02 EXAMPLES OF PRACTICE
The following examples are extracts from the responses received. Wherever possible, the words provided by local authorities have been used.
Aberdeen City Council
Aberdeen City's Corporate Parenting Policy has been in place since October 2007. Accompanying this is an agreed structure and process for scrutinising the implementation of the policy which ensures that the level of support and guidance available to staff, elected members and agencies commissioned to deliver services for Looked After children is effective.
A Conference to launch the corporate parenting policy and materials is to take place towards the end of 2008. Looked After children will be working with the Council's Arts Team to develop materials for the conference including a DVD which will highlight individual experiences, what Looked After children want from their corporate parents and what contributes towards successful outcomes for care leavers.
In 2007, Aberdeen City Council embarked on an ambitious Transformation Programme to provide strategic direction and prioritise the allocation of resources to improve outcomes for children and ensure Best Value across service delivery. The delivery of services to children Looked After by the local authority has been identified as a key priority in the transformation process. In October 2007, the full Council approved the high level decisions set out within the Transformation Programme and strategists are currently working with colleagues across Health and Care to develop full and detailed proposals for each of the options detailed within the Report.
Through the close links which are maintained with Aberdeen College's Child Protection Schools Liaison Co-ordinator, Aberdeen City has developed a familiarisation/orientation course being run specifically for Looked After young people returning from residential accommodation outwith the City and intending to start college. Young people are invited to attend three sessions prior to the start of the college year and given advice about what to expect and where to access help.
In relation to the use of Section 30, Health and Care Managers are able to approve funding for Looked After young people to pay for resources that they may require for them to attend further education courses. Funding has also been granted for young people's student accommodation.
Aberdeen City Council provides the following support to young people leaving care:
- An allowance and incentive for young people employed or engaged in education and training.
- Clothing for interviews.
- College, work and training clothing.
- Books for study/education and training.
- Equipment for work.
- Bus fares for visiting family.
- Bus pass for education/employment.
- Discretionary financial assistance to support young people who return home to live with their families where this is considered a positive move.
- Emergency payments in certain circumstances.
Examples of good practice identified by Aberdeen City include:
- Throughcare link workers assigned to each childcare team and residential unit.
- A multi-agency resource forum (Betterways) which involves all local accommodation providers in the throughcare and aftercare process, has been in place for two years. This multi-agency partnership ensures that the most appropriate accommodation is provided for the young person.
- Where young people have particular talents ( e.g. musical ability/sports talent) the Council supports this through offering financial support, e.g. towards purchase of instruments, accessing further tuition, etc.
- Recently monies have been provided towards the purchase of chef knives and whites for a young person training to become a chef and also for buying equipment for a young person about to start a hairdressing course.
"I have learning difficulties and the communication between my foster parents, school and social worker, helped me to stay on at mainstream school and leave school with seven standard grades. I am now at college doing computing. I have always had encouragement and extra support when I needed it. That makes the biggest difference: I know I am cared for."
All Looked After and accommodated young people have their holistic needs met through individual Looked After children's plans and Pathway plans. Meeting accommodation needs is part of the overall plan to help young people to achieve the best outcomes. Young people and their families are fully included in Looked After child reviews and Pathway planning.
They support young people to remain with their foster carers as Supported Lodgings if this assists them in maintaining their education, training or employment. They also support young people through the provision of "top-up" allowances.
Financial support is generally agreed on a needs led, individual basis which is very much dependant on circumstances. Aberdeenshire Council is committed to the provision of ongoing support to young people in a variety of ways to ensure that they are encouraged to move on to positive destinations post school.
Aberdeenshire Council have a Looked After Children Strategy Group, who have a local multi-agency membership. Their output contributes to the development of the Integrated Children's Services Plan and the monitoring of targets agreed, they also lead the outcome focused strategic development of services for Looked After children across Aberdeenshire. A sub-group specifically deals with the issues of throughcare and aftercare for young people locally.
The Looked After Children Strategy Group are working to complete a service mapping exercise of the action points in the We Can and Must Do Better report and draft an action plan to meet identified service gaps. This will be presented to the Joint Management Group (Health, Education and Social Work senior management and partners) who will consider this when setting objectives for children's services across Aberdeenshire.
"I have been very lucky that during my time in the care system I met people who were very encouraging and supportive in different ways. This allowed me to carry on and complete my studies. Young people have low views of who they are and what they can achieve. Work to change this opinion, would help to boost young people's belief in their ability to do better."
