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3.12.5 Staying Put


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. What is the Difference Between Foster Care and Staying Put?
  3. Who is Eligible for Staying Put?
  4. Decision Not to Support Staying Put
  5. Disabled Young People
  6. Safeguarding of Young People in Staying Put Arrangements
  7. The Funding of Staying Put Arrangements
  8. Arrangements for Young People in Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) Placements
  9. Safeguarding in Foster Care
  10. Insurance
  11. Challenging Decisions

    Appendix 1: Staying Put Process

    Appendix 2: Licence Agreement for Staying Put Arrangements

    Appendix 3: Roles and Responsibilities for Staying Put


1. Introduction

When a child who is living with a foster family at the age of 17 stays on living with that family after their 18th birthday this is called a Staying Put arrangement.

Islington Children’s Services recognizes the value of these arrangements for young people, and believes that Staying Put arrangements can:

  • Ensure that young people are able to experience the transition to adulthood in a way similar to other young people their age;
  • Ensure that young people do not leave their former foster family until they feel ready for greater independence;
  • Help young people to maximise their opportunities for education, employment, or training;
  • Reduce the risk of homelessness;
  • Enable young people to develop emotional and practical skills to live independently;
  • Reduce the likelihood of social exclusion.


2. What is the Difference Between Foster Care and Staying Put?

Although the personal relationships between the child and their foster family will remain as they have always been a number of changes follow from the fact that the child is now an adult.

Young people are no longer legally Looked After and fostering regulations no longer apply. The young person is no longer a foster child. They become an adult member of the fostering household.

The ‘placement’ becomes an ‘arrangement’ between the foster carer, the young person and Islington Children’s Services.

The arrangement for the young person to continue to have a room as an adult in the foster home is set out in a Licence Agreement between the foster carer, the young person and Islington Children’s Services. The standard Licence Agreement is available from the Over 11 fostering team. Young people and the Staying Put family may also want to make a Living Together Agreement to agree the “house rules” now that the young person is an adult. The supervising social worker and the young persons’ advisor can assist with this.

Whilst the Staying Put arrangement is supported by the Council, the carer should be visited, and offered advice and support from the fostering service to ensure that the arrangement continues to be right for the young person and the carer.

If the foster carer remains approved, the young person will need to apply for a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, through the carers fostering service. Although it may be inconvenient, it is a helpful document which might help a young person to get a job.

The carer does not have to remain approved as a foster carer when they are providing a Staying Put arrangement. However the council hopes that foster carers will wish to remain approved. A Foster care review should be undertaken before a Staying Put arrangement begins. This will enable the carer to fully understand the change in the arrangement and the implications of matching and safeguarding any new placement. Foster carers should continue to receive supervision, attend training, have annual reviews and continue to develop their skills.

Islington aims to ensure that the right support is in place for young people to remain with carers after their 18th birthday.

Note: Where a Staying Put arrangement is in place, the local authority, where appropriate, may consider delegating part of the Personal Adviser function to the foster carer (See Leaving Care and Transition Procedure).


3. Who is Eligible for Staying Put?

All young people who have been looked after for a total of 13 weeks after they reached the age of 14 and who remain looked after by Islington in a foster family up to their 18th birthday are eligible for a Staying Put arrangement after the age of 18.

Islington Children’s Services will work to enable Staying Put arrangements for all eligible young people where the arrangement is in the interests of the child, and where the foster carer is able and willing to support the arrangement.

The Staying Put arrangements may continue until the young person reaches 21, but can end sooner if the young person stops living in the household.

Early planning is critical to the success of the arrangement. There is a statutory duty to consider Staying Put when undertaking an assessment of the young persons needs within 3 months of their 16th birthday, to consider whether this would be in the young person’s best interests. The possibility of the arrangement should then be discussed privately with the carer and agreements should be recorded in the young person’s Pathway plan.


4. Decision Not to Support Staying Put

A decision not to support a Staying Put arrangement would be very rare and the reasons should be clearly recorded and explained to all parties. The decision should be based upon the best interests of the child. However, if the carer cannot accept Islington’s financial terms, the Staying Put arrangement may not be possible. The matter would then be referred to the 16+ Accommodation panel for a decision by the Head of Service for Looked After Children.


5. Disabled Young People

This policy does not replace the eligibility of disabled young people to transfer to adult services for ‘Shared Lives placements’. A Shared Lives placement with the previous foster carer could fulfill the duty to support young people under Staying Put.


