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5.10.2 Staying Put Policy

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

A Staying Put arrangement is where a young person who has been living in foster care  remains in the former foster home after the age of 18.

RELATED CHAPTERS

Leaving Care Procedure

RELATED GUIDANCE

Staying Put - Arrangements for Care Leavers Aged 18 and Above to Stay on With Their Former Foster Carers – Government Guidance issued by the DfE, DWP and HMRC (2013)

Staying Put Good Practice Guide

Staying Put: What Does it Mean for You? (Catch 22 National Care Advisory Service)

AMENDMENT

In June 2015, the following note was added into Section 1, Introduction:

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 Procedure).


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Planning
  3. Living Together Agreements
  4. Legal Status and Safeguarding
  5. Support for Foster Carers
  6. Financial Implications
  7. Young People Attending University and Other Settings Away from Home
  8. Interface with Adults Services
  9. Ending of Staying Put Arrangements


1. Introduction

A Staying Put arrangement is where a Former Relevant child, after ceasing to be Looked After, remains in the former foster home where they were placed immediately before they ceased to be Looked After, beyond  the age of 18.

It is the duty of the local authority:

  • To monitor the Staying Put arrangement; and
  • To provide advice, assistance and support to the Former Relevant child and the former foster parent with a view to maintaining the Staying Put arrangement (this must include financial support), until the child reaches the age of 21 (unless the local authority consider that the Staying Put arrangement is not consistent with the child’s welfare).

Under the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010, Planning Transition into Adulthood for Care Leavers Guidance and Government Staying Put Guidance (2013), the Local Authority must provide information about extending placements beyond the age of 18. 

The intention of Staying Put arrangements is to ensure that young people can remain with their former foster carers until they are prepared for adulthood, can experience a transition akin to their peers, avoid social exclusion and be more likely to avert a subsequent housing and tenancy breakdown.

(Note that the term ‘arrangement’ should be used rather than ‘placement’ - the term ‘placement’ denotes a situation where the local authority arranged and placed the child with a foster carer. Once the child reaches the age of eighteen and legal adulthood, the local authority is no longer making a placement, but facilitating a Staying Put arrangement for the young person).

Consideration will need to be given to the impact on foster carers' approval and their terms of approval, including the numbers approved for, and whether this number includes the Staying Put young person. 

Young people living with foster carers supported by independent providers should be treated in the same way as those young people living with local authority in-house foster carers when consideration is given to a ‘staying put’ arrangement. Local authorities should have discussions with independent fostering providers at an early stage regarding the option of a ‘staying put’ arrangement. This discussion should include the amount of allowance the local authority will pay the former foster carer.

If a young person feels that his/her wish to remain with their former foster carer has not been properly considered by the local authority or they are unhappy with the way in which the local authority has acted, they may wish to speak to their Independent Reviewing Officer who chairs their reviews before they turn 18 and request a review of their Pathway Plan. The young person should be told of their right to use their local authority’s complaints procedure to voice their concerns, and of their right to have an independent Advocate.

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 Procedure).


2. Planning

Discussion should start with the young person and foster carer regarding the option of staying put as early as possible, ideally before the young person reaches the age of 16

If it has not already been done, the first Looked After Review following his or her 16th birthday should consider whether a Staying Put arrangement should be an option. This will entail assessing the implications for both the young person and the foster carer.

When carrying out an assessment of an Eligible child’s needs, the local authority must determine whether it would be appropriate to provide advice, assistance and support to facilitate a Staying Put arrangement.  Where they determine that it would be appropriate, and where the child and the local authority foster parent wish to make a Staying Put arrangement, then the local authority must provide such advice, assistance and support to facilitate a Staying Put arrangement.

