View Wirral LSCB Procedures Manual View Wirral LSCB Procedures Manual

5.7.7 Staying Put Procedure

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter provides specific guidance with respect to enabling young people to remain with their former foster carers when they reach 18 years. A young person may remain under the Staying Put arrangements until they are 21 and it is the duty of the Authority to monitor and to provide advice, assistance and support to such arrangements.

This procedure should be read in conjunction with the Staying Put Policy.

RELATED GUIDANCE

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 (HM Government, May 2013)

DfE, 16 to 19 Bursary Fund

This chapter was added to the manual in March 2016.


Contents

  1. Definition of Staying Put
  2. Planning for Staying Put Placements
  3. The Young Person’s Pathway Plan
  4. Eligibility and Duration of the Staying Put Arrangement
  5. Financial Support to Staying Put Carers
  6. Young Person’s Contribution
  7. Young People Attending University or Living Away
  8. The Process of Converting a Foster Placement
  9. The Role the Staying Put Coordinator Team
  10. The Staying Put Provider Agreement
  11. The Living Together Arrangements
  12. Ending of Staying Put Arrangements
  13. Children with Disabilities


1. Definition of Staying Put

From the age of 18 years old young people are no longer in care or ‘Looked After’ and therefore fostering arrangements and legislation relating to children placed with their former foster carers no longer applies. In circumstances where a former Relevant child remains with their foster carer after the age of 18 years this should therefore be deemed as a ‘Staying Put’ Arrangement.

The benefits of Staying Put arrangements for a young person are primarily about extending a familial relationship where the young person continues to experience security and stability. Young people who are in foster care should be able to benefit from Staying Put arrangements regardless of whether they are in education, employment or training before turning 18 years old. Where both the young person and foster carer agree to a Staying Put arrangement and where such an arrangement is assessed as being appropriate then all young people and foster carers will be supported to ensure that the Staying Put arrangement is pursued.

Staying Put arrangement represent an extremely positive post care option for care leavers and the importance of Staying Put arrangements for care leavers will be embedded into training, assessment and supervision processes of all long term foster carers.


2. Planning for Staying Put Placements

Social workers should start discussions with the young person and foster carers regarding the option of Staying Put as early as possible. There is no requirement on the length of time that a young person is placed with their foster carers before they are 18 years old for entitlement to a Staying Put arrangement. Where a Staying Put arrangement is agreed as the Plan for the child then this plan should be:

  • Integrated into the child’s Pathway Plan;
  • Ratified by an Independent Review and the reviewing process should be used as a method of tracking the progress of this plan.


3. The Young Person’s Pathway Plan

(See also Leaving Care and Transition Procedure, Pathway Planning).

The Pathway Plan will describe the details of the Staying Put arrangement and will identify how the arrangement will support the young person to develop:

  • Independence skills;
  • Relationship skills;
  • Financial and budgeting skills;
  • Self-care skills;
  • Engagement skills relating to engagement with training and employment.

The Pathway Plan will reference how young people can access their leaving care grant. It is recognised that the bulk of the grant would not be made available until the young person moves on to live independently. However, some items can be purchased from the leaving care grant whilst the young person is in the staying put arrangement, which they can take with them once they move from the Staying Put residence.


4. Eligibility and Duration of the Staying Put Arrangement

There is no requirement on the length of time that a young person is placed with their foster carers before they are 18 years old for entitlement to a Staying Put arrangement. In order to be eligible for a Staying Put arrangement the young person will need to be a former relevant child and the arrangement will need to be consistent with the young person’s welfare. The arrangement can continue up until at least 21 years old and up to 24 years if the young person is undertaking a programme of training or education.

An arrangement to Stay Put must be agreed by both the young person and the foster carer.


5. Financial Support to Staying Put Carers

The total package of financial support will generally match fostering allowances and fees made to carers when they were fostering in line with the foster care payments policy. Where the young person has commenced their thirteenth year of education in the academic year in which they turn 18, foster carers will continue to receive the same level of remuneration as before the young person was 18.

If young people are assisted to claim benefits the timing of these claims should not disrupt their education or exam period.

