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3.12.4 Children Looked After: Social Worker Leaving Care, Personal Adviser Roles and Responsibilities Protocol

AMENDMENT

This chapter was entirely replaced in July 2012 and should be re-read in full.

Please also see the Checklist of Roles and Responsibilities.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Policy, Practice and Guidance
  3. Care and Pathway Plans - Roles and Responsibilities
  4. Education, Training and Employment
  5. Health and Emotional Well-being
  6. Accessing Community Based Resources
  7. Placements, Accommodation and Housing
  8. Planned Placement Endings and Placements Endings in an Emergency
  9. Independent Accommodation
  10. Finance
  11. Setting Up Home Allowance
  12. Post Eighteen, Extending Foster Care - Staying Put
  13. Liaison with Family and Foster Carers
  14. Completion of the Islington Leaving Care Task Checklist
  15. Extending Life Story Work
  16. Joint Supervision, Contingency Planning, Case Resolution and Complaints
  17. Case Transfer Issues


1. Introduction

This protocol clarifies roles and responsibilities and expectations of social workers, leaving care Personal Advisers (PA), foster carers, supervising social workers, residential key workers and most importantly young people.


2. Policy, Practice and Guidance

Roles and Responsibilities - Service Commencement and Assessment

2.1 The Social Worker (SW) in the Children Looked After (CLA) team should complete a leaving care commencement of service form, when a child reaches the age of fifteen and four months. This is authorised by either the Deputy Team Manager (DTM) or the Team Manager (TM). This is to be sent to the TM of Independent Futures (I.F.) and copied into the 3 DTMs.
2.2 The TM of the CLA team and the TM for I.F will meet bi-monthly to discuss case commencement issues, the allocation of leaving care personal advisers, assessments, case transfer, and other issues.
2.3 The commencement of service form is used to provide basic information and to signpost where on the Integrated Children System (ICS) detailed background information can be found. The form should record placement location and any specific issues that may be relevant in selecting a leaving care personal adviser (PA).
2.4 The allocation of a PA must be made at the latest by the time is 15 years and 10 months. Following allocation a meeting should take place before the 16th birthday and must involve the social worker, their DTM and the PA and their DTM. The meeting should agree the process and timing of the introduction of the PA. This meeting is to be recorded on the pro forma format and entered on ICS
2.5 The social worker (SW) in the CLA team is responsible for co-ordinating and completing the leaving care assessment of need with information and leaving care advice from the PA.
2.6 The leaving care assessment of need should commence when a young person reaches the age of fifteen and six months and should be completed by the time the young person is 16 years and three months.
2.7 When a young person becomes looked after following their 16th birthday the leaving care assessment, must be completed within 13 weeks of becoming looked after (when they become an eligible child).
2.8 The SW in the CLA team should organise an informal introductory meeting to introduce the PA. Ideally the introductory meeting should take place at the young person’s placement.
2.9 This introductory meeting must include the young person, the SW and the PA and could also include the foster carer/s or residential social worker/key worker, supervising social worker and, where appropriate, members of the young person’s family.
2.10 The PA should explain the purpose of I.F, the leaving care assessment of need process and how this will inform the subsequent development of the young person’s Pathway Plan. The social worker is responsible for writing the pathway plan but with written sections contributed by the PA and agreed at the 4 way meeting. The PA should make a written contribution to the sections in the Pathway Plan concerning semi supported or independent placement, with particular reference to the post-18 move on plan; education, employment and training and the assessment of independence skills. The PA should also make a contribution to other sections of the plan as they relate to arrangements which will be required post -18. The ‘My Pathway Plan’ document should be completed with the young person and their PA, unless it is agreed otherwise at the meetings in Paragraph 2.4 and Paragraph 2.13.
2.11 The primary role of the leaving care personal adviser, prior to a young person’s 16th birthday is to get to know the young person, develop a positive working relationship with the young person’s network and to provide information about leaving care.
2.12 The SW in the CLA team (or SW in Independent Futures if this is a Southwark Judgement CLA) will hold case responsibility for young people until they cease to be Looked After and therefore the SW takes primary responsibility for co-ordinating and overseeing the care and Pathway Plan. As a broad principle social workers take responsibility for all placement, care and family issues and needs. PAs take responsibility for all leaving care, preparation for independence, move-on housing and accommodation, education, training and employment and financial and benefit issues and needs.
2.13 SWs and PAs should communicate regularly about the case. At a minimum, the SWs and the PAs and their respective DTMs must meet for a joint supervision at the midway point between reviews. This meeting must receive an update on implementation of the previous review decisions or a timescale for completion; an update on the progress of the development of the pathway plan; and address the ‘move on’ plan for the young person prior to age 18. This supervision record must be recorded on ICS by the case holding DTM under the drop down heading for type of contact as ‘Supervision case management’ and under reason for contact ‘Review decisions update’.