The young person’s Pathway Plan (which may be superseded by a ‘living together agreement’ from age 18) should set out all of the practical arrangements regarding the young person remaining as a young adult in the Staying Put arrangement. It should set out the ‘ground rules’ of the household as well as the areas of responsibility that all parties to the arrangement are expected to fulfil. Many of these will be an extension of the expectations on them when they were a foster child. This will cover arrangements such as:

  • Preparation for adulthood and independence tasks;
  • Finance, including young people having credit cards, loan agreements and mobile phone contracts registered at the address;
  • Income and benefit claims;
  • Friends and partners visiting and staying at the address;
  • Staying away for nights / weekends and informing carers of movements;
  • Education, training and employment activities;
  • Health arrangements;
  • Move-on arrangements;
  • Issues related to younger foster care children in the placement, i.e. safeguarding, being a positive role model and time-keeping.

It should be assessed from the outset how the arrangement will help the young person develop the skills required for independent living once they move on. They should be supported to continue to develop a range of skills including:

  • Relationships - getting on with neighbours; understanding acceptable behaviour; when and how to communicate with relevant professionals;
  • Emotional Resilience - managing isolation and where to go for support. Building self-esteem;
  • Finance and budgeting - opening a bank account, safe borrowing and managing debt, understanding basic financial products, benefits and welfare reform; budgeting for priority bills, household appliances and everyday shopping on a budget;
  • Cooking - cooking healthily and on a budget; understanding nutrition and its  impact on overall health;
  • Managing a home - washing and ironing, cleaning, basic DIY, operating appliances and what is allowed within a tenancy; and
  • Applying for jobs - understanding strengths and areas for personal development; developing job skills, understanding job/volunteering pathways and support available; understanding bursaries and other financial support; where to go for advice; understanding the impact of work on benefits.


3. Living Together Agreements

Staying Put’ arrangements where the young person is looked after in a Calderdale foster placement are agreed by the Manager, Pathway Team. All arrangements will have a Financial Plan completed by the allocated Pathway Worker and approved by the Manager, Pathway Team. These arrangements will be approved at the earliest opportunity to provide security and stability for the young person and their foster carer.

‘Staying Put’ arrangements where the young person is placed with an Independent Fostering Agency will be considered and approved by the Resource Panel.

Once a ‘Staying Put’ arrangement has been agreed the young person’s Social Worker and Personal Advisers should meet to set out a Living Together Agreement.

This should set out what each party’s roles are and what expectations there are on each of the parties.

This should include:

  • Income and benefit claims;
  • Finance agreements around mobile phone contracts, loans or credit cards;
  • Developing independent living skills to move towards independence;
  • Education, employment and training times;
  • Health oversight;
  • Informing carers of their whereabouts including if staying away over night or weekends;
  • Partners or friends visiting or staying at the address;
  • Consideration of other young people in placement including any potential safeguarding issues.


4. Legal Status and Safeguarding

Following the young person's 18th birthday, the legal basis on which they occupy the property (former foster home) changes (the legal term is that the young person becomes an 'excluded licensee' lodging in the home) - this should not denote that the young person will be treated differently than they were as a fostered child. In addition, the carer may also become, and be deemed, the young person’s landlord/landlady.

The associated change from foster child to adult member of the household, and for the carer from foster carer to Staying Put carer, (technically the young person’s landlord) should be carefully and sensitively planned in order to ensure that both young people and the carer/s understand the nature of the arrangement and that the positive aspects of being in foster care are not diminished by the new legal and financial arrangements and terminology.

Where Foster Children are Living in the Staying Put Arrangement

Where fostered children are living in the household, the checks and requirements associated with fostering legislation will apply and will provide a framework for safeguarding and checking arrangements for the whole household.

In these situations the carer must remain an approved foster carer and the Fostering Services (England) Regulations and Guidance will apply with the consequential requirements of supervision, review and safeguarding. Whilst the fostering legislation will primarily apply to the placements of the fostered children, it does ensure that a system of approval, checking and supervision is applied to the whole household.

Additionally, where foster children are in placement, the foster carers will need to be returned to the fostering panel due to a change in circumstances as the child / young person Staying Put will have reached adulthood and become an adult member of the fostering household.

