: the young person first leaves the Staying Put arrangement; or

    The young person reaches their twenty-first birthday, if continuously and still living in the arrangement; or

    The young person completes the agreed programme of education or training being undertaken on their twenty-first birthday, if continuously living in the arrangement since their eighteenth birthday.

DfE “Staying Put” arrangements can therefore cover all young people who were  previously Eligible children living in foster care, and who were Looked After immediately prior to their eighteenth birthday, as long as the arrangement meets the above criteria, regardless of whether the young person is undertaking full or part time education, training or employment or none of these activities.

Department for Work and Pensions Definitions

The specific DWP legislation covering Staying Put arrangements highlights that:

  1. Where a young person continues to reside with their former foster carer after their eighteenth birthday; and
  2. Where the child was looked after immediately prior to their eighteenth birthday; and
  3. Where the payments are made by the local authority to the carer under section 23C of the Children Act 1989.

the payments are disregarded in calculating the carers entitlement to means tested benefits.

Where part of the payment for the Staying Put arrangement comes from a contribution from the young person, (as a payment for rent, either directly or from housing benefit), the non-section 23C element will be taken into account in the calculation of the Staying Put carers own means tested benefit claim.

Additionally, the section 23C disregard is lost on the whole payment (section 23C and non-section 23C elements) when the young person first leaves the Staying Put arrangement, should the young person return to their former foster/Staying Put carer or, move to another carer after their eighteenth birthday.

HM Revenue and Customs Definitions

The term Staying Put (HMRC) is used to define arrangements where:

  1. A young person was looked after immediately prior to their eighteenth birthday;
  2. The young person has a Pathway Plan;
  3. A proportion of the allowance paid to the Staying Put carer/s is paid by the Local Authority;
  4. Staying Put arrangements can extend until: the young person reaches their twenty-first birthday; or: the young person completes the agreed programme of education or training being undertaken on their twenty-first birthday.

Definitions Overview

Where possible; DfE, DWP and HMRC definitions and frameworks relating to Staying Put have been harmonised. However, given the complexity of the three different legislative frameworks relating to Staying Put arrangements, and the fact that some of the legislation does not cover all four countries in the United Kingdom, this has not been wholly possible.


4. Southwark - Staying Put Scheme

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 often experience delayed maturity, and that their 18th birthday may be an arbitrary and inappropriate point to leave a familial and foster care household. Therefore, the Southwark Staying Put scheme is designed to ensure young people do not experience a sudden disruption to their living arrangements, that educational and training achievement and continuity is promoted, that all young people can make a gradual transition from care to independence or to an adult service.

The only time the local authority would not provide advice, assistance and support to a staying put arrangement would be in those exceptionally rare circumstances where a ‘staying put’ arrangement would not be consistent with the welfare of the young person.


5. Terminology

From the age of 18 young people are no longer legally ‘in care’ or ‘Looked After’ and therefore fostering arrangements and legislation relating to children placed with foster carers no longer applies. In circumstances where a young person remains with their former foster carer/s after their 18th birthday, the arrangement should therefore be deemed an ‘age eighteen and older arrangement’ or Staying Put arrangement. The term ‘arrangement’ should be used rather than ‘placement’; the term ‘placement’ denotes a situation where the local authority arranged and placed the child with a foster carer. Once the child reaches the age of 18 and legal adulthood, the local authority is no longer making a placement, but facilitating a Staying Put arrangement for the young person.


6. Changing Status - Foster Care Placement to Staying Put Arrangement

Following a young person’s 18th birthday, the legal basis on which they occupy the property (former foster care home) changes and they become an ‘excluded licensee’ who is effectively lodging in the Staying Put carer/s home. Whilst the term ‘excluded licensee’ is a legal one, it should not denote that the young person will be treated differently than they were as a fostered child. In addition, the carer may also become, and be deemed the young person’s landlord.

The associated change from foster child to adult member of the household, and for the carer from foster carer to Staying Put carer, should be carefully and sensitively planned.   Both young people and the carer must understand the nature of the arrangement and that the positive aspects of being in foster care are not diminished by the new legal and financial arrangements and terminology.

An excluded licensee can be asked to leave the property by the Staying Put carer, who must give ‘reasonable notice’. In extreme circumstances it may be considered reasonable for the Staying Put carer to give very short notice and ask the young person to leave on the same day.


