Staying Put

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

See also: Local Resources for relevant forms and templates.

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

AMENDMENT

In July 2021 this guidance was reviewed and updated throughout to reflect Calderdale policies and processes for managing Staying Put arrangements.

1. Overview

The primary aim of Staying Put is to promote a gradual transition from care to adulthood and independent living that recognises that many young people in care often experience delayed maturity, and that their 18th birthday may be an arbitrary and inappropriate point to leave a familial and foster care household. The Staying Put scheme is designed to ensure that young people do not experience a sudden disruption to their living arrangements, that educational and training achievement and continuity is promoted, and that all young people can make a gradual transition from care to independence or to an Adult Service. The scheme applies to both Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council’s foster carers and Independent Foster Carers.

The procedures outlined in this document are applicable to all young people looked after by Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council on their eighteenth birthday, unless an exemption is in place due to the young person becoming 18 years before the end of the academic year, whether they are living with Council approved foster carers or Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) carers.

This Policy also applies to Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC) who reach the age of 18. However, in circumstances where the young person is awaiting a ‘Removal Notice’ continued financial support must be reviewed on a case by case basis.

Young people who are in residential placements are not covered by the Staying Put Policy.

2. 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 carer 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) and beyond 21 to enable the young person to complete their education.

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 18 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. 

Requests for young people placed in Independent Fostering Agency to Stay Put will be considered against the same criteria as CMBC approved foster care placements. The social worker or personal assistant will be expected to work with the young person, carrying out the same tasks, as they would when working with a local authority approved 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).

3. 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.

  1. 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;
  2. 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;
  3. The primary aim of Staying Put is to promote a planned transition from care to independent living that recognises that many young people in care experience this as a challenging time, and that their eighteenth birthday may be an arbitrary and inappropriate point to leave foster care. Therefore the policy is designed to ensure young people do not experience a sudden disruption to their living arrangements, that educational achievement and continuity is promoted and that young people can make a gradual transition from care to independence.

    Where a foster carer continues to offer foster placements alongside the Staying Put arrangement, the foster carer will continue to be supervised and supported by their Supervising Social Worker. The young person will continue to be supported by their personal advisor. A foster carer review will be presented to Foster Panel in order to change the carer’s approval to reflect this arrangement.

    Young people remaining with a foster carer post eighteen under a Staying Put arrangement will become adult members of the household and will require a valid DBS this process will need to be concluded by the young person’s 18th birthday.

Where a staying put carer does not continue to foster other children and young people they will receive support from the Pathways Leaving Care Team. A review will be presented to Foster Panel in order to change the carer’s approval to reflect the Staying Put arrangement and to deregister the carer as a foster carer.

The Personal Advisor will continue to provide support to the young person for the duration of the Staying Put arrangement. They will complete Pathway Plans and annual reviews of the Staying Put agreement to ensure that the young person understands the terms of the Staying Put Agreement and reflect in any changes in financial circumstances.

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

6.1 Foster Carers

Former foster carers should be given information about Income Tax, National Insurance implications arising arising from the Staying Put arrangement. Former carers can no longer use the “foster carer relief scheme” but there are some tax concessions for adult placement schemes.

Staying Put carers are likely to be able to use the HMRC Qualifying Care Relief for Income Tax and national Insurance purposes. Further information can be found on HM Revenue and Customs website.

Staying Put carers have responsibility to research and establish their own tax and national Insurance liabilities. Further information can be found on the Fostering Network website.

Payments made to young people and passed to former foster carers from section 23C (Children Act 1989) are disregarded in the assessment of the former foster carer/s’ income for benefit purposes, if the young person was formerly in the claimant’s care, is aged 18 or over and continues to live with the claimant within a non-commercial family type arrangement.