Young people remaining in a foster care household at the age of eighteen will become adult members of the household and will require a valid Disclosure and Barring Service check in settings where a foster child or foster children are living. To ensure that the check (and possible subsequent risk assessment) is completed by the young person’s eighteenth birthday the process will need to commence in sufficient time.

Where No Foster Children are Living in the Staying Put Arrangement

From the age of eighteen, young people are no longer legally ‘in care’ or ‘looked after’, and therefore fostering arrangements and legislation relating to children placed with foster carers no longer apply. Whilst legislation relating to fostering will no longer apply (if no foster child remains in the household), key standards should continue to govern the expectations of the Staying Put arrangement. This should include:

  • A system for considering if a person’s approval as a foster carer should be ended and for implementing the deregistration/termination process in circumstances where the foster carer is unlikely to be caring for any further foster children in the future;
  • A system for reviewing and approving the Staying Put arrangement and carer/s to ensure that the arrangement complies with local authority expectations;
  • Safeguarding and risk assessment checks on household members and in certain circumstances regular visitors;
  • Health and safety requirements (as a minimum this should comply with landlord and licensee/tenant requirements);
  • Regular supervision and support, possibly, from their fostering supervising social worker;
  • Opportunities to attend appropriate training.

Local authorities will need to assess individual circumstances and consider the appropriateness of all of these checks where the Staying Put young person is the only person living with their carer/s and it is not envisaged that further foster children will be placed.

In circumstances where it is clear that the carer will not be fostering any further children, it may be deemed appropriate to terminate their approval as a foster carer. In situations where it is possible that they may foster again in the future, it would be inappropriate to terminate their approval; given the length of time that re-approval would take. Where a foster carer’s approval is terminated, the local authority will need to ensure that the Staying Put arrangement continues to meet appropriate standards.


5. Support for Foster Carers

The local authority will discuss with the former foster carer whether they require any particular training and guidance to help support the young person. The type of support that a former foster carer will need to provide in a ‘staying put’ arrangement is likely to be different to that they provided when fostering the young person. It should be explored with the former foster carer the type of training and support they think they will require, particularly in helping the young person develop their independent life skills. Whether the former foster carer is from the local authority or an independent fostering service, careful consideration should be given to continued support which could include peer support.


6. Financial Implications

Whilst the level of financial support payable will depend upon individual needs and circumstances, former foster carers will be paid an allowance that will cover all reasonable costs of supporting the care leaver to remain living with them. Clear information will be provided to foster carers on the financial support which may be provided for staying put arrangements, in order to help foster carers plan well in advance whether they wish to participate in such arrangements.

When deciding upon the level of financial support payable, careful consideration will have to be given to the impact of the ‘staying put’ arrangement on the family’s financial position. The impact will vary from family to family.

It will be necessary to consider:

  • How extending placements will impact on the allowances provided by the Local Authority and whether other funding, e.g. funding for housing related support, will contribute to meeting Staying Put costs;
  • Whether additional allowances provided when the child was a foster child to ensure they were embedded in the family will continue, for example holiday allowances, birthday and Christmas / festival allowances;
  • Any financial contributions from the young person from their wages, salary, benefits or educational allowances. Depending on their circumstances, young people who remain in a Staying Put arrangement may be able to claim means tested benefits for their personal needs from their eighteenth birthday;
  • How the income tax, national insurance and welfare benefits situation of carers may be affected by post-18 payments;
  • Insurance issues including liability and household insurance. 

The local authority will explain to the young person their full entitlements, including how they will provide the young person with their leaving care grant once they move on from a ‘staying put’ arrangement and live independently.

The Staying Put baseline rate, payable to foster carers for 18 plus young people is agreed locally and is currently set at £138.88 per week. 

Requests can be made via Children’s Resources Panel should additional funding be required to support the placement and young person’s individual needs.

Requests should detail the specific additional needs and costings requested and a review date should be agreed.

For young people within Independent Fostering agency placements negotiations around rate to be paid should begin when the young person reaches the age of 16.