7. Procedure for Extending a Foster Care Placement into a Staying Put Arrangement

An assessment of need begun at the age of 15¾ should identify the timescale required for young people to move to independence and should be used as the framework for beginning to explore the following questions and issues:

  1. Is it likely that the young person would benefit from a Staying Put arrangement when they reach their 18th birthday?
  2. Are the young person and their foster carer/s in agreement to a Staying Put arrangement?
  3. Do the young person and their foster carer/s understand the procedures and requirements for extending a foster care placement into a Staying Put arrangement?
  4. Does the young person understand their financial and benefit responsibilities associated with remaining in a Staying Put arrangement?
  5. Does the foster carer/s understand the changes in their funding arrangements associated with a Staying Put arrangement?
  6. 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?
  7. What is the parallel plan for the young person should the Staying Put arrangement not be viable?
  8. Is the young person aware that there are alternatives to staying put, for example moving into supported housing or getting a LBS tenancy?
  9. What are the preparation for independence tasks, goals and targets to be achieved during the last two years of foster care and when the placement becomes a Staying Put arrangement?
  10. What is the plan for converting the Staying Put arrangement into an Adult Placement (Shared Lives) where the young person has a disability and meets the Adult Services Fair Access to Care (Putting People First) criteria?

To ensure sufficient time is available to make the necessary planning arrangements for extending a placement beyond a young person’s 18th birthday, a professionals meeting should take place as part of the needs assessment, this meeting should take place immediately prior to the young person’s 16th birthday. The Staying Put meeting should include the foster carer/s, supervising social worker and leaving care social worker/Personal Adviser and should establish the viability and likelihood of a Staying Put arrangement occurring. The meeting should identify all the tasks that are required to extend the fostering arrangement into a Staying Put arrangement and apportion roles and responsibilities. The meeting should also explore the impact on the foster carers’ financial circumstances should the placement/arrangement continue after the young person’s 18th birthday.

Young people should not be included in the initial meeting and planning process, and should only be included after their foster carer/s have confirmed they are able to retain the young person under a Staying Put arrangement once the young person reaches the age of 18. This is required in order to ensure the stability of the placement and to avoid unsettling the young person.

The Head of Service for Care should be informed by the Practice Group Lead at least a year before the young person’s 18th birthday that there is likely to be a Staying Put arrangement happening. This is to enable effective budget forecasting. The Practice Group Lead responsible for overall monitoring of Staying Put arrangements will undertake regular monthly reviews of Staying Put planning through Mosaic and report to the leadership group and finance regarding practice and financial implications.

The Staying Put professionals meeting should be repeated when the young person reaches the age of 17¼ and should ensure that any final arrangements and requirements are in place by the young person’s 18th birthday. The outcome of the meeting should be discussed at the young person’s subsequent statutory review and the decision ratified by the Independent Reviewing Officer. The outcome of the meeting and decision of the Statutory Review should then form the basis of the report presented to the Head of Service for Care when the young person reaches the age of 17½, who is responsible for any decision regarding extending a fostering arrangement into a Staying Put arrangement.

All meetings should make reference to the reason for the Staying Put arrangement, the practical requirements associated with Staying Put and also the National Insurance, Income Tax and Welfare Benefits issues for the foster carer/s/Staying Put carer/s and the Welfare Benefit issues for the young person.

If the foster placement is with an Independent Fostering Agency, the Commissioning team in conjunction with the young person’s social worker and Care Service will be responsible for approaching the carer and their agency to decide the financial terms of the Staying Put arrangement. These discussions will be undertaken within the overall context of the contractual arrangement with the provider.

All requests for extending a placement after a young person’s 18th birthday must be presented to the Practice Group Lead for each respective practice group.  The Head of Service for Care will retain overall responsibility for decision making and planning. The request for Staying Put should be presented when the young person reaches the age of 17½ to 17¾. Once agreed, the Staying Put arrangement can extend until the young person moves to their independent tenancy or reaches their 21st birthday (or until the education/training course being undertaken on their 21st birthday is completing), with monitoring of the arrangement being undertaken by the leaving care Personal Adviser and the Staying Put carers’ supervising social worker or support worker.


8. Information to be Presented to the Practice Group Lead 

The following information should be presented when the young person reaches the age of 17½ to 17¾ setting out the purpose and aims of the Staying Put arrangement and any particular milestones, targets and outcomes.