The young person will retain the first fifty pounds of their Job Seekers Allowance or Income Support. This will enable them to purchase things that would previously have been included in the fostering allowance, and is intended to enable the young person to develop budgeting skills. This would include clothes and toiletries, and should cover social and leisure activities. This will be detailed in the Living Arrangement Agreement.

The young person's income may come from:

  • Income support/Job Seekers Allowance;
  • Employment.

If the young person's total average income over a 6 week period exceeds £50pw they will be expected to contribute 50% of their income over £50 towards the placement costs, up to a maximum of £50pw contribution. Please see: DfE, National Minimum Fostering Allowances.

The financial package for the former carer will be equivalent to that received through fostering allowances and fees minus the allowances made to the young person to purchase clothing, transport & personal items.

This is made up of funding from:

  • Local Housing Allowance (LHA) - the amount varies according to area;
  • Any contribution from the young person, from income or entitlement to grants, allowances or benefits;
  • Wirral ‘Staying Put’ funding will make up the balance of the cost.

The young person may be able to claim income support or be entitled to a 16-19 Bursary Fund if they are in full-time education.

The young person can usually claim Local Housing Allowance and as a Care Leaver will be exempt from the single room rent restriction.

Local Housing Allowance will usually be paid direct to the young person and they will be expected to maintain arrangements to pay this to the former carer.

The young person should be advised that if they do not make these payments of LHA to the carers the Staying Put Co-ordinator will be informed and will consider any mitigating circumstances with a review to resolving this issue. If this can not be resolved it will result in the placement ending.


6. Young Person’s Contribution

If the young person is employed or has an income of more than £50 per week they will be expected to make a contribution to the ‘Staying Put’ arrangement. If a young person's income varies on a weekly basis, it may be averaged over a six week period to determine the level of the young person's contribution to the ‘Living Arrangement agreement this will be monitored by the Social Worker/Staying put Co-ordinator.

It is intended that this money will be managed by the young person and used for things like toiletries and clothes, which will previously have been provided for the young person by the foster carer, from the fostering allowance.

They would be expected to contribute 50% of the next £100 of their income, up to a maximum contribution of £50 per week.

The Social Worker will continue to encourage Young Person to access employment. This may mean the contribution from the Staying Put budget is higher as they may be unable to claim Local Housing Allowance.

Where a young person's level of income is so low that they are unable to contribute the former carer will suffer no detriment, and if necessary the council will make the provision where it cannot be found from another source.


7. Young People Attending University or Living Away

Living away from the foster carer’s home for temporary periods of time, such as attending higher education courses, should not preclude young people from remaining in a Staying Put arrangement. It is recognised that supporting Staying Put arrangements enables the continuation of familial relationships which gives the young person the security and stability they require whilst they are focusing on their education.

Payments to Providers of Staying Put Arrangements where the Young Person are Resident at University or Other Residential Study Establishment:

  • If a young person joins the armed services, the former carer can be paid a retainer while the young person completes the first three months of basic training;
  • During breaks from University or other residential study the former carer will be paid a pro rata payment based on the agreed payment for each 24 hour period the young person resides at the providers home. A retainer of £150 per term can also be paid.


8. The Process of Converting a Foster Placement

The social worker will complete the required Access to Resources Panel request document and set out:

  • Why Converting to a Staying Put Arrangement is in the young person’s best interests;
  • Whether the Social worker and Supervising Social Worker are in agreement;
  • If the Supervising Social Worker is not in agreement, the reasons why;
  • Whether the foster carer is in agreement;
  • Wishes and feelings of the young person;
  • Details of the statutory review that endorsed the decision to support a Staying Put Arrangement;
  • Details of the financial support.

In addition, the updated Pathway Plan should be presented to the Access to Resources Panel.

The Head of Service will make a decision on whether to support the arrangement.

Dispute Resolution Process

If the Head of Service declines to agree a conversion of a Foster Placement to a Staying Put arrangement (s)he will write to both the young person and the foster carer explaining why the decision has been made.

Where there is a disagreement between the Head of Service and either the child and/or the prospective staying put provider about the decision, the Head of Service will make it clear in his communication that either party can appeal against the decision to the Director.

The young person in making such an appeal can enlist the help of an Advocate.

