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Staying Put

RELATED GUIDANCE

Staying Put: Good Practice Guide

Staying Put: What does it mean for you? (Catch 22 National Care Advisory Service - booklet for care leavers).

RELATED CHAPTER

Pathway Plan Guidance

AMENDMENT

In November 2016, the links were added to Related Guidance, above.


Contents

  1. Introduction and Statutory Framework
  2. Definition: What Is Staying Put
  3. Planning Arrangements for Extending a Foster Care Placement into a “Staying Put” Arrangement
  4. Roles of Those Involved
  5. Support for Young People
  6. Support for Staying Put Carers
  7. Financial Requirements and Personal Benefits for Young People
  8. Housing Benefit for Young People
  9. Housing Benefit for Young People - Guidance
  10. Monitoring and Reviewing an Arrangement
  11. Written Agreement
  12. Ending a Staying Put Arrangement

    Appendix 1: Timescales for a Staying Put Arrangement Chart

    Appendix 2: Staying Put Providers Agreement

    Appendix 3: The Staying Put Living Arrangements

    Appendix 4: Standard “Staying Put” Arrangement - Housing Benefit Claim Letter

    Appendix 5: Standard Benefit Claim Letter - Young Person Previously in Foster Care


1. Introduction and Statutory Framework

Staying Put aims to build on and improve the existing arrangements for young people in foster care to remain with their carers after the age of 18 and forms part of the Government’s vision to improve the life chances of children and young people in and leaving care.

Local authorities have a legal duty to support all staying put arrangements, with the only exception being if they consider that the arrangement is not consistent with the young person’s welfare. The statutory guidance refers to these as ‘exceptionally rare circumstances’.

In general, however, staying put arrangements are designed to:

  • Ensure that young people can experience a transition to adulthood similar to that of their peers, within a supportive family environment;
  • Ensure that young people are not obliged to leave their former foster family before they feel ready to move into greater independence;
  • Help care leavers to maximise opportunities for education, employment or training;
  • Reduce the likelihood of periods of homelessness;
  • Ensure that care leavers develop the necessary emotional and practical skills before they are required to live independently;
  • Reduce the likelihood of social exclusion;
  • There are no eligibility criteria for entering into a staying put arrangement, other than the young person being an Eligible child.

Staying put is about care leavers continuing to live with their foster carers when they reach the age of 18. Specifically, it is defined by the Children Act 1989 and refers to an arrangement whereby a young person, who when they became 18 was in law an Eligible child’ placed with a foster carer continues to live with that person.


2. Definition: What Is Staying Put 

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 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;

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.


3. Planning Arrangements for Extending a Foster Care Placement into a “Staying Put” Arrangement

  1. The Leaving Care needs assessment should identify the timescale required for young people to explore the plan for a young person when they are no longer ‘looked after’. The process will commence prior to a young person’s 16th birthday;
  2. A meeting will take place as part of the needs assessment to include the foster carer, supervising social worker, the social worker and the young person to establish the viability and likelihood of a ‘Staying Put’ arrangement occurring;
  3. The social worker will inform the Team Manager and Fostering Manager if a Staying Put arrangement has been identified as an option and is being considered by the young person and foster carers;
  4. The Needs Assessment will ordinarily be completed when a young person is aged 16 years 3 months;
  5. The Looked After Review following the completion of the Needs Assessment will discuss the timescales for the arrangement and monitor progress;
  6. A ‘Staying Put’ meeting should identify all the tasks required to extend the fostering arrangement into a ‘staying Put’ arrangement and will take place prior to a young person’s 17th birthday;
  7. A further ‘staying put’ meeting will be arranged when the young person reaches the age of 17 years and 6 months, and should ensure any final arrangements and requirements are in place prior to the young person’s 18th birthday;
  8. The outcome of the meeting should provide a report to agree the decision regarding extending a ‘fostering placement’ to a ‘staying put’ arrangement;
  9. A ‘staying put’ written agreement will be drawn up and agreed between the young person, foster carer, supervising social worker and the personal adviser. The agreement should cover the ground rules of the household and other matters which the parties feel are important.

Very careful consideration should be given to any proposal not to support the facilitation or maintenance of a staying put arrangement, and the reasons should be recorded and made clear to the parties concerned.

The needs assessment meeting should consider:

  1. Is it likely that the young person will fit the criteria for “Staying Put” when they reach their 18th birthday?
  2. Do the young person and the foster carer/s understand the criteria for, and associated procedures for extending a foster placement into a “Staying Put” arrangement?
  3. Does the young person understand their financial and benefit responsibilities associated with remaining in a “Staying Put” arrangement?
  4. Does the foster carer/s understand the changes in their funding arrangements associated with a “Staying Put” arrangement?
  5. 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?
  6. What is the contingency plan for the young person should the “Staying Put” arrangement not be viable?
  7. 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 criteria?