3. Care and Pathway Plans - Roles and Responsibilities

3.1

CLA Documentation; Care and Pathway Plans; Visits; Recording

This section sets out roles and responsibilities for SWs and PAs and lines of accountability. Flexibility is required to ensure young people do not miss out on appointments and activities in circumstances where either worker or team is exceptionally busy and a specific task requires completion within a given timescale.
3.2 The primary responsibility for all CLA documentation, care and pathway plans and invitations to statutory reviews rests with the SW.
3.3 PAs are responsible for providing verbal and written information up dates for care and pathway plans, particularly regarding leaving care, preparation for independence, move-on housing and accommodation, education, training and employment and financial and benefit issues and needs. See Post Eighteen, Extending Foster Care - Staying Put.
3.4 SWs and PAs should record all contacts, visits and actions on ICS. All discussions held in supervision of both workers and any actions are also to be recorded on ICS.
3.5 Social workers are required to maintain the departmental statutory minimum visits requirement of visits every 4 to 6 weeks.
3.6 The level of contact from the PA should be decided within the pathway planning process and will reflect the tasks and timescales set out in the pathway plan. It is known the frequency may change over time.
3.7 However at a minimum the PA should visit the young person in placement every 3 months and, if appropriate/agreed see the young person every 4 to 6 weeks. All visits and contacts must be recorded on ICS and headed by the PA via the drop down list of ‘type of contact’ as either leaving care contact (home) or leaving care contact.
3.8 Statutory visits are the primary responsibility of social workers. In certain circumstances and, when agreed by the DTM in both the CLA and IF team, a statutory visit may be undertaken by the PA and so recorded.


4. Education, Training and Employment

The primary responsibility for matters relating to education, training and employment rests with the PA. This includes organising the Personal Education Plan (post statutory school age), and the Education, Training and Employment Section of the Pathway Plan.


5. Health and Emotional Well-being

Responsibility for health related matters rests with the social worker whilst the young person is living in foster care, a children’s home or is placed at home and rests with the PA when the young person moves to semi- independent and independent accommodation.

5.1 The responsibility for co-ordinating and ensuring that the statutory health assessment is completed is with the social worker. 
5.2 Where young people require a health input such as a visit to a doctor or dentist it is expected that the placement provider will assist, i.e. the foster carer/s, residential social worker, and key worker or support worker. This will be the social worker when young people are living in foster care, a residential home or where young people are placed at home and will be the PA when young people are living in semi-independent or independent accommodation.


6. Accessing Community Based Resources

Responsibility for identifying community based information and support resources which can assist young people to make a positive transition from care to independent living is with the PA.


7. Placements, Accommodation and Housing

7.1

The responsibility for registering young people on the Islington housing register rests with the PA. Where young people are placed outside of the Islington area they should also be placed on the housing register in the area they are living. This task should be completed three months after their sixteenth birthday, or three months after becoming looked after.

However, the PA is to make clear to the young person that the placing of the name on the housing register at this time does not mean that they will then access local authority housing and that such housing provision will only be advanced and made possible when young people have been assessed to be ready for such provision.

7.2 Where it is identified that a young person would benefit from a period living in supported accommodation the responsibility for referring the young people lies with the PA.


8. Planned Placement Endings and Placements Endings in an Emergency

8.1 Where it is assessed that the young person requires a new care placement the primary responsibility rests with the social worker (planned and emergency placements).
8.2 Where the young person requires a semi-independent placement the primary responsibility rests with the PA (planned and emergency placements).
8.3 The responsibility for identifying and organising the placement will be the Placements Team, based on the SW/PA assessment of the young persons’ placement needs. 
8.4 Where there are differing views regarding the placement needs of individual young people, a meeting will take place and be chaired by the CLA Team Manager. The meeting should involve the SW, the PA and the DTM from IF and relevant professionals and foster carer/s or residential key worker. The ultimate decision regarding the placement requirements of the young person will rest with the chair of the meeting, giving due regard to the views of all those involved in the meeting and the care planning of the young person.