If the young person at 16 is entitled to claim Employment and Support Allowance they should be supported in doing so by their allocated Pathway Adviser.

Post 18 the young person should be supported in claiming Income support or job seekers allowance if applicable and they should also make a claim for housing benefit.

Agreements should be made around what contributions young people will make to the placement if applicable.

Independent Fostering Agencies

Where a young person is in an IFA placement and ‘Staying Put’ is deemed appropriate a three way meeting should be held between the agency, the Local Authority and the Pathway Team to discuss the ongoing funding element to the agency. This should take place a minimum of 6 months prior to the Young Person turning 18.

If beds have been blocked to support the young person’s placement this is likely to cease once the ‘Staying Put’ arrangement has been agreed if not sooner.

It would also be expected that should the former carers wish to offer future placements to other young people that there is a clear dialogue with the Local Authority prior to placements being agreed.

‘Staying Put’ Education and Training

If a young person is completing G.C.S.E, A level, training or an equivalent full time course funding for the ‘Staying Put’ arrangement continues until the 30th September on completion or the young person’s 21st birthday whichever comes first. This date is agreed to allow young people to complete their training or education and support a smooth transition to independence or adult services. This is to ensure stability for young people and to support them into higher education.

The ‘Staying Put’ provision enables young people to complete up to 2 years full time education or further training to remain with their carers until around their 20th birthday.

Young people therefore will be able to remain with their former carers for up to 2 years to enable them to complete their training or education course which commenced on their 18th birthday. The ‘Staying Put’ arrangement would cease on the 30th September after completion of the course or 1 month after course completion.

The criteria for applying ‘Staying Put’ for Education and Training is as follows:

  1. The training or education course must be full time;
  2. The extension would apply to young people whose 18th birthday falls in March and they are undertaking a 2 year course;
  3. The extension applies to the level of the GNVQ or NVQ course the young person is attending on their 18th birthday. This therefore means that the extension runs until the completion of their course;
  4. The extension will cease when the young person leaves the course;
  5. Where a young person completes G.C.S.E or A level and is not undertaking a university course the extension will end one month following completion. This would also apply to young people undertaking training;
  6. For young people who remain under a ‘Staying Put’ arrangement and are to undertake a university course or plan to return to their placement over holiday periods a meeting would need to be convened to look at practical and funding issues;
  7. All these where the young person is placed with an Independent Fostering Agency should be presented to the Children’s Resource Panel for agreements to be made. For young people placed with Calderdale foster placements approval will be given by the Manager, Pathway Team, and a Financial Plan setting out the payments will be completed by the Pathway Team worker.

The panel will need to know the following:

  • School / college details;
  • Course details and level of qualification;
  • Dates of training and completion dates;
  • Attendance confirmation and young person’s level of commitment;
  • Employment predictions at the end of the course.

‘Staying Put’ Higher Education

This would be classed as a ‘University Arrangement’ and would enable young people to remain with their former foster carers to attend higher education.

The criteria for such an arrangement are as follows:

  1. The weekly allowance for carers over holiday periods should the young person wish to return will be agreed at Children’s Resource panel;
  2. This payment will cover the costs for providing accommodation for the young person;
  3. Calderdale Council will be responsible for funding accommodation and living costs. Young people do need to take the maintenance loan as well as the £9000 tuition fee loan;
  4. In general terms young people with Higher Education settings are not in a position to claim means tested benefits. Young people who fall under the Disability Act may be entitled to claim as single parents.

‘Staying Put’ Vulnerability

Young people can be considered for ‘Staying Put’ due to vulnerability concerns. These could include maturity delay around emotional needs, practical needs and risk taking behaviours and must be evidenced as to how ‘Staying Put’ could support these.

Young people who are classed as vulnerable should be referred to Children’s Resource Panel on their 17 ½ th birthday. The report presented to panel should include what additional support post 18 to develop their independent living skills and to ensure maintenance of benefits and or training and employment.

If the young person is under adult care services or mental health team panel need to be aware of what each young person’s individual needs are and what risks are posed.