The overall purpose and aims should be set out in the young person’s Pathway Plan and the day to day arrangements for supporting the young person should be set out in their Living Together Agreement,(see Appendix 1: Living Together Agreement) which is an extension / conversion of the Placement Plan.

Information on tasks, roles and responsibilities should include:

  • Arrangements for supporting the young person to claim any benefits they are entitled too and who will assist them with this task;
  • Arrangements for supporting and promoting education and training;
  • Transition arrangements to an Adult Service and a Shared Lives Scheme;
  • The anticipated length of the Staying Put arrangement and the anticipated move-on arrangements;
  • What preparation for independence tasks are to be undertaken and what improved life skills are anticipated by extending foster care as a Staying Put arrangement
  • What are the safeguarding arrangements for the young person, any foster children in placement and the children of the foster carers, has a DBS check been started or completed, is it anticipated that a risk assessment will be required;
  • Where a young person is Staying Put in an arrangement outside of the Southwark area will they return to Southwark or move to the private sector where they live;
  • Any specific vulnerabilities and needs of the young person.

Information should include the views of the foster carer, young person and IRO and any specific financial issues related to the carer. (See also Section 15, Staying Put Practical Arrangements – Living Together Agreements).

Early planning for Staying Put

It is good practice to include the provision of staying put as a matching criteria for long term placements - i.e. the foster carers would provide staying put if the young person was still living with them at the age of 18.

It is also good practice to discuss Staying Put with those foster carers who have 14 or 15 year olds, at their annual review. This would include what Staying Put entails, what the financial implications are, the different nature of their relationship with the young person and any training needs the foster carer may have.


9. Staying Put General Allowances (2015 – 2016)

  1. From the young person’s 18th birthday Staying Put carers are no longer expected to provide pocket money, a clothing allowance or a personal allowance; young people are expected to replace this via means tested benefits or employment.
  2. In order to create parity with other care leavers, fostering birthday and Christmas/festival allowances and access to the holiday allowances cease once a young person reaches the age 18.
  3. Any additional funding or requirements relating to family contact, specific activities and health needs for individual young people and Staying Put arrangements should be agreed by the Practice Group Lead for the relevant practice group.  and should be set out in the young person’s Pathway Plan.
  4. Staying Put carers should continue to provide the same level of support and services to the young person as they did when they were a foster child. The support provided should be set out in the young person’s Pathway Plan.
  5. As set out above all young people are required to claim a personal benefit, or, replace the clothing, pocket money and personal allowance element by part-time earnings and also claim Housing Benefit. For those young people who are 18 and have no recourse to public funds a personal allowance will be agreed and the pathway plan will describe the amount and arrangements.
  6. In situations where young people are working part-time, and do not claim a means tested personal benefit they will be expected to use their earnings to replace the pocket money and clothing allowance and claim housing benefit. Earnings over £62.35 (2014-2015) will result in a reduction of Housing Benefit which will need to be made up by a contribution by the young person.
  7. Young people living in kinship foster care placements /Staying Put arrangements with sisters, brothers and certain extended family members who are formally approved as foster carers are not eligible to claim housing benefit on reaching the age of 18. In situations where a young person is not eligible to claim Housing Benefit Southwark Children’s Care Service will pay the rent/accommodation element of the Staying Put arrangement.
  8. All Housing Benefit should be paid directly to the Fostering Placements Budget. Where young people are not living in Southwark they may require assistance from their SW/PA in claiming Housing Benefit. The SW/PA may require assistance from our DWP representative with this, especially if local authorities are not willing to pay Housing Benefit to the Southwark Fostering Placements Budget.
  9. This section will require further review as we move towards the implementation of Universal Credit.

Young People who have a Staying Put arrangement and are attending university

Where a young person is attending university and has a Staying Put arrangement, and wishes to stay with their Staying Put carer during the vacation, the carer should be paid the vacation holiday allowance (which is part of the Higher Education package), currently £1,700 per annum.


10. Staying Put - Social Care and Regulatory Frameworks

Where Fostered Child/Children are also Living in the Staying Put Arrangement

Where a young person reaches the age of 18 and fostered children are also living in the placement, all aspects of the legislation relating to fostering continue to apply and govern the regulation of the household.