Angus Council's Throughcare/Aftercare Team, based within the Social Work and Health Department, work with Looked After children to help assess their needs via Pathway assessment and planning protocols. This team takes referrals regarding Looked After young people from 15_ years and carries out a Pathway assessment of their needs. This assessment has been developed in conjunction with Housing colleagues who lead on the accommodation section of the assessment, with social work staff considering the housing support services which may be required by young people living independently. Following assessment a Pathway plan is developed and implemented. All plans developed for young people involve extensive consultation with the young person and their family and/or carers.
Angus Council financially supports a number of young people in full-time education, beyond their 19th birthday, under Section 30 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.
Prior to the payment of any financial support a young persons circumstances are fully explored and their income maximised by all available means excluding loans. The level of allowance paid depends on the circumstances of young people. Young people receive either a full allowance, or if they have additional income, a 'top-up' to take their income to the level of a personal allowance. Young people also receive financial support to pay for rented accommodation.
Young people who are supported through Section 30 beyond their 19th birthday have regular meetings with their Resource Worker to offer support and review their circumstances.
"I chose where I wanted to stay…I saw a flat…that I wanted to live in, and they paid for my rent. Taking away the added pressure of rent, meant I could get on with my studies. It meant I could do something with my life."
Argyll and Bute Council
Argyll and Bute have a Joint Working Protocol between Education and Social Work Services. This protocol provides the framework for joint working between the two services with a particular focus on addressing the needs of Looked After children. To assist with this there is a social worker attached to each of the main secondary schools. Argyll and Bute are also in the process of identifying named "champions" from within the Education Service who will oversee the academic development of individual Looked After children throughout their time in S3 and S4.
All staff involved in supporting the needs of children and young people have a shared responsibility to work to the best of their ability to meet those needs. The Protocol is intended for managers and practitioners across Community Services who are routinely involved in the organisation of support of children and young people for whom multi-agency support is considered necessary.
At this time Argyll and Bute is in the early stages of reviewing the design and delivery of throughcare and aftercare services.
This review involves consultation with care leavers and parents/carers and will lead to the development of an Action Plan outlining forums, systems and practice that will promote the opportunity for care leavers to direct the design and delivery of the throughcare and aftercare services.
Argyll and Bute have also commissioned a similar consultation exercise within their three residential units with Looked After and accommodated children again providing a report and action plan.
The Chief Social Work Officer is establishing an Argyll & Bute central forum of key multi-agency managers and professionals, voluntary organisations and service user representation. This forum will establish joint working protocols which will facilitate local decision-making and service delivery. This will be followed by establishing four local Throughcare and Aftercare Forums in the respective service centre areas: Cowal and Bute; Mid-Argyll and Kintyre; Oban; and Helensburgh with key multi-agency professionals and service user representation, which will co-ordinate and shape the design and delivery of throughcare and aftercare services in accordance with local need.
Argyll and Bute currently support two young people at university. They also have several young people in College, further education/training programmes and in Modern Apprenticeships. All of these young people have continuing support addressed through scheduled Pathway reviews. The financial packages available to them provide support for: accommodation; living allowance (the Council discourages student loans); transport and required books and materials.
In recognition that a 9 to 5 Monday to Friday service did not adequately meet the needs of some of their most vulnerable young people who had been leading chaotic lifestyles, Clackmannanshire Council appointed social care workers who have contracts which allow for evening, weekend and occasional overnight working.
All of their Looked After children now continue to work with their allocated social worker beyond the age of 16 and this social worker has the lead role in compiling the Pathway assessment and plan. The social care workers will assist with this and then take on specific practical tasks as identified at the Pathway review. They believe this will provide more continuity of care and support for young people. The emphasis for the social care workers will be to provide the very practical support that a parent would offer e.g. shopping together for clothes for interviews, ensuring plans are in place to attend appointments and providing transport and moral support to attend these if necessary, etc.
Those workers will also assist young people to access Council and community resources to develop networks of people who could be useful in enhancing training and employment opportunities. They will also encourage participation in sport, employment opportunities as well as social and leisure activities. As necessary, the social care workers will transport and accompany young people should they need this level of support in order to participate initially.
Links are being developed with their Substance Misuse and Youth Justice workers to undertake joint work with some of the young people who drift from crisis to crisis. Similarly, links have been made with the Throughcare and Aftercare designated nurse.
The social care workers are also compiling a data base of all Looked After young people who come under the throughcare and aftercare legislation. The intention is to use this to follow up on the young people who are no longer engaged with an allocated social worker. This will establish if the young person has imminent needs and would wish to re-engage with the Service or link in with existing community resources.