6. Safeguarding of Young People in Staying Put Arrangements

Staying Put carers need to be clear how to respond if they have safeguarding concerns about an adult who is a former looked after child placed under a Staying Put agreement and where these concerns do not involve children. These may be concerns about referral to the Adults at Risk safeguarding team where the young adult lives. The issue of consent will be considered in relation to the mental capacity of the young person, if other people are at risk, is there is a legal restriction or overriding public interest, if the person is exposed to life threatening risk, if the adult at risk appears to lack mental capacity or impaired capacity, the local authority will assess the mental capacity as defined by the Mental Capacity act.


7. The Funding of Staying Put Arrangements

Islington foster carers are paid a fostering allowance whilst a young person is in placement to include food, clothing, savings for the future, support for books, hobbies and interests. Professional foster carers are also paid a fee. Foster Carers providing a Staying Put arrangement will receive a payment for the provision of support and care and for the provision of accommodation.

Upon reaching 18, young people will have their own income, either from wages from employment or an apprenticeship, or from income support and housing benefit if they are in Further Education or training. They will also receive some financial support from Independent Futures (IF) with their travel costs to their college or training provider. This income is taken into account when making the Staying Put arrangement. Young people are expected to make a contribution to the costs of the arrangement in the form of Rent and a contribution towards Food and Utilities.

The amount of Rent payable by the young person will vary in different parts of the country according to where the foster home is situated.

The recommended contribution of the young person towards Food and Utilities is £18 per week, but all families will make their own arrangements in this area.

The amounts paid under Staying Put arrangements are set out below:

Staying Put Scheme

Initial Staying Put Rate (up to the age of 19)
  • Foster carers receive £216 per week including the rent payable by the young person;
  • Professional carers will receive £317 per week including the rent payable by the young person;
  • The young persons’ own income will come from wages from employment or an apprenticeship, or from Independent Futures or welfare benefits. The carer will not be expected to give money to young people;
  • Young people aged up to 19 and studying in Further Education are entitled to receive the 16-19 Bursary from their college;
  • Young people aged up to 21 and studying in full time Further Education are entitled to receive Income Support;
  • Young people are also be entitled to additional financial support from Independent Futures (the Islington Care Leavers’ Service), including the cost of travel to their college or training provider and essential educational expenses such as books or equipment required for their course;
  • Young people will make a contribution towards the household costs of food and utilities (Recommended at £18 per week in 2014);
  • Carers will no longer be required to save for young people.

Supervising social workers will discuss the proposed financial arrangements with foster carers.

This initial Staying Put rate is payable up until the age of 19.

19+ Staying Rate (up to age 21)

From the date of the young person’s 19th birthday the Staying Put rate for all arrangements will be £216 per week including the amount of rent payable by the young person. Additionally, the young person will continue to contribute to the cost of Food and Utilities as agreed with their family.

The department is committed to achieving fairness in financial arrangements for family and friends carers. However, young people in former friends and family foster placement cannot claim Housing Benefit if they are related to the carer. Other foster carers may not be able to receive Housing Benefit on behalf of their young people because of their own tax and benefit or housing circumstances. Foster Carers in this position should discuss the financial arrangements with their supervising social worker.

Young people Staying Put continue to live as part of their foster family but as adults they will be expected to make a financial contribution to family costs from their personal income. This is because former foster children are entitled to their own income unlike their peers (other young people who continue to live at home). As noted above, formerly fostered young people are entitled to travel costs, 16-19 bursary and income support, as well as housing benefit.

Housing Benefit – Young People

When young person reaches 18 young people will have a License Agreement that sets out the arrangements for Rent, Utilities and for the provision of Support. Under the License Agreement the young person is liable for their rent.

If young people are working

If a young person is working then their income from employment is taken into account in their claim for housing benefit. Currently, young people who are working contribute 65% of their “surplus income” after deducting an amount for their living expenses. For example: A young person who is working and earning £100 (net income) per week would have to contribute about £21 per week towards their rent.

Young people will always be able to meet the costs of housing and travel to work, education or training and have enough money to live on contribute to household expenses through the current arrangements for financial support to care leavers.

Council Tax

If a young person is on benefits or a full time student and is living with a single carer the carers will receive a council tax discount of 25%. If the young person is working then the discount would be lost and the young person will need to pay their share of the Council Tax. The same arrangements apply as for Housing Benefit, with the young person being liable to pay only an affordable proportion of their “surplus income”.