The major change being that the previously fostered child (from age 18) becomes a Staying Put young person and therefore an adult member of the household. As such the young person will require:

  • A Disclosure and Baring Service (DBS) check, previously called a CRB check (and a risk assessment if the DBS check highlights a ‘trace’ i.e. potential risk);
  • In Southwark a DBS check should be undertaken and completed: on all birth children of foster carers or Staying Put carers when the child reaches the age of 18; and on all fostered children reaching the age of 18.

In order to ensure DBS checks have been completed by the young person’s 18th birthday, these will need to be planned in advance (from age 17½).

From the age of 18 the requirement for a young person to have a Placement Plan that sets out the day to day arrangements for the placement ceases. A ‘Living Together Agreement’ which sets out the practical Staying Put arrangements (See Section 15, Staying Put Practical Arrangements – Living Together Agreements and Appendix 1: Living Together Agreement Form).

In addition, the foster carer/s should be returned (review report presented) to the Fostering Panel (see Fostering Panel Procedure) for a change of circumstances (new adult member of the household – Staying Put young person).

The report should address any issues arising from a DBS check and associated ‘risk assessment’ and how any foster children, or children of the foster carer/s living in the household will be safeguarded.

Fostering Panel will need to give due consideration to the impact of the Staying Put arrangement on the foster carers’ terms of approval, including the numbers approved for, and whether this number includes the Staying Put young person. 

Where no fostered child/children are living in the Staying Put arrangement

Whilst fostering regulations no longer formally apply when a young person reaches the age of 18 the following requirements and standards will continue to govern the Southwark Staying Put arrangements in circumstances where no fostered child/children are living in the household:

  • The Placement Plan which includes the roles, responsibilities and the expectations of the foster carer and the young person should be converted into a ‘Living Together Agreement’;
  • A return to the Fostering Panel to discuss changes in the household arrangements and any plans for future deregistration and/or agreeing a period of fostering inactivity if a carer is not taking any further fostering placements (on a temporary or permanent basis);
  • A yearly review of the Staying Put carer and the overall arrangement;
  • Safeguarding and risk assessment checks on household members and regular visitors;
  • Health and safety checks;
  • The Fostering Service will provide support for the Staying Put carer at a level appropriate to the placement;
  • The opportunity to attending appropriate training and support groups.

Note: In circumstances where Staying Put carers only have an 18 year old, (or older) Staying Put young person living with them, the supervising social worker will need to assess individual circumstances and consider the appropriateness of all of the above checks, particularly where it is envisaged that no further foster children will be placed in the future.


11. Roles and Responsibilities

A number of professionals will be involved in supporting the young person both in terms of making the Staying Put arrangement and in maintaining it once the young person reaches 18 years.

Foster Carer / Staying Put Carer

Their role is to support the young person towards independence after they have reached the age of eighteen. This would include any agreed plan to this end that is set out in the Pathway Plan.

  • To provide a home to the young person, up to the age of 21 years;
  • To work with the young person’s social worker and/or PA, the Independent Reviewing Officer, Transition Team social worker and Advocate;
  • To attend Pathway Plan reviews prior to and after the young persons 18th birthday.

Supervising social worker

Their role is to provide advice and support to staying put carers if they are also foster carers. In addition they will:

  • Ensure carer is receiving correct payments;
  • Provide regular supervision to the Staying Put carer;
  • Participate in the Pathway Plan reviews both pre and post 18 years;
  • Conduct a yearly review of the Staying Put carer;
  • Ensure that safeguarding, risk assessment and DBS checks are completed on every member of the household.

Through supervision they should address with the carer the impact of being a Staying Put carer on their fostering role.

If the Staying Put carer is no longer a foster carer the Fostering Service will provide support to the carer at a level appropriate to the placement. After that, they will negotiate with the staying put carer the level of support that is required. As a minimum they will conduct a yearly review of the staying put carer, and will attend Pathway Plan reviews.

Social Worker

The role of the social worker has been outlined in The College of Social Work advice note ‘Roles and Function of Social Workers in England’ (archived).

In relation to Staying Put this would include:

  • Supporting the young person toward a Staying Put arrangement, where this is agreed in the needs assessment and Pathway Plan at 16 years;
  • Complete the Needs Assessment and Pathway Plan at 16 years with young person and to include: parents, carer/s, education, health and other agencies involved in the care of the young person;
  • Subsequent reviewing of the Pathway Plan;
  • Handover to the Personal Adviser before the young person’s 18th birthday.