9. Independent Accommodation

Where a young person is moving to independent accommodation the primary responsibility rests with the PA for both the move and associated tasks.


10. Finance

10.1 Allowances for young people aged 16 and 17 living in foster care or residential care are covered by the finance policies relating to those placement types. For any items not covered by these policies agreement to fund is made agreed by the CLA case holding managers, depending on financial authority levels.
10.2 Allowances for 16 and 17 (and 18 - 21/24) year olds who are living in semi-independent and independent accommodation are set out in the leaving care finance policy. Agreement to pay outside of these allowances is made by the CLA manager who will consult with the IF manager.
10.3 Islington’s scheme of delegation sets out the level of payments that workers, DTMs, TMs and Operational Managers can authorise.


11. Setting Up Home Allowance

11.1 Responsibility for organising and purchasing Setting Up Home Allowance items rests with the PA who takes on the role of co-ordinating role and overseeing the use of the allowance.


12. Post Eighteen, Extending Foster Care - Staying Put

The primary responsibility for organising a post eighteen fostering extension (Staying Put) rests with the PA who will need to work with the fostering supervising social worker and foster carer/s.


13. Liaison with Family and Foster Carers

The primary responsibility for liaising with family and foster carer/s rests with the SW. The PA should regularly take part in liaison meetings and as the young person reaches the age of eighteen, the PA will need to take over responsibility for liaison with carers and family members.


14. Completion of the Islington Leaving Care Task Checklist

Completion of the Islington Leaving Care Task Checklist is an equal responsibility between the SW and the PA. The checklist should first be completed as part of the leaving care assessment and then at regular six monthly intervals. Tasks should be apportioned by care or independence need. Each task should be given a time scale and a key individual identified who will take responsibility for task completion. Additional tasks should be added as required and the Task Checklist should be reviewed during joint supervision.


15. Extending Life Story Work

15.1 Life story work should have been undertaken by the CLA SW. With the young persons permission their book is ideally to be shared with the PA, but it will usually remain in the possession of the young person. Life story work never ends and will be extended into transition to adulthood and leaving care. This on going work may be a shared task and who does what will need to be clarified in joint meetings and pathway planning. The PA may, for example, ensure that the young person has a photographic and documented record of moving to independence and a list of all previous addresses.
15.2 In addition to containing a summary of their care history and chronology of significant life events, the transition to adulthood and leaving care life story work should also include a summary of the young person’s health history and their family health history.


16. Joint Supervision, Contingency Planning, Case Resolution and Complaints

16.1 Six monthly joint case supervision meetings should take place to include the SW, the PA and their respective supervisors. This should ideally be the same session where the implementation of the review decisions are addressed (see Paragraph 2.13). It must be recorded on ICS.
16.2 Unresolved disputes between the SW and the PA should be addressed and resolved by the two DTMs, but if not resolved the matter can be referred up to line managers. The final responsibility for adjudication will be with the Head of Service for CLA.
16.3 If a young person has concerns regarding the tasks and roles and responsibilities of their SW and PA, an informal meeting should take place. If this does not resolve their concern the young person should be supported to make a formal complaint.
16.4 All sections of a young person’s Pathway Plan should have a contingency element that sets out an alternative plan or options should a dramatic change occur for the young person. Contingencies should also cover positive changes.


17. Case Transfer Issues

17.1 Case responsibility remains with the social worker until the young person ceases to be looked after; for the majority of young people this will occur on their eighteenth birthday. Between the age of seventeen and a half and eighteen the young person’s pathway plan should set out the case responsibility transfer issues. 
17.2 Immediately prior to a young person’s 18th birthday the social worker should set up a final Team Around the Child (TAC) meeting which provides a formal transfer/handover meeting. The meeting should involve relevant professionals and carers and cover the transfer of responsibilities from the social worker to the leaving care personal adviser, or other professionals.
17.3 At the point a young person ceases to be looked after, the entire case responsibility transfers to Independent Futures. ICS input is done by the exiting and incoming team. The CLA team should also then offer an exit interview to the young person.

End