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1.31 Staying Put Arrangements

RELATED GUIDANCE

The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations; Volume 3: planning transition to adulthood for care leavers

Staying Put Good Practice Guide

Staying Put: What does it mean for you? (Catch 22 National Care Advisory Service)

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in December 2016 when links to the Practice Guidance and a leaflet for young people was added.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. References/Regulations
  3. Staying Put Criteria
  4. Pathway Plan
  5. ‘Staying Put’ Planned Move-on
  6. ‘Staying Put’ - Disability
  7. Placement Supervision and Support
  8. Approved Foster Carer continuing to provide a placement for Children under 18 years old
  9. Approved Foster Carer who does not intend to continue fostering
  10. Independent Fostering Agency
  11. Finance
  12. Guidance


1. Introduction

Northumberland County Council is committed to preventing social exclusion amongst care leavers and has developed the following policy in order to ensure that young people receive continued support.

The procedure sets out the procedure to extend a former fostering arrangement beyond a young person’s eighteenth birthday, the associated financial implications, the regulatory and support requirements associated with extending former fostering arrangements.

From the age of eighteen young people are no longer legally Looked After under the Children Act 1989 and therefore fostering arrangements no longer apply.

Following a young person’s eighteenth birthday the legal basis in which they occupy the property (former foster home) changes and they become ‘excluded licensee’ who are effectively lodging in the ‘Staying Put’ carer/s home. Whilst the term ‘excluded licensee’ is a legal one, it should not denote that the young person will be treated differently than they were as a fostered child.

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

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.


2. References/Regulations

The Care Matters initiative, the Children and Young Persons Act 2008 and the Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers 2010(Regulations and Guidance) require each local authority to have a ‘Staying Put’ Policy that sets out arrangements where-by the authority will promote the extension of former foster care placements beyond a young person’s eighteenth birthday.

The ‘Staying Put’ policy has also been developed to address the requirements of the Fostering Service (England) Regulations 2011 and related Guidance and National Minimum Standards (NMS) for Fostering Services 2011.


3. Staying Put Criteria

The primary aim of ‘Staying Put’ procedure is to promote a gradual transition and continuity of care to adulthood and independent living that recognise that many young people in care can benefit from the opportunity to continue to prepare for independence with their former foster carers beyond their 18th birthday.

Young people will be able to remain living with their foster carer on a Staying Put arrangement until they reach their 21st birthday. This will enable them to continue in school, further education and support vulnerable young people to remain within a family setting where they can better achieve a transition to independent adult life.


4. Pathway Plan

The level of vulnerability should be identified in the Pathway Plan and explanation why this has occurred and what has been undertaken to assist the young person with the development of practical, relationship, emotional and resilience skills and how these will be enhanced by the young person remaining in the ‘Staying Put ‘ arrangement.

This plan should also include information about what support will be provided to increase the young person’s ability to develop independent living skills and their ability to establish and maintain either a benefit claim or and education training or employment activity.

The Pathway Plan should identify how the placement will support the young person’s education, employment and training needs.

In addition and particularly where a young person is being referred to and adult team the following area need to be addressed

  • Learning difficulties;
  • Physical difficulties;
  • Special Educational needs;
  • Communication difficulties;
  • Risk taking behaviour exploitation and self-harm;
  • Mental health issues;
  • Emotional and physical development;
  • Substance misuse.


5. ‘Staying Put’ Planned Move-on

Young people who are actively seeking a local authority tenancy can remain for up to 6 months beyond their 18th birthday or until their tenancy is allocated.


6. ‘Staying Put’ - Disability

Disabled young people should have the same opportunity to remain living with their former foster carers as other young people in care.

Where a young person meets the Adult Care Services Fair Access to Services Criteria, there will need to be early discussions to agree on what basis and to what level any such arrangement will be funded.


7. Placement Supervision and Support

The young person will be supported by the appropriate 16+ or care management team.

The carer will be supported by the Fostering Service. The level of support provided by the Fostering Service to reflect regulatory requirements and the individual support needs of the carer as set out below.

The expectations upon carers will vary dependent upon their status and the regulatory requirements.


8. Approved Foster Carer continuing to provide a placement for Children under 18 years old

If the carer remains approved to provide foster placements for children under 18years, as well as providing a ‘Staying Put’ placement for a young person 18 years or over, the Fostering Regulations and NMS will continue to apply.