Personal Adviser (PA)

The role of the personal adviser is outlined in Regulation 8 of the Care Leavers (England) Regulations, and ‘The Children Act Guidance and Regulations Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care leavers’, Revised January 2015. In brief the PA Role is:

  • Provide advice and support to the care leaver;
  • Keep in touch with the Staying Put carer and provide advice ad support as necessary;
  • Ensure that the Pathway Plan is regularly reviewed;
  • Liaise with the local authority with regard implementing the Pathway Plan;
  • Co-ordinate the provision of services to support the care leaver;
  • Keep informed about the care leavers’ progress and wellbeing.

Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO)

The role of the IRO is outlined in the IRO Handbook supported by the following legislation; The Children and Young Persons Act 2008, which created a new power for the Secretary of State to issue statutory guidance to IROs; and section 7 of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970, which requires local authorities, in the exercise of their social services functions, to act under the general guidance of the Secretary of State; unless there are exceptional reasons local authorities must follow the requirements set out in this guidance.

This includes:

  • Continuing review of Pathway Plan post 16 years;
  • Involvement in discussion with regard to Staying Put, including whether the young person is aware of alternatives;
  • Keeping Staying Put on the review agenda;
  • To consider the ‘Living Together Agreement’ at the last Pathway Plan Review meeting prior to the young person’s 18th birthday.

Brokerage and Commissioning Services

The Brokerage and Commissioning Team in conjunction with the young person’s social worker and the Care Service will be responsible for approaching the Independent Fostering Agency and carer, and negotiating costs and terms.

Transition Team

Where a young person is allocated in the Transitions Team the social worker would be involved in pathway planning at 16 years, as a Staying Put arrangement is being discussed. They would become more involved as the young person approaches 18 years in terms of future planning and would work jointly with the personal adviser.

The Transitions Team offers the following:

  • 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, employment, accommodation options and social relationships;
  • To work with colleagues from adult services to decide whether the support offered to the young person and their carer is provided under a Staying Put arrangement or an ‘Adult Family Support Scheme.’.

Advocate

Barnardos provides Advocacy for Looked-After Children, care leavers and children in need in Southwark. An Advocate is independent from the local authority or social worker and will ensure that young people:

  • Know their rights and entitlements;
  • Are involved in decisions made about their lives;
  • Get what they need from children's social care;
  • Have their problems and concerns resolved quickly;
  • Learn new skills, take on new responsibilities, and gain in confidence.


12. Support for Young People

Young people will have continued support from their social worker to their 18th birthday. The Personal Adviser (PA) continues to support from the 18th Birthday and will be introduced to the young person and network prior to the young person’s 18th birthday. In Southwark the systemic practice model ensures that if the young person’s PA is unavailable, there will be another member of the practice group who will be able to assist the young person.

This support includes Pathway Plan Reviews every 6 months. Home visits at least four times a year and four direct work sessions per year which can be completed outside of the home. Care leavers will also have access to the employment adviser who can assist with education, training and employment opportunities. The care service also has a young woman’s worker and SW or PA can refer as appropriate.

Care leavers may also be supported by their parents, older siblings, advocate or a mentor. Any person who is supporting a care leaver should be included in the post 18 Pathway Plan Reviews.


13. Support for Staying Put Carers

All Staying Put carers will be allocated a named support worker.

  1. In situations where foster children are placed in the household, or may be placed in the future and the Staying Put carer remains registered as a foster carer, the existing supervising social worker will normally continue to support the overall arrangement (Fostering and Staying Put);
  2. In situations where there are no foster children in the household and it is not planned that any further foster children will be placed, the Fostering Service will support the Staying Put arrangement for a minimum of one year. At the end of the first year, the arrangements for supervision will be reviewed.

Depending on the needs of the young person and/or the Staying Put carer, the Fostering Service may continue to provide support to the arrangement.

Advice on welfare benefits and taxation issues can be accessed by Staying Put carers through the Citizens Advice Bureau (telephone Advice 0344 499 4134) or Southwark Welfare Rights service, on 0207 5257434 email rightfullyyours@southwark.gov.uk. The Fostering Network can also provide detailed advice on Staying Put to foster carers.