Early discussions have taken place with Who Cares? Scotland to consider setting up a local forum for these young people. The intention is to engage with young people in developing services together and provide opportunities for informal support networks to develop.
Links with Housing are well established in Clackmannanshire and consideration is being given to moving a post currently designated as a housing support worker with the N.C.H. Path Project to join with the social care workers in one team. This would develop skills and knowledge across the team and allow for a more flexible service.
Financial support is under review and discussion has taken place with neighbouring local authorities (Stirling and Falkirk) to compare different models of provision. The use of financial support in Clackmannanshire has been flexible and tailored to individual need when necessary and they would anticipate extending this further as they develop the new style of service. The creation of the data base referred to earlier will allow them to identify young people who are in education, employment or training and may require additional financial assistance.
The social care worker posts are line managed by the Team Manager for Woodside residential Child Care Unit. The social care workers attend the Woodside Staff Meetings, which allows for cross fertilisation of ideas and keeps the concept of throughcare and aftercare alive in the residential setting. They also use residential care link workers as the throughcare and aftercare worker when a young person leaves Woodside, again maintaining continuity for the young person.
"My experience in care has been very positive…I'm living under the care of my supported carer at the moment, who used to be my teacher…I am now at university…I am settled and happy."
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
The Social Work Department contracts with NCH Scotland to provide Throughcare and Aftercare Services to Looked After children. All young people who have been Looked After and accommodated have a Pathways plan. This process is led by NCH staff with relevant input from other agencies. The Social Work Department provides financial support to individual young people leaving care and Social Work staff continue to provide practical support and advice in partnership with NCH Scotland, particularly in circumstances in which the Local Authority has had extensive previous involvement in more complex cases or where the young person is the subject of a Parental Responsibilities Order.
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar places emphasis on ensuring that transitions for young people who have been Looked After are well planned and supported. Some examples of the types of support provided to young people are:
- A care leaver moved to a supported lodgings placement on the mainland to be closer to extended family. The move was supported and facilitated by a Throughcare and Aftercare worker. The young person enrolled in college and contact was maintained for a considerable period of time to ensure a smooth transition from being Looked After to independent living.
- A care leaver moved from foster care to stay with friends despite efforts by staff to persuade young person to remain in foster care. The placement with friends became unsustainable and the young person was in B & B accommodation, supported by Social Work and NCH Scotland, for a short period of time until allocated a housing association tenancy. Social Work and NCH support remains in place and will continue on a
- A young person moved from care to stay with family. This was a planned move with good preparation and forward planning. Throughcare and Aftercare Services in the area the young person moved to were involved before the move, and the young person was supported by them, by the CnES social worker, and by NCH. In the course of a smooth transition, the young person received support mainly from Social Work in the new area but with NCH continuing to oversee the case with monthly meetings being held between NCH and the CnES Social Work Team Leader. The young person enrolled in college, was allocated their own tenancy and settled well in the new environment.
- A young person Looked After at home moved directly into supported accommodation through the Foyer Project and receives support from the Foyer Project, NCH and Social Work. The young person is working and following a college course.
- A young person remained in a foster placement which was re-designated a supported lodgings placement. The young person is doing well in college and continues to be supported by NCH.
- A young person left care to start a college course. The young person moved directly into supported accommodation, continues to receive support from the CnES social worker and also from Barnardo's in the area where the accommodation and college is located.
- A young person left their foster placement to move in with their partner. Continued support was offered by foster carers, the Social Work Department and NCH.
In addition, there are a number of young people whose foster families wish to continue to care indefinitely for that young person. Where this is mutually the wish of the foster family and the young person, the placement for that young person is converted into a supported accommodation arrangement.
More Choices, More Chances funding has been used to develop a supported accommodation project specifically for particularly vulnerable young people who have been Looked After and to provide mentoring to young people from 12 years old and upwards who require focused support to assist in building personal self esteem and confidence in making life choices.
More Choices, More Chances funding is also utilised to provide intensive support to young people in school (not necessarily Looked After) to enhance their potential with regard to making successful transitions from school to training, further education and employment.
A multi-agency Youth Homelessness Strategy Group has also secured funding from this source to undertake a research project to inform the strategic direction of accommodation provision for vulnerable young people.
Dumfries and Galloway Council
Dumfries and Galloway Council provide the following:
For young people in full time further or higher education
- Provide financial support to all eligible young people to cover all accommodation costs during term time (and vacations when required).
- Provide financial support towards the cost of books and equipment.