4. Roles of Those Involved

Staying Put Carer:

  • Provide a home for the young person;
  • Provide day to day support and guidance;
  • Ensure that the young person acquires the skills necessary for independent living, and knows where to go for help when necessary;
  • Assist the young person to develop the emotional capacity and self-confidence to manage through adulthood;
  • Participate in reviews of pathway plan.

Personal Adviser

  • Provide advice and support to the young person, in accordance with regulation 8 of the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010;
  • Ensure that the pathway plan is regularly reviewed;
  • Keep in touch with the staying put carer and provide advice and support as required;
  • Liaise with the local authority in implementation of the pathway plan;
  • Co-ordinate provision of services to support the young person;
  • Keep informed about the young person’s progress and wellbeing.

Supervising Social Worker

  • Provide advice and support to staying put carer;
  • If carers are also foster carers, consider the impact of this on fostering, address this through supervision and contribute to the review of their approval as foster carers;
  • Co-ordinate provision of services to support the staying put carer;
  • Ensure that the carer is receiving correct payments;
  • Participate in reviews of pathway plan;
  • Respond to learning and development needs of carer.


5. Support for Young People

Every young person living in a staying put arrangement will have their individual support needs, and these should be outlined in broad terms in their pathway plan and in more detail in the living together agreement.

Factors which young people say are important include:

  • Being listened to regarding their thoughts and wishes;
  • Keeping lines of communication open, and letting your thoughts and feelings be known;
  • Asking for help when needed rather than letting things build up;
  • Receiving emotional support from the carers, with the carers in turn being properly supported;
  • Being given increased responsibility;
  • Regular meetings between the young person, their personal adviser and staying put;
  • carer to talk about what is going well or not so well, and any extra support needs.

Support should be planned in a way which helps the young person to become gradually more self-sufficient, both practically and emotionally, over time. Staying put arrangements are intended to help to prevent young people who leave care at or before 18 from experiencing a ‘cliff edge’, whereby the support they need drops off dramatically.


6. Support for Staying Put Carers

When staying put carers are also foster carers they will continue to receive supervision and support in that role from their supervising social worker, who will need to take account of the fact that the household includes a young person for whom they are staying put carers. Wherever possible it will be most appropriate for the supervising social worker to be the person who takes the lead in supporting the carer in both roles.

The legislation requires that the support provided to staying put carers must include financial support. In order to consider whether or not they would be able to offer a staying put arrangement, foster carers need to be clear from the time it is first being considered about the financial support they would receive.

Staying put carers will need to know:

  • The amount to be paid;
  • When payments will cease;
  • Any arrangements for review of the level of payment;
  • What the payment is intended to cover, and whether it includes a fee element as well as an allowance;
  • If the young person is expected to make contributions and whether this will affect the level of payment;
  • Whether the carer’s allowance includes any payments which they are expected to make to the young person;
  • What happens if the young person temporarily loses their entitlement to benefits through imposition of a sanction;
  • How payments will affect benefit entitlement and tax liabilities and where to get advice.

In the case of a single carer, it should be borne in mind that when a young person becomes an adult this will affect liability for council tax if a single person discount was being allowed.

Family and friends foster carers can become staying put carers in exactly the same way as other foster carers. However, Housing Benefit cannot be paid to a young person who is living with a close relative (defined in the joint DfE/DWP/HMRC guidance) so this may mean that the local authority has to make different financial arrangements to enable family and friends foster carers to offer staying put arrangements.


7. Financial Requirements and Personal Benefits for Young People

Young people remaining in a “Staying Put” arrangement can, and are expected to claim a means tested benefit for their personal needs from their 18th birthday (from age 16, where possible).

All of the following benefits below (1 – 4) do not have any impact on the “Staying Put” carer’s welfare benefits, should they be claiming a means tested benefit. Young people commencing Higher Education courses at any age are not eligible to claim means tested benefits, with the exception of certain lone parents and sick and disabled young people.

  1. Young people can claim Income Support under the ‘Relevant Education’ rules if they remain ‘estranged’ from their family and are undertaking a full time (over 12 hours) education or training course which is under the higher education level. Young people can claim Income Support at any point prior to their 21st birthday and will continue to receive payment until the end of the academic year following their 21st birthday, i.e. generally until July following their 21st birthday;
  2. Lone Parents can claim Income Support until their child is 5 years old, Healthy Start Vouchers and a Sure Start Maternity Grant 11 weeks before the due birth date (the Sure Start Maternity Grant is only provided once for the oldest or first child). From the birth of their baby they will also be eligible to claim Child Tax Credits and Child Benefit. (Eligible and Relevant lone parents aged 16 & 17 can also claim the above benefits, but only from the birth of their baby);
  3. Employment and Support Allowance can be claimed in circumstances where young people are deemed ‘sick or disabled’. (If the young person fits the eligibility criteria this benefit can be claimed from their 16th birthday regardless of being section 20, or section 31, or living in foster care);
  4. Jobseekers Allowance where young people are registered as unemployed and are actively seeking employment.