The Foster Carer will continue to be supported by the Fostering Service and a Supervising Social Worker as they would for any other foster carer with children in placement.

Where it is agreed that a Foster Carer will support a young person on a Staying Put basis a Foster Carer Review should be held to consider any recommendation for the change in approval status of the Foster Carer. Where appropriate this review should be taken to Foster Panel or the Agency Decision Maker to enable change in the fostering status.

The Young Person in placement will be required to undertake a DBS check and to be cleared. To ensure the check is completed by the young person‘s 18th birthday the process will need to commence in sufficient time.

The Fostering Service would need to have regard to any risks the young person might present to children in placed.

Approved Foster Carer for one named young person

Where a Foster Carer wishes to continue to care for one young person beyond their 18th birthday and will not foster children under 18 years old during the ‘Staying Put’ placement, they will remain approved foster carers and will remain supported by the Fostering Service and the Supervising Social Worker.

As there is no child in placement the level of monitoring and support will be based on the needs of the young adult, compliance to the Fostering Service Regulations and the need for the carer to remain accountable for their care role.

To meet the Fostering Regulations the Young Person in placement will be required to undertake a DBS check and to be cleared. To ensure the check is completed by the young person‘s 18th birthday the process will need to commence in sufficient time.

The following standards should continue to govern the expectations of the ‘Staying Put’ arrangement.

  1. A return to fostering panel when there is a change of circumstances;
  2. Annual reviews of the carer/s;
  3. The review report presented to the fostering panel every three years;
  4. New Disclosure and Barring Service Check every three years on all adult members of the household, regular visitors and children of the carers aged 18 and older;
  5. Health and safety and checks and Safer Care Policy;
  6. Regular supervision from the supervising social worker. (Minimum ever 12 weeks, dependent on needs of the placement);
  7. Unannounced visits;
  8. Attend mandatory training;
  9. Maintain foster carer daily records;
  10. Notify of significant events.

The Foster Carer may return to fostering once the ‘Staying Put’ arrangement comes to an end.

A Carers Review and report to Panel will be required to ensure that the carers approval status continues to be appropriate. This will be particularly important where the carer is approved for a named child. Consideration will need to be given to an update assessment for Panel.


9. Approved Foster Carer who does not intend to continue fostering

Where the Foster Carer does not want to continue providing a placement for other under 18 year old children on a fostering basis, they should resign as an approved foster carer. However, they will continue to be funded and supported as if they were. The monitoring standards above shall not be applied as a matter of regulation, however, standards 4, 5, 6 and 7, should still be applied informally as a matter of good practice.

It should be noted that young people remaining with foster carer/s post eighteen will become adult members of the household and will require a valid DBS check in households where foster children are living. To ensure the check is completed by the young person‘s 18th birthday the process will need to commence in sufficient time.


10. Independent Fostering Agency

Requests to extend young people placed in Independent Fostering Agency placements will be considered against the same criteria as Northumberland foster carer placements.

  1. Negotiations should commence with the IFA as soon as possible;
  2. Consideration should be given to the placement being supported directly by Northumberland Fostering Service on an informal basis;
  3. Benefit maximisation should take place in line with the above NCC foster care policy, clothing and pocket money should reduce at age 16, or age 18 and housing benefit should be claimed at age 18;
  4. In circumstances where an IFA does not have an ‘Allowance policy’ a deduction of equivalent to the welfare benefits claimed by the young person will be made when a young person reaches the age of 18.


11. Finance

Staying Put Allowances

‘Staying Put’ former foster carers should be financially supported to continue to care for and promote the welfare of a young person past their 18th birthday, however, young people should also be expected to contribute dependant on their own welfare benefit entitlement and earnings.

‘Staying Put’ Mainstream Foster Carers

Where a Mainstream Foster Carer continues to foster other young people under 18 years old they will continue to receive their Band 1 or 2 Fostering Fee and continue to work to the terms of their Banding and Fostering Agreement.

They will in addition receive an allowance to meet the needs of the young person equivalent to the 16+ Fostering Allowance minus an amount for personal and clothing costs that the young person will be expected to contribute from their own welfare benefits and earnings.

Where a Mainstream Foster Carer intends to only care for the former fostered young person they will receive a weekly payment equivalent to the Banded fostering fee they previously received (to a maximum of the Band 2 fee) plus an amount equivalent to the fostering allowance for the young person at the 16+ minus an amount for personal and clothing costs that the young person will be expected to contribute from their own welfare benefits and earnings.