This could include:

  1. Self harm;
  2. Risk of sexual exploitation;
  3. Physical disabilities;
  4. Learning disabilities;
  5. Mental health issues;
  6. Substance and alcohol misuse.

‘Staying Put’ Disability

Where a young person has been assessed jointly by adult services and the Pathway Team and it is deemed ‘Staying Put’ is in their best interests this should then be converted into an adult placement utilising the Shared Lives Scheme funded by Adult Services.

Young people are able to claim Employment and Support allowance post 16. This therefore means that their pocket money, clothing allowance and personal allowance will cease.

Housing benefit can and should be claimed at the age of 18 unless the placement is with family members under a kinship arrangement where housing benefit can NOT be claimed.

The young person’s education statement will cease at the end of year 13. The assessment for adult services should commence approximately 6 months prior to this ending.

‘Staying Put’ Planned move on

A small number of our young people are awaiting the allocation of their own tenancy. Where young people are enrolled in housing and are actively bidding on properties they can be considered for ‘Staying Put’. This extension can last for a 3 month period whilst allocation of a house is identified.

The young person needs to be registered with Pennine Housing and be actively involved in the provision of Doorways.

When a young person is placed outside of the Calderdale area they still need to remain registered with Pennine Housing and also the Local Authority housing where they are placed.

Young people generally can apply for housing post 16 and therefore should be in a position to secure a tenancy prior to their 18th birthday.

The Children’s Resources Panel will need a clear report outlining why the young person has not been matched with appropriate accommodation at 18. It will also have to be evidenced that they have been actively bidding on properties and what the outcomes have been. The panel will also need to know what banding the young person is under and how this may affect timescales.

Means Tested Benefits

Where:

  • A young person continues to reside with their former foster carer after their eighteenth birthday on a non-commercial and familial basis; and 
  • The child was Looked After immediately prior to their eighteenth birthday; and 
  • The payments are made by the local authority to the carer under section 23C of the Children Act 1989 (continuing functions in respect of former relevant children);

then the payments are disregarded in calculating the carers’ entitlement to means-tested benefits. 

When a commercial arrangement is made, (i.e. any element of the cost of the arrangement comes from a source other than section 23C), the non-section 23C element will be taken into account in the calculation of the carer’s own means-tested benefit claim.  

Additionally, the disregard is lost on the whole payment (section 23C and non-section 23C elements) when the young person first leaves the Staying Put arrangement, should the young person return to their former foster / Staying Put carer or move to another carer after their eighteenth birthday.

Benefits for Young People

Young people under the ‘Staying Put’ arrangement are entitled to claim means tested benefits post 18. This replaces their pocket money and clothing allowances. Young people in higher education are NOT eligible to claim means tested benefits. Post 19 Young people can claim benefits up to the end of the end of the academic year in which they turn 21.

Different benefits apply for young people who are single parents or fall under the disability criteria:

  1. ‘Relevant Education’ rules state that any young person estranged from their family are entitled to claim Income Support if they are in education or training on a full time basis;
  2. Jobseekers allowance can be claimed when young people are unemployed and actively seeking employment;
  3. Lone parents can claim Income support up until their child is 5 years of age. They can also claim child benefit and tax credits;
  4. Young people who are classed as ‘sick or disabled’ can also claim Employment and Support Allowance from their 16th birthday regardless if they are section 20 accommodated or under a section 31 Care Order.

Housing Benefit / Universal Credit

There may be Housing Benefit implications as a result of Staying Put Arrangements.  Housing Benefit is, however, being replaced by Universal Credit.  Individual advice will therefore need to be obtained

Housing Benefit

All young people within a ‘Staying Put’ arrangement would be expected to claim hosing benefit from their 18th birthday. This would be directly paid to the Young Person to fund the accommodation costs of the ‘Staying Put’ agreement.

Exemptions from this would include young people in kinship placements under a ‘Staying Put’ arrangement. For example placements with relatives or extended family members.