19+ Staying Put Rate

The Staying Put finances change following the young person’s 19th birthday. If the young person remains living with their former foster carers after this point then the Staying Put payment reduces to a total payment of £216 per week including the amount paid by the young person in rent. If carers cannot accept the 19+ Rate at this stage or if the young person has particular additional needs, then the Staying Put provider should discuss this in good time with the supervising social worker and the circumstances can be considered at the 16+ Accommodation panel.

Tax for Staying Put Arrangements

Staying Put carers receiving money to enable them to care for the young person will not pay tax on this money as this is a Leaving care payment as set out in HMRC help sheet 236. The government has recently decided that all payments for Staying Put are included in the foster care tax relief threshold. This enables allowances and fees to be tax free, up to £10, 000 per year as a foster carer plus £250 per week for each young person over the age of 11, in addition to their own tax free earnings of approximately £10, 000 per year.

If carer is not working then tax would be offset against the personal tax allowance. If host carer is applying as a couple then personal allowance can be claimed by one person or split between the couple.

These arrangements apply to the age of 21 or until the young person completes an agreed programme of education or training being undertaken on the 21st Birthday. NB It will be the responsibility for carers to complete a HMRC self-assessment form if they are earning above the personal allowance threshold.

Benefits

Housing Benefit – Host Carers

Some carers may not be able to receive a payment of rent from young people because this will affect their own benefit or tax position. Family and Friends carers are not entitled to receive Housing benefit from a young person who is related to them. Supervising Social Workers should discuss the Staying Put financial arrangements with all their carers so that young people are also enabled to remain living with these carers in a Staying Put arrangement.

Supervising social workers should seek guidance from the LBI Income Maximisation Team as to how accepting housing benefit would affect a former foster carers own finances in each individual set of circumstances.

Some young people will not be eligible for housing benefit because of their immigration status and Children’s Social Care will then pay the fostering/supportive lodgings rent in most cases until the young person becomes entitled to their own income.


8. Arrangements for Young People in Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) Placements

Staying Put arrangements with IFA carers will be made in a similar way. The initial Staying Put Rate will be paid to support the arrangement until the young person’s 19th birthday and young people would be expected to make a financial contribution to the costs from their income in the same way wherever possible.

The maximum that would be paid to a former foster carer for a Staying Put arrangement would be £317 per week. Young people are expected to claim income support and housing benefit wherever possible with additional personal allowances provided by Independent Futures as noted above.

If IFA foster carers and agencies do not accept this figure as a weekly payment for the arrangement from the young person’s 18th birthday up until their 19th birthday, then a proposal for any continuation at a higher rate must be presented to the 16+ Accommodation Panel as early as possible after the child’s 17th birthday.

If the young person wishes to remain in the former foster home after the young person 19th birthday, Children’s Social Care would expect IFA foster carers to accept payments at the long term 19+ Staying Put rate. If this is not acceptable to the IFA then any proposal to continue the arrangement at a higher rate should be considered by the 16+ Accommodation panel.

Where university students need vacation accommodation carers will be asked to provide this service for the rent element of the supportive lodgings rate at £150 per week.


9. Safeguarding in Foster Care

Young people who remain living with their former foster carer after the age of 18 will be asked to complete a DBS check if the foster carer continues to be approved as a foster Safe caring agreements will be reviewed.


10. Insurance

Public liability cover will be in place to cover all the arrangements made by Islington and should cover any arrangements which come under Islington supervision from agencies. IFA carers should refer to their agency insurance. Clarity as to foster carers legal expenses cover is being established a national level.


11. Challenging Decisions

If the looked after young person feels that the Council has failed to provide appropriate support towards the Staying Put arrangement, they should be encouraged to speak to their Independent Reviewing Officer, or to their Personal Advisor, to request a review of their Pathway Plan. They should also be told about their right to make a complaint and to contact an independent advocate.

A young person in a Staying Put arrangement is also entitled to make a representation or complaint about the provision of support and this can be investigated under the children’s services complaints procedure. Foster carers are also entitled to make a complaint and if this relates to fostering, it must be investigated under the children’s services complaints procedure.