Connected Persons (Family and Friend / Kinship) Foster Carers

Former Connected Person Foster Carers will continue to receive the equivalent of the fostering allowance for the young person at the 16 year plus level minus an amount for personal and clothing costs that the young person will be expected to contribute from their own welfare benefits and earnings.

‘Staying Put’ carers will continue to receive the equivalent of 56 weeks allowance, one week for Christmas/Festival on week for birthday and two weeks for holiday.

Extending Placements Procedure

The Leaving Care Assessment of Need undertaken at the age of 15 and three quarter should identify the timescale required for young people to move to independence and should be used as the framework for beginning to explore the following issues:

  1. Is it likely that the young person will fit the criteria for ‘Staying Put’ when they reach their 18th birthday?
  2. Does the young person and the foster carer/s understand the criteria for and associated procedures for extending a fostering placement into a ‘Staying Put’ arrangement;
  3. Does the young person understand the financial and benefit responsibilities associated with the ‘Staying Put’ arrangement;
  4. Does the foster carer/s understand the changes in their funding arrangements associated with a ‘Staying Put’ arrangement?
  5. Does the foster carer/s understand the impact of a ‘Staying Put’ arrangement on the welfare benefit income and on the Income Tax and National Insurance responsibilities and liabilities?
  6. What is the parallel plan for the young person should the ‘Staying Put’ arrangement not be viable.

To ensure sufficient time is available to make the necessary planning arrangements for extending a placement beyond a young person’s 18th birthday, a Pathway Plan Review Meeting should take place as part of the Leaving Care Assessment of Need. This meeting should take place immediately prior to the young person’s 16th birthday. The meeting should include the foster carer/s, supervising social worker and 16+ social worker and should establish the viability  and likelihood of a ‘Staying Put’ arrangement occurring. The meeting should identify all key tasks and roles and responsibilities relating to extending the former fostering arrangement. The meeting should explore the impact on the foster carer/s financial circumstances should the placement continue after the young person’s 18th birthday.

The 16+ Social Worker after consultation with the Foster Carers Supervising Social Worker will make a request to the Fostering Manager for agreement to provide continued supervision and support to the Staying Put arrangement and to the 16+ Team Manager for agreement to funding of the arrangement.

The Pathway Plan Review Meeting should be repeated when the young person reaches the age of 17and a half and should ensure that any final arrangements and requirements are in place by the young person’s 18th birthday. The outcome of this meeting then needs to be presented to the Fostering Panel for any recommendation regarding extending a former fostering arrangement.

The Pathway Plan Review should be used to review the continued suitability of the placement to meet the young person’s needs.

All meetings should make reference to the criteria and financial framework for extending the ‘Staying Put’ arrangement and the National Insurance and Tax and Welfare benefits issues for the foster carer/s and welfare benefits issues for the young person.


12. Guidance

The guidance below is for general information only, based on current circumstances at time of issue and may be subject to change. Please check for individual circumstances and ensure that young people claim their full entitlement. Foster Carers should seek their own independent advice.

Benefits for Young People

Young people remaining in a ‘Staying Put’ arrangement may claim a means tested benefit if they are not in work for their personal needs from their 18th birthday. These benefits will contribute to the personal and clothing allowance previously contained in the foster carer’s maintenance allowance.

As set out all young people are required to claim a personal benefit, or replace the clothing and pocket money allowance by earnings.

All young people are required to claim housing benefits or housing element of Universal Credit from October 2013, if their ‘Staying Put’ carers are not claiming a means tested benefit. In situations where young people are working and do not claim a means tested personal benefit they will need to claim housing benefit.

Young people living in kinship foster placements with sisters, brothers and certain extended family members who are formally approved as foster carers are not eligible to claim housing benefit on reaching the age of 18.

Section 23C Payments and Housing Benefit Issues for ‘Staying Put’ Arrangements

Payments made to the ‘Staying Put’ carers from the local Authority Children’s services form Section 23C of the Children Act 1989 via the young person, or directly to the carer/s on behalf of the young person are disregarded when calculating the carer/s entitlement to means tested benefits. However the section 23C disregard only applies when young people continue to live as a member of their former foster carer’s family (‘Staying Put’) on a non -commercial basis. Where young people claim housing benefit (which requires a commercial arrangement) they cannot continue to be deemed to be living as a member of their former foster carers family(‘Staying Put’) and therefore any payment from whatever source is taken into account and the section 23C disregard does not apply.