8. Housing Benefit for Young People

All young people are expected to claim Housing Benefit from their 18th birthday which is used to cover the rent/accommodation element of the “Staying Put” arrangement.

Young people living in kinship “Staying Put” placements 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.


9. Housing Benefit for Young People - Guidance

From the age of 18 young people can claim help from Housing Benefit towards their rent where there is a liability to pay rent on a commercial basis.

Where meals are provided within the “Staying Put” arrangement, the method used to calculate the level of Housing Benefit is the 1996 Housing Benefit maximum rent rules relating to ‘Boarder’ arrangements. The amount payable will be set by the Local Rent Officer who will provide a Local Reference Rent or a Claim Related Rent. The lowest of these will be used to work out the amount of help given with their rent, less an amount for meals.

Young People are able to claim Housing Benefit even when their “Staying Put” carer/s are in receipt of Housing Benefit themselves. However, where carers are in receipt of benefits themselves, the non-section 23C element of the overall allowance will be counted as income from the “Staying Put” arrangement; this non-section 23C element will be treated as income from a ‘Boarder’.


10. Monitoring and Reviewing an Arrangement

The pathway plan provides a framework for monitoring. The young person’s Personal Adviser is responsible for co-ordinating the provision of services, and so has a central role in keeping in touch with the young person and monitoring progress, but it is important that they work in a way which does not exclude the staying put carer. This is likely to include regular informal contact with both the young person and the carer, and the appropriate frequency and arrangements should be discussed and agreed. There should be a meeting at least every six months to review the pathway plan.

The local authority has a duty to monitor a staying put arrangement it is likely that the Personal Adviser will remain best placed to co-ordinate the monitoring and they may feel it necessary to visit the young person more frequently than would otherwise be the case. In the event that the Personal Adviser or anyone else in contact with the young person has any concerns that they may need safeguarding, they should understand that these would be investigated by adult services if no children are involved.


11. Written Agreement

The purpose of a written agreement should be to clarify, where necessary the ground rules and matters which are important to the parties involved.

Prior to the commencement of the staying put arrangement the social worker will convene a meeting with the foster carer, young person and Personal Adviser to develop a Staying Put Agreement.

The agreement should be incorporated into the young person’s pathway plan.

The responsibility for drawing up the agreement will be with the social worker.

The Staying Put Agreement should cover:

  1. Preparation for independence tasks;
  2. The financial contribution that the young person will be expected to make to the household, also the management of bank accounts, loans and mobile phone contracts; 
  3. Income and benefits entitlement inclusive of bursaries;
  4. Friends and partners visiting and staying;
  5. Staying away for nights/weekends and informing ex foster carer of movements;
  6. Education, training and employment activities;
  7. Health arrangements;
  8. Move on arrangements;
  9. Issues relating to younger foster care children in placement, safeguarding, role modelling and time keeping;
  10. Specific issues to do with the needs of the young person including the management of risk taking behaviours;
  11. House routines and expectations of the young person in respect of chores, tasks and routines;
  12. Giving notice of ending the arrangement.


12. Ending a Staying Put Arrangement

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 will be convened.

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.

Since staying put arrangements are made through 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. In the event that the local authority regards the arrangement as not consistent with the young person’s welfare it may withdraw support, but it does not have the legal power to bring the arrangement to an end.

However, good practice would always be to make, and if necessary to end, arrangements by three-way agreement and the Personal Adviser would have a key role in helping to plan a move to an alternative living arrangement.

Staying put carers and young people should understand the circumstances in which either might want to consider ending the arrangement, and the implications for both parties should this come about. It may be appropriate to include requirements to give notice in the written agreement covering the arrangement.

As is the case in other families, ceasing to live together does not necessarily cut off ties and commitment, and unless there are good reasons to the contrary the staying put carer should still be helped to support the young person in the new circumstances.


Appendices

Click here to view Appendix 1: Timescales for a Staying Put Arrangement Chart

Click here to view Appendix 2: Staying Put Providers Agreement

Click here to view Appendix 3: The Staying Put Living Arrangements

Click here to view Appendix 4: Standard “Staying Put” Arrangement - Housing Benefit Claim Letter

Click here to view Appendix 5: Standard Benefit Claim Letter - Young Person Previously in Foster Care

End