If the carers are tenants themselves, it is advised that they check their tenancy agreement to ensure that their lease allows them to have a lodger. If the carers are mortgage payers, it is advisable for them to check that having a lodger is within the terms and conditions of their mortgage lender and insurer. It is also advised that carers inform the insurance company that provides their household insurance when a young person is no longer fostered but remains in their home in a Staying Put arrangement. They should check that existing insurance arrangements still provide adequate household cover.

Staying Providers will receive a maximum of £235.00 per week:

  • £142.70 per week Staying Put Allowance – provided by CMBC;
  • £ 86.30 per week – housing benefit or rent payment paid anby young person (or paid by CMBC if neither of these is applicable);
  • £ 6.00 per week – minimum 10% of young person’s income.

Staying Put allowance provided by CMBC is to cover all reasonable costs of supporting the care leaver to remain living with them. In addition to the Staying Put Allowance, providers will receive “rent” this will be provided to Staying Put provider by either:

  • Housing benefit claimed by the young person or
  • Housing benefit and/or income from the young person if they are undertaking an apprenticeship or training programme (dependent on the level of income)
  • Income from young person if they are in employment (dependent on the level of income)
  • CMBC if the young person is not working and cannot claim benefit (e.g. living at home and studying at University.

The young person is expected to contribute 10% of their income per week towards food and shared living expenses, this will be a minimum of £6.00 per week. Where the young person is in employment they will pay the provider the equivalent of housing benefit up to a maximum of £86.30 per week, this will be dependent on the level of income and agreed and documented in the Staying Put Agreement.

It is the responsibility of the young person to pay this amount and it will be written into the individual Staying Put agreement. Failure by the young person to contribute may be put their Staying Put arrangement at risk. There will always need to be a discussion about how the young person will be able to make the required contribution.

In circumstances where the young person has documented additional needs, for example a complex disability, and where the fair pricing tool for adult placements indicates that an additional payment is required, the relevant Service Manager may agree an enhanced payment.

All Staying Put agreements will reflect the individual circumstances/finances of the young person and will be reviewed annually.

In exceptional circumstances, and in order to reduce the moves of young people whilst they complete their school or college course, it will be necessary to continue to pay a foster carer age-related fostering allowance as well as any Skill Level fee they are receiving (plus any birthday or festival allowances that would be due) until the young person completes school or college after their 18th birthday. This will usually be until the course or examinations end in the summer following the young person’s 18th birthday, after which Staying Put arrangements will be put in place as outlined above. Approval for extended foster carer payments must be given by the appropriate Service Manager in good time to ensure the young person does not experience additional pressure when preparing for examinations.

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.

Foster carers can also access independent advice on this from the Fostering Network.

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 18th 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.

6.2 Young Person

The option of Staying Put should be identified through the Care and Pathway Planning processes, no less than 6 months before a young person’s 18th birthday. The social worker, working closely with the Personal Advisor where appropriate, has the responsibility to lead on the Staying Put arrangement.

A Staying Put arrangement must be agreed by the young person and the foster carer. Advice about the differences in the arrangement from a foster placement should be provided for the young person by their social worker and for the carer by their supervising social worker. This means that an informed decision to go ahead with the Staying Put arrangement can be made. Occasionally, young people or carers may change their minds after making a decision about a Staying Put arrangement and it is important that such changes are taken into account whilst paying attention to avoid disruption to a young person’s education or employment.

The social worker or personal advisor will work with the young person to explain the financial contribution to the Staying Put arrangement and will also work with the young person to ensure they receive all the benefits to which they are entitled. They will also ensure that all benefit claims are made in a timely fashion that minimises any possible disruption to the allowances received by the Staying Put carer. The social worker or personal advisor, working with the young person, will follow up claims for benefit until a decision has been made and payment starts.

The social worker or personal advisor will convene a Staying Put support meeting immediately before the young person’s 18th birthday in order to complete the Staying Put agreement and licence agreement (if applicable). These documents make it clear to everyone about what is expected of them. In addition, the social worker or personal assistant will complete the finance document which will ensure allowances are paid once fostering finances end.