Both the young person and the foster carer have the right to pursue a formal complaint about these matters. The letter from the Head of Service will explain the complaints process.

Finance/Payment process

Once agreement has been given to the arrangement by the Head of Service at Panel, the signed confirmation will be placed on the young person’s record. The young person’s social worker will make the team manager aware of the agreement and also forward the signed agreement to the fostering team manager, fostering payments administrator and staying put co-ordinator no less than 6 weeks before the young person’s 18th birthday to ensure there is a seamless transition from being a foster carer to a staying put arrangement.

The agreement will also need to be accompanied by a PB11, setting out the payment signed by the team manager and identifying the date of the Access to Resources panel that agreed the arrangement and finances.

Financial arrangements will be reviewed at a minimum of a 6 monthly basis, or earlier if there is a significant change in financial circumstances. The financial review should be linked to the agreement given by the Head of Service.


9. The Role the Staying Put Coordinator Team

The Young Person’s Social Worker will continue to provide support to the young person throughout the Staying Put process. They will complete the Pathway Plan and support the young person within the new arrangement with the former carers. The Social Worker will also ensure that the young person understands the terms of the Staying Put agreement. This may include reinforcing what the young person is expected to purchase from their Income Maintenance (JSA/Income Support or equivalent), supporting the young person to apply for relevant funding and benefits and helping them to establish a method of making any regular payments such as Local Housing Allowance to the former carer according to the terms of the agreement.

If other children are in placement, the Supervising Social Worker will continue to provide support to the carer for those children and fostering legislation will still apply the Supervising Social Worker's role will involve supporting the carer to understand the nature of the Staying Put arrangement and their entitlement to funding, and advise the carer about their changing role with the young person under the Staying Put arrangement. The Social Worker/Supervising Social Worker/Staying Put Co-ordinator will be able to provide ongoing advice about tax and National Insurance implications, and about personal liability insurance.

If the former carer is going to continue as a Foster Carer the young person in the Staying Put arrangement will need to have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check as they become an adult living in the home. This will require sensitive management and sensible negotiation.

The Young Person’s Social Worker will work with the young person to assess whether they will have to make a financial contribution to the cost of Staying Put. The Social Worker will also work with the young person to maximise their entitlement to benefits and calculate the amount required from the Staying Put budget. Consideration should also be given to ensure that applications for benefits do not discourage a young person from obtaining or maintaining part or full-time employment.

The Young Person’s Social Worker will ensure that all claims for benefits are submitted in a timely fashion that minimises any potential disruption in allowances being received by the former carer.

In relation to agency (independent) foster care placements there will need to be negotiation with the agency on a case by case basis to ensure a consistent approach is taken regardless of the placement provider. These cases must involve reference to the Department’s Contracts Team.

Former carers should be given information about the income tax and national insurance implications of the ‘Staying Put’ arrangement.

Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have stated that the same arrangements that apply to Adult Placement 'Shared Lives' carers should apply to former foster placements if the carer continues to provide support, and continues to receive the same level of payment.

(See also: Staying Put: Arrangements for Care Leavers aged 18 and Above to Stay on with Their Former Foster Carers (HM Government, May 2013)).

Adult placement carers are treated as self-employed for tax purposes and can pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions in order to qualify for basic state pension.

For carers who are in receipt of welfare benefits, advice should be given about whether ‘Staying Put’ payments will be disregarded or considered as income for means tested benefits. These payments may include:

  • Rent payments paid to the carer;
  • Payments from the young person to the carer;
  • Payments from Wirral to the carer (made under The Children Act 1989).

A young person may not be able to claim Local Housing Allowance if the Carers are already in receipt of Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance to meet their own housing costs.

Legislation regarding the treatment of payments to the carer is complex, and individual financial circumstances will vary. Therefore, it may be necessary for the Social Worker/Staying Put Co-ordinator to speak to the Local Authority Welfare Rights Section or advise the carer to seek specialist advice about their specific circumstances and the effect of the Staying Put arrangement on their tax, National Insurance, welfare benefits, and Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit.

If the carers are tenants themselves, the Social Worker must inform them to check their tenancy agreement and ensure that their lease allows them to convert to a Staying Put arrangement.