Therefore where a ‘Staying Put’ carer is in receipt of a means tested benefit the young person will not be expected to claim Housing Benefit and an amount equivalent to the Housing Benefit level will be paid to the young persons ‘Staying Put’ carer.

In order to ensure ‘Staying Put’ carers and young people are supported to claim housing benefit appropriately, Northumberland has two ‘Staying Put’ Schemes:

  1. A scheme for carers who are not in receipt of any means tested benefits where setting a commercial rent and young people claim housing benefit would not have an impact on the ‘Staying Put’ carers. In this option the young person claims Housing Benefit as a contribution towards the ‘Staying Put’ arrangement. The fact that this is a commercial arrangement and the ‘Staying Put’ carer loses their Section 23C disregard is immaterial as the carer is not claiming any benefits;
  2. A scheme for carers who are in receipt of a means tested benefit where Children services pay the young person’s rent element. In this option the whole payment to the ‘Staying Put’ carer is provided by Children’s services form Section 23C and therefore the ‘Staying Put’ carer’s benefit is not affected.

Council Tax and Council Tax Benefit

  1. Where a young person is living in a ‘Staying Put’ arrangement with two or more adults who are not in receipt of Council Tax benefit and who pay full Council Tax a ‘Staying Put’ young person will not have any impact on the Council tax liability. If the young person is claiming benefits they should submit a claim for Council Tax Benefit for administrative purpose;
  2. In circumstances where a ‘Staying Put’ carer is working and in receipt of the 25% single person reduction, this discount may continue when a ‘Staying Put’ young person aged 18 plus is living in the arrangement. If the young person is a student they are counted as ‘invisible’ in regard to the ‘Staying Put’ carer’s 25% discount;
  3. In circumstance where a ‘Staying Put’ carer is working and is in receipt of the 25% single person reduction and a ‘Staying Put’ young person reaches the age of 18, or moves in, and they are not counted as ‘invisible’ it is possible although unlikely, that a second adult rebate may apply. The second adult rebate is designed to ‘compensate’ people who lose a 25% single person discount when a low income person moves in;
  4. In certain circumstances a young person may be treated as a Non Dependent in terms of ‘Staying Put’ carers Council Tax benefit. If this is the case there are set amounts of non-dependent deductions or (NDD’s) that are deducted from Council Tax Benefit according to age, status and income;
  5. Where a commercial arrangement applies and the ‘Staying Put’ carer is receiving Council Tax Benefit the payment received for the ‘Staying Put’ arrangement is likely to have an impact on their benefits, including Council Tax Benefit.

The Treatment of Benefits

Payments form Children’s services to young people under section 17, section 20, section 23, section 24 and section 31 do not count as income for benefits purposes.

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

Income Tax and National Insurance Issues for ‘Staying Put’ Arrangements

Where young people remain living with their former foster carer/s under a ‘Staying Put’ arrangement, the income tax and National Insurance framework and liabilities that apply are set out in the new ‘Shared Lives Carers’ Guidance.

All foster carers and ‘Staying Put’ carers must register as self-employed.

The ‘Shared Lives’- Qualify care relief Guidance ‘ sets out that ‘Staying Put’ carers receive tax exemption up to a given qualifying amount for each ‘Staying Put’ young person living with them. The ‘Staying Put ‘qualifying rate mirrors the system and amounts that applied when the placement was previously a foster care placement.

HM Revenue and Customs Help sheet (hs) 236 sets out information about the ‘Shared Lives’- Qualifying care relief guidance - Fostering and ‘Staying Put’ Income tax and National Insurance Framework.

Your qualifying amount does not affect your personal tax allowance. If your ‘Staying Put’ care receipts are exempt, the full amount of your personal allowance is available to use against any other income you may have.

The ‘Staying Put’ exemption does not affect any income you may have from other sources, for example, from employment or from investments. Such other income will be taxed in the normal way.

‘Staying Put’ carer/s as well as foster carer/s should note that they may be able to claim Working Tax credits which are administered by HMRC. Fostering/’Staying Put’ care is counted as work for tax credit purposes. The carer’s taxable income is used to assess the amount of tax credits that they are entitled to. So where the carer is paid less than their tax free allowance their income from caring  for Working Tax Credit purposes is also nil.

End