14. Minimum Standards and Practical Requirements

In situations where no foster children live in the placement and a decision is taken to cease the approval of the Staying Put carer as a foster carer, the overall arrangement then comes within the ‘Suitable Accommodation’ framework as set out in the Planning Transition to Adulthood Guidance, which includes the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010 and must comply with Regulation 6, 7 & 9 and Schedule 2.

Staying Put carers should ensure they inform their mortgage provider or landlord and their buildings and contents insurance provider that they will continue to be supporting a former foster child as a young adult under a Staying Put arrangement. Failure to inform the above may cause a breach of mortgage/tenancy requirements and may result in insurance cover being void due to a ‘failure to disclose material facts’. Staying Put carers continue to be covered under the Southwark Council insurance policy in the same way as Foster Carers.

Staying Put carers who transport young people are required to apply the same level of standards and care when transporting Staying Put young people as they did when they were transporting a foster child, i.e. comprehensive business insurance, a valid MOT, a valid Road Vehicle License and a road worthy vehicle.

Staying Put expectations should be incorporated into the ‘Foster Carer Agreement’ that foster carers sign on initial approval, and then on a yearly basis following a successful review of their terms of approval.


15. Staying Put Practical Arrangements – ‘Living Together Agreements’

All young people (who are looked after) living in foster care should have a placement plan that sets out the day to day arrangements governing the placement; this is then incorporated into their Care Plan/Pathway Plan. 

The requirement to have a Placement Plan ceases when a child reaches the age of 18 and is replaced in Southwark by the requirement that all young people remaining with their former foster carers under a Staying Put arrangement have a ‘Living Together Agreement’. The ‘Living Together Agreement’ replaces the Placement Plan and should cover the same range of issues and include a focus on the young person’s needs associated with the reason for the Staying Put arrangement being agreed.

Young people, Staying Put carer/s, leaving care personal advisers and supervising social workers should meet to convert the placement plan into a ‘Living Together Agreement’ prior to a young person’s 18th birthday. The agreement should set out the expectation of all parties and clarify roles and responsibilities. The agreement should be incorporated into the young person’s Pathway Plan.

The Living Together Agreement should cover:

  1. Preparation for independence tasks, expectations, goals and targets;
  2. Finance, including young people having credit cards, loan agreement and mobile phone contracts registered at the address;
  3. Income and benefit claims;
  4. Friends and partners visiting and staying;
  5. Staying away for nights/weekends and informing carers of travel arrangements and movements;
  6. Education, training and employment activities;
  7. Health arrangements;
  8. Move-on arrangements;
  9. Issues related to younger foster care children in the placement, safeguarding, role modelling and time keeping;
  10. Specific issues to do with the needs of the young person.

(See Appendix One:  Living Together Agreement document p22)


16. Monitoring and Reviewing

The Pathway Plan provides a framework for monitoring and reviewing a staying put arrangement. The personal adviser is responsible for co-ordinating the provision of services and has a key role in keeping in contact with the young person, the Staying Put carer and the network in order to regularly review progress.

The personal adviser will continue to visit the young person and carer at their home as well as have informal contact. The frequency of this should be agreed and included in the Pathway Plan which will be reviewed at least six monthly.

If any safeguarding issues are raised by the personal adviser or anyone else in contact with the young person then a referral would be made to Adult Services who would investigate the concerns if no children are involved.

In some cases where a young person also has a social worker in the Transitions Team then they would be included in the Pathway Plan reviews and the personal adviser would be included in the yearly review conducted by the Transitions Team.

There are occasions when the Independent Reviewing Officer will continue to review the Pathway Plan from 18 to 19 years. This is where a young person may be known to the Transitions Team or may have complex needs where transition planning is crucial.


17. Moving on from a Staying Put Arrangement

The Staying Put arrangement will automatically end when the young person becomes 21. When a young person is planning to move on from a Staying Put arrangement as they approach 21, it needs to be considered that they will no longer be classed as in "priority need" for social housing when they reach the age of 21. It may be necessary to plan for the young person to move shortly before this time if social housing is to be accessed.

Leaving home and setting up independently can be a difficult task for all young people, and those who have been living in a staying put arrangement should be given appropriate support do this successfully from both their personal adviser and their Staying Put carer. If a young person will be at a critical time in their education (e.g. final exam period) at the time when they reach 21 years they will be able to stay put until after this period.