If carers themselves are in receipt of means tested benefits towards their rent young people will NOT be expected to claim housing benefit.

Council Tax and Council Tax Benefit

The position regarding Council Tax will vary depending on the circumstances of the carers, the number of adults in the household and the activity that the young person is engaged in.

Young people undertaking full time education are ‘invisible’ for council tax purposes.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Income Tax and National Insurance

For HMRC purposes only, there is a broader definition of ‘Staying Put. A ‘Staying Put’ carer (for HMRC purposes only) does not need to be a registered foster carer or former foster carer. This means that young people are able to return to a different Staying Put carer between the age of 18 and 21 (or until the completion of an education or training course) - for example during a university vacation. 

Where a Staying Put arrangement meets the HMRC qualifying criteria (and where the young adult continues to be cared for as a member of the carer’s family) the Income Tax and National Insurance rules that apply to foster carers are extended to Staying Put carers. The young people are required to share the Staying Put carers’ home and daily family life during the placement’ i.e. live as a ‘member of the carer’s family’. This system provides for foster carers and / or Staying Put carers to earn up to a given amount without paying Income Tax or Class 4 National Insurance Contributions on their caring income.

The Income Tax free allowance consists of two elements. Firstly, a fixed amount per foster care or Staying Put household per. Secondly, an additional amount per week per child. 

Where there is more than one paid Staying Put carer in the household, the allowance is shared equally by both carers.

The tax free allowance only applies to the Staying Put carer’s income from caring. If they have income from other sources, they will pay tax on that income in the normal manner.

Individual carers can consult their local HMRC office for guidance on their circumstances and liabilities.

For National Insurance Contributions purposes, in practice HMRC will treat the taxable profit from foster care or Staying Put care as earnings from self-employment. Foster care and Staying Put care is deemed as self-employment and as such carers should register as self-employed. All self-employed people aged 16 and over who are below State Pension age are liable and must register to pay Class 2 National Insurance Contributions.

Insurance (Including Liability and Household Insurance) 

Staying Put carers will be provided with information about liability insurance cover in situations where Staying Put young people may make an allegation against a foster child in placement, or against their Staying Put carer/s, or an allegation is made against the Staying Put young person.


7. Young People Attending University and Other Settings Away from Home

Living away from the former foster carer’s home for temporary periods such as attending higher education courses should not preclude a ‘staying put’ arrangement. This might include a residential further education institution; undertaking induction training for the armed services or other training or employment programmes that require a young person to live away from home.


8. Interface with Adults Services

The Staying Put framework is aimed at former relevant children who require an extended period with their former foster carer/s due to delayed maturity, vulnerability and / or in order to complete their education or training. Where young people have an on-going cognitive disability and meet the adult services Fair Access to Care Services criteria (Putting People First), foster placements should be converted to Adult Placements / Shared Lives Arrangements when the child reaches their eighteenth birthday. This is important to ensure that both the young person and the carer have a formal regulatory and safeguarding framework that addresses their respective needs.


9. Ending of Staying Put Arrangements

The Staying Put arrangement extends until:

  • The young person leaves the Staying Put arrangement;

    or
  • The young person reaches their twenty-first birthday.

Local authorities may wish to continue supporting a young person beyond age 21 if it meets their individual needs, such as finishing their course of education.

The local authority will want to ensure that the end of a ‘staying put’ arrangement is not another ‘cliff edge’ for the young person but a gradual transition to independent living

Procedures should be agreed at the outset about how any wish by the carer to bring the arrangement to an end should be managed. An excluded licensee can be asked to leave the property by the Staying Put carer, who must give ‘reasonable notice’. In extreme circumstances it may be considered reasonable for the carer to give very short notice and ask the young person to leave on the same day. The social worker/personal adviser should discuss with the young person their transition from such an arrangement to another type of accommodation and agree the type of support the young person will require. These arrangements should be developed alongside joint protocols with the housing authority, setting out how access to social housing and care leavers ‘priority need’ status will be discharged.

End