If the carers are mortgage payers the Social Worker must inform them to check whether converting to Staying Put arrangement is within the terms and conditions of their mortgage lender and insurer.

The Social Worker must also advise them to inform the Insurance Company providing their household insurance when a young person is no longer a fostered child but remaining in their home as, and to check that existing insurance arrangements still provide adequate household cover under a Staying Put arrangement.

Foster Carers are currently covered for legal protection insurance that is provided and paid for by Wirral Council in the case of an allegation made against them by a foster child. The Social Worker and Supervising Social Worker must ensure that the Carers are informed that this legal protection insurance cover does continue under a ‘Staying Put’ arrangement.

A Staying Put Co-ordinator will provide support to the former foster carers and also the young person and Social Worker/Personal Adviser.


10. The Staying Put Provider Agreement

Prior to commencement of the arrangement the Social Worker/Personal Adviser/Staying Put Co-ordinator will meet with the provider and draw up a Provider Agreement.

The agreement will make clear:

  • The expectations that are placed on providers (former foster carer);
  • The level of financial support they will receive;
  • The support that will be provided by the Social worker/Personal Adviser/co-ordinator;
  • The Provider Agreement will make clear the review process. The arrangement should be reviewed on a three monthly basis by the Social Worker/Personal Adviser/Staying Put co-ordinator to ensure the Provider Agreement and Living Together Agreement are working. Where fostered children are living in the household, the Supervising Social Worker should also be involved in the review.

The Provider Agreement will be signed by both the Provider and the Social Worker/Personal Adviser/co-ordinator on behalf of the Department.


11. The Living Together Arrangements

The Young Person’s Social Worker will in collaboration with the Supervising Social Worker and Staying Put Co-ordinator convene a Staying Put support meeting immediately prior to the young person's 18th birthday, and in collaboration with the young person and foster carer and the Fostering Supervising Social Worker complete a Staying Put Living Together agreement. The purpose of the Staying Put agreement meeting is for both the former carers and the young person to appreciate what is expected of each other.

All Looked After Children have a Placement Plan that sets out the day to day arrangements governing the placement and which is incorporated into the Care Plan. The requirement to have a Placement Plan ceases when a child reaches 18 years of age. In Wirral for Staying Put arrangements the Placement Plan will be replaced by the ‘Living Together Agreement’.

The Living Together Agreement should cover:

  1. Preparation for independence tasks;
  2. Finance, including management of bank accounts, loans and mobile phone contracts;
  3. Income and benefits entitlement inclusive of 6th Form bursary;
  4. The financial contribution that the young person will be expected to make to the household;
  5. House routines and expectations of the young person in respect of chores, tasks and routines;
  6. Friends and partners visiting;
  7. Staying away for nights/weekends and informing carers;
  8. Education, training and employment;
  9. Health arrangements;
  10. Issues relating to younger foster children in the placement e.g. safeguarding, role modelling, time keeping;
  11. Specific issues to do with the needs of the young person;
  12. The management of any risk taking behaviour;
  13. The Living Together arrangements should be completed in writing.

Where the Living Together Agreement indicates that there are significant levels of presenting risk taking behaviour a separate risk assessment management plan should be completed in consultation with the provider, young person, the allocated personal advisor and where necessary other agencies.


12. Ending of Staying Put Arrangements

It is anticipated that the provision of Staying Put arrangements will assist young people to move on to reside in fully independent living placements in a timely and planned way. However, where there is a risk of a placement ending in an unplanned way e.g. in crisis, a Planning Meeting should be convened which will be chaired by the Team Manager. The Planning Meeting should attempt to identify actions which enable the placement to be sustained until a planned move to suitable alternative accommodation can be arranged.


13. Children with Disabilities

For children with disabilities the provision of a Staying Put Placement can offer a very suitable 18 plus arrangement. Planning for Staying Put can be considered at an early age at the child’s Transition Review.

Staying Put can also be referenced at the Transition Operational Group chaired by the Team Manager, Transitions Team, and a referral completed at 16 and half years old. The Social Worker will discuss the case with the Transitions Team Manager.

At 18 years old the young person is eligible to a Fair Care Assessment and a Staying Put arrangement may form an integral part of the Fair Access to Care Plan.

End