6.3 Approval

All arrangements are subject to approval and subsequent review by Permanence Panel.

The Staying Put allowance payable to foster carers for 18 plus young people is agreed locally and periodically reviewed.

Where the young person remains with their former CMBC foster carer under a Staying Put arrangement, agreements should be completed by the allocated social worker together with the Personal Advisor before being submitted to the Permanence Panel for approval.

Requests for young people placed in Independent Fostering Agency to Stay Put will be considered against the same criteria as CMBC approved foster care placements.

The Integrated Commissioning Team will ensure that the Staying Put Policy is circulated to all IFA providers on and off the White Rose Framework so that they are fully informed of the financial arrangements under this policy.

If additional funding is required in exceptional cases to support the placement and young person's individual needs, this should also be agreed at the Permanence Panel. Requests should detail the specific additional needs and costings together with review dates.

6.4 Young People Attending University and other Settings away from Home

For young people attending University and other settings 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.

The Staying Put agreement should include details of any retainer to be paid to the carer in these circumstances.

The retainer fee is based on 3 days pro rata of the weekly allowance and allows for the young person who may be living away from home to return home at weekends without the foster carer needing to submit a payment claim.

6.5 Independent Fostering Agencies

Requests for young people placed within Independent Fostering Agency to Stay Put will be considered against the same criteria as CMBC approved foster care placements.

The social worker or personal assistant will be expected to work with the young person, carrying out the same tasks, as they would when working with a local authority approved carer.

The payment made to the IFA foster carer will be made directly to them and will be at the same rate as for in-house foster carers.

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.

7. Setting Up the Staying Put Arrangement

Once a 'Staying Put' arrangement has been agreed the young person's Social Worker and Personal Advisers should meet to draw up the Living Together Agreement and the rental agreement. Copies of the relevant templates can be found in the Local Resources.

The young person's Pathway Plan will be complemented by a 'Living Together agreement' when a Staying Put arrangement is made.

The Living together agreement should set out all of the practical arrangements regarding the young person remaining as a young adult in the Staying Put arrangement.

8. Living Together Agreement

The Living Together agreement 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 and budgeting - opening a bank account, safe borrowing and managing debt, understanding basic financial products ( including credit cards, loan agreements and mobile phone contracts registered at the address; benefits and welfare reform; budgeting for priority bills, household appliances and everyday shopping on a budget;
  • Education, training and employment activities;
  • Friends and partners visiting and staying at the address;
  • Staying away for nights / weekends and informing carers of movements;
  • 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;
  • 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; show and where to access support and for employment opportunities; understanding of young person’s employment status prior to signing the Staying Put agreement.

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.

9. Rental Agreement

Owing to the change of legal status as set out in Section 2, a rental agreement is required between the young person and the carer. See Local Resources for templates.

10. Interface with Adults Services

The Staying Put arrangement can be used for 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 18th 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.

11. Monitoring and Review

Staying Put arrangements should be reviewed via the Pathway Plan process at a minimum of every six months, with an annual formal review. This should include consideration of what is working well and any difficulties or problems. A review can be arranged earlier by agreement. The young person’s personal advisor will usually chair the review.

12. Ending of Staying Put Arrangements

The Staying Put arrangement can be ended at any time before the young person reaches their 21st birthday, by either the young person or the former foster carer giving the relevant notice. Provisions for ending the agreement are set out in the licence agreement and require a minimum notice period of 28 days. If there is a serious breach of the licence agreement then the Staying Put Arrangement can end immediately with the agreement of relevant Service Manager.

The Staying Put arrangement will usually end when the young person reaches their 21st birthday, or if they are on an agreed programme of education or training on their 21st birthday, when then the course is completed.

When planning to end a Staying Put Arrangement it is important to note that as the young person reaches their 21st birthday they will no longer qualify as having a priority need for social housing. Therefore it is essential that plans are made in advance in order to maximise their opportunities to be considered for this provision. 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.