Appendix 1: Staying Put Process

  • Supervising Social Workers for in-house carers should explain the provisions of this policy to all their foster carers and discuss the general implications. This will ensure that foster carers are prepared well in advance of any request by a young person to Stay Put after the age of 18;
  • The Children’s Services Finance to send a letter to foster carers when young people become 17, stating that payments will cease at 18 unless other arrangements have been made and to discuss this with their supervising social worker as soon as possible so that alternatives can be considered;
  • Fostering service track placements at 17+ and ensure that foster carers understand the proposals and plan what they can offer;
  • That the above financial matters are treated as urgent at the age of 17 by social workers and supervising social workers and their managers and referred to the Placements Commissioning Performance Group meeting where arrangements cannot be agreed;
  • To move fee paid carers to Staying Put arrangements after the age of 18 with transitional payments to ensure that there is continuity of payment to ensure placement continuity;
  • That all carers are encouraged to accept housing benefits for young people over the age of 18;
  • That all personal allowances for 18+ come from Independent Futures or the benefit agency and the carer no longer gives money direct to the young person;
  • That where carers cannot accept housing benefit paid on behalf of young people that the Supervising Social Worker discusses the circumstances with the carer and alternative funding arrangements are considered;
  • If there is a plan for the young person to remain after the young person’s 19th birthday and if the carer cannot accept housing benefit, and it is considered to be in the young person’s best interest to remain in the household, the Placements Commissioning Performance Group meeting must be presented with a proposal to continue the arrangement and the funding required. This also applies where the council has not succeeded in providing an alternative in good time;
  • Resolve the issue of legal insurance cover for carers offering adult placements;
  • Communication strategy for all foster carers, social workers and supervising social workers.


Appendix 2: Licence Agreement for Staying Put Arrangements

Click here to view Appendix 2: Licence Agreement for Staying Put Arrangements.


Appendix 3: Roles and Responsibilities for Staying Put

Role of the Supervising Social Worker

The supervising Social Worker should explain and discuss this policy with all foster carers at the earliest date in order that all foster carers understand the framework for Staying Put.

Role of the Supervising Social Worker when a Young Person Turns 17

The supervising social worker should the discuss the finances of any specific arrangement if there is any question of a young person remaining after 18, so that the carer can make an informed decision about caring for a young person and consider the impact on their own finances and offer a clear message to young people about their future and to their social worker about what needs to be done:

  • Provide advice and support to Staying Put carers;
  • If carers are also foster carers, consider the impact of this on fostering, address this through supervision and contribute to their approval as foster carers;
  • Coordinate provision of services to support the Staying Put carer;
  • Ensure that the carer is receiving correct payments;
  • Participate in reviews of the Pathway Plan;
  • Respond to learning and development needs of carers.

Role of Social Worker / Personal Advisor when Young Person Turns 17

To discuss options when considering the pathway plan, i.e. if the young person wishes to remain in the household after 18, to ensure that this is communicated to the supervising social worker as above. It cannot be assumed that a carer will agree to a young person remaining without funding or that full funding will continue. If the matter cannot be agreed, it should be presented to the 16+ Accommodation panel. It is the social worker/personal advisors role to help the young person to apply for income support/job seekers allowance and housing benefit where this has been agreed so that payments start on the 18th birthday:

  • Provide advice and support to the young person;
  • Keep in touch with the Staying Put carer and provide advice and support as required, - In Islington the carer will be allocated a Supervisor from the Fostering service;
  • Ensure that the Pathway Plan is regularly reviewed;
  • Liaise with the local authority to implement the Pathway Plan;
  • Coordinate the provision of services to support the young person;
  • Keep informed about the young persons progress and wellbeing.

Supervision of Placements / Payments to Agencies for Foster Care Placements After the Age of 18

The placements at 18+ are no longer subject to regulatory arrangements, however good practice indicates that there will need to be some support to maintain stability. Supervisory visits will be every 2 months unless alternative arrangements are necessary and advice can also be given over the phone. Islington foster carers may attend fostering support groups or Staying Put carers support groups to access advice. The personal advisor will visit at a frequency as agreed in the pathway plan (and will always make at least one home visit every 3 months). Advice, assistance and support will be available from Independent Futures during the day and emergency out of hours support will be available from the Emergency duty team.

A supervision payment of £100 can be made to ensure that the foster carer receives some supervision until the young person’s 19th birthday. After this date, if the young person remains in the Staying Put arrangement then negotiations will take place about the supervision of the placement. Islington’s policy will be that advice can be obtained from Islington’s supportive lodgings service and payments can come direct from Islington. If agencies cannot accept the above terms, the matter should be referred to the 16+ Accommodation panel.

The Role of the Independent Reviewing Officer Until 18 Years Old

The Independent Reviewing Officer will review the pathway plan and ensure that actions taken by the supervising social worker, young person’s advisor and social worker are in the young person’s best interests and Staying Put guidance adhered to. If agreements cannot be reached within this policy the matter should be presented at the next 16+ Accommodation panel.

End