This outlines how we will meet the needs of a young person after they leave care and will make sure that the important aspects of a young persons life are addressed:
- Health and development
- Education, training or employment
- Support available from family and others
- Financial needs
- Level of skills in readiness for independence
- The young person's needs for care, support and accommodation
The plan will run until the young person is at least 21yrs and will be reviewed at 6 monthly intervals. This can extend until 24 yrs if the young person is pursuing further education.
We always aim to become involved in the planning for leaving care when a young person reaches 15 yrs 6mths. The young person's Social Worker invites a Leaving Care worker, to attend a statutory review to meet the young person and give information about leaving care.
At this review if the decision is that the young person will live independently upon leaving care, a Personal Advisor is appointed from the team to become involved. They will begin work preparing the Pathway Plan with the young person and help guide them through the leaving care process. They will play a key co-ordinating role in respect to education, training and employment and will be able to advise about accommodation options.
The Advisor will remain involved in the long term and will certainly be a key figure in helping the young person to prepare and plan for their future. The Advisor will continue to be responsible after the young person leaves care and will remain involved for as long as there is an assessed need. It is our uppermost intention to ensure that any changes are known about as early as possible and are managed sensitively and positively.
A duty has now been placed upon departments to keep in touch with young people up to the age of 21 yrs, which includes taking reasonable steps to re-establish contact if it is lost. Additionally those pursuing further education/training will continue to have contact up until 24 yrs.
One of the most significant aspects of the new Act is the removal of benefit entitlement for Relevant Children (young people aged 16 and 17 who have been looked after for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14 and who have left care). This is designed to remove the perceived incentive for local authorities to "encourage" young people to leave care at 16 therefore moving the financial responsibility to the agencies providing state benefits.
These young people (with a few exceptions) will no longer be able to claim Housing Benefit, Job-Seekers Allowance or Income Support. Although the local authority will be given some flexibility in interpreting their financial responsibility, these young people should receive a level of support that does not come to less than they would have been eligible for if they could have claimed benefits.