18. Ending the Arrangement before the Young Person reaches the Age of 21

Since Staying Put arrangements are made through the agreement of the young person and their foster carer either is able to bring the arrangement to an end before the young person reaches 21.

Where there is consideration of bringing the arrangement to an end, good practice would always be to involve the young person’s personal adviser, in order that a suitable alternative living arrangement could be made for the young person. A Pathway Plan Review meeting should be held where the young person is threatened with homelessness, to agree the move on and support package. The supervising social worker should also be informed. Whoever is ending the arrangement should give at least one month’s notice and preferably more that they wish this to happen.

Even if the young person and the carer are ceasing to live in the same accommodation, support should be given to both of them to maintain the relationship and some form of contact. This will be especially beneficial to young people who do not have a large support network.

Exit interviews should happen with both the young person and the carer to determine what worked well with the arrangement, and what could be improved.

If Southwark do not support the arrangement (if it is not thought to be beneficial to the young person’s welfare for example) there is no legal power to bring the arrangement to an end.

For further detail on planned and unplanned move on from Staying Put please see Appendix 2


Appendix 1: Living Together Agreement

Click here to view Appendix 1: Living Together Agreement Form.


Appendix 2: Staying Put - Move-On Arrangements – Planned and Un-Planned Endings and Evictions

All young people reaching the age of 18 should have a pathway plan that sets out the arrangements for any future move to semi-independent or independent living. Young people reaching the age of 18 and commencing a Staying Put arrangement should also have a pathway plan that sets out the provisional arrangements for moving-on from Staying Put. The majority of young people will leave Staying Put in a planned manner and move to a Southwark housing authority or housing association tenancy in the same way that other care leavers do. Individual arrangements should be set out the young person’s Pathway Plan.

Planned Move-On

Where young people decide that they would like to leave the Staying Put arrangement or the Staying Put carers decide that they would like the arrangement to come to an end, each party should give at least 28 days notice. The young person’s leaving care personal adviser will arrange for the young person to access suitable accommodation via Southwark Council housing department or partner housing association.

Disruptions

Where a young person displays unacceptable behaviour or participates in activities that are deemed inappropriate, an initial meeting will take place to review the Living Together Agreement.  If the presenting difficulties are likely to impact upon the stability of the Staying Put Placement then a stability meeting should be held to address how the placement can be supported to continue and in the event that the placement cannot continue a plan will be developed to support the move on arrangements for the young person. Support to both the Staying Put Carer and Young Person will be identified.  The principal of managing positive endings will be applied, when identifying the process for ending the staying put arrangements and planning the transition to an alternative provision for the young person.

Emergency and Unplanned Move-On and Evictions

Where a young person displays extreme behaviour and/or commits an offence against a person within the household they may be required to leave the Staying Put arrangement on the same day or within a short period of time. Wherever possible, a planning meeting will take place and will set out where the young person will move to.

The circumstances leading to the young person being required to leave the arrangement may result in the young person being deemed intentionally homeless. Additionally, leaving the Staying Put arrangement in an emergency and in an un-planned manner may limit the young person’s accommodation choices. In the short term they may need to live in a range of temporary accommodation. The Pathway Plan will identify the contingency plan in the event that a crisis move is required.

Non-Payment of Rent

In situations where young people do not pay their rent, either by not making the required payment or by not claiming housing benefit they may be subject to an eviction process. In all situations where a young person owes four weeks rent a disruption meeting will be called. The disruption meeting will decide on the action required by the young person to address the rent arrears. Young people will be given every opportunity to repay any arrears and eviction will only take place as a last resort in situations of rent arrears. The Living Together Agreement will be reviewed.

Tenancy Status – Excluded License

The tenancy status of young people living in Staying Put arrangements is that of an ‘Excluded Licensee’. Being on a ‘License’ and living in a household with the ‘landlord’ means that the licensee has very few tenancy rights and can be asked to leave the property with ‘reasonable notice’. Reasonable notice could be construed as having to leave immediately, where a person has acted in an extremely inappropriate manner, for example, violence towards members of the household, property damage, abusive/racist behaviour, theft from the property. 

The Staying Put policy and financial arrangements will be reviewed annually and updated.

End