- Provide financial assistance for travel to and from Dumfries and Galloway to enable young people studying away to visit friends and family and to help with moving personal belongings at the beginning and end of term.
- Provide financial support towards the cost of transport and accommodation for interviews and open days.
- When appropriate, and with the consent of young people, liaise closely with the college to ensure that any special needs are identified and addressed.
For young people in training, work placements or ongoing education
- Provide financial support to cover accommodation costs for those young people not eligible to claim housing benefit or receiving accommodation allowances from other sources.
- Provide financial support for living expenses for young people not receiving bursaries or training allowances.
- Award incentive payments for good attendance (can be paid weekly or termly depending on circumstances).
- Provide financial support towards books, equipment (including specialist clothing) and travel costs.
- Provide financial support for living expenses during vacations for those young people unable to find paid employment.
- Provide financial support towards childcare costs (when no other source available) for young parents returning to education.
For young people on apprenticeship/specialist work placements
As above plus:
- In certain circumstances, subsidise a placement with an employer who is willing to take on a young person as an apprentice or on a work-placement because of personal connections to the young person, his family or carers or a young person's particular interest in the work. In this case the "deal" would be negotiated via college, careers and other relevant agencies.
For young people in employment:
- Financial help with transport costs, work clothing and equipment when starting employment, if not available from other sources, and financial assistance with accommodation and living expenses until first pay day (and thereafter if required, based on an assessment of income and expenses).
- Providing financial support towards childcare costs (when no other source available) for young parents returning to work, depending on income.
Other financial support:
- Incentive payments for young people undertaking ongoing voluntary work.
- Payments of short, specialist courses required for young people to advance to employment or further/higher education.
- Payment for provisional driving licence and course of driving lessons for eligible and fit young people who are maintaining employment, education and training, where the ability to drive would enhance their chances of future employment (particularly those living in rural areas).
Other positive actions:
- The Leaving Care Team manages a small Supported Lodgings project. It is hoped to expand this in future to particularly address the needs of those young people wishing to remain in more rural areas.
- Foster carers are able to be registered as Supported Lodgings providers and receive appropriate payments for young people who continue to remain with them post 18.
- Continued financial support to kinship carers for young people leaving care, depending on assessment of need/circumstances.
- Discretionary financial assistance to support young people where rehabilitation with their families is possible and assessed as a positive move.
- The review of Council Residential Services has resulted in a move towards enhanced residential provision within Dumfries and Galloway for young people aged 16 plus.
- Leaving Care Team taking a lead role in initial planning meetings regarding a possible Foyer project.
- Improved working relationships and better partnership working with Housing colleagues - working towards early planning and shared assessments.
- Local Pathway assessment and planning tools being developed in consultation with young people.
- CRF-funded link workers in post to facilitate engagement with and participation in the development of Leaving Care service.
- All young people able to access Leaving Care Team, advice, support and assistance until they are at least 21 years. In some cases support continues post 21 years until appropriate adult services or other interventions are identified and being accessed.
Dundee City Council
In April of this year, a joint Social Work and Education report and action plan was submitted to the Education Committee, specifically aimed at highlighting the issues outlined in We Can and Must Do Better, and intimating the Council's proposed action to address these issues.
Some of the key actions from this report are:
- Dundee City will revise and update their Corporate Parenting Policy. This will include examining models of "Corporate Championing", such as the example of Barnet Council highlighted in We Can and Must Do Better. They also intend to brief their new elected members on the Council's responsibilities as a Corporate Parent.
- They intend making Corporate Parenting a standing item on their Integrated Children's Services Strategic Planning Group agenda, and reflect issues and actions relating to Corporate Parenting through their Service Planning processes.
- They will revise and update the joint Social Work and Education policy on the education of pupils Looked After by the local authority. This will include ways of reporting, analysing and acting on "real time" issues affecting these children and young people, and their education.
- The Coordinator of the Looked After children Education Attainment work is directly involved with the Council's other developments, towards identifying young people either in or in danger of becoming unemployed.
In addition to the above, the Looked After Children's Group, which links into the integrated children's services implementation management structure, are in the process of preparing a strategy and accompanying action plan for all Looked After children and young people in Dundee. This covers areas such as:
- Developing a formal tri-partite agreement between Social Work, Education and Health in relation to Looked After children and young people.
- A review and evaluation of the experiences of care leavers, implementing any improvements to services as a result of its findings.
- Developing a formal protocol with Dundee College to ensure best possible supports for Looked After young people and care leavers.
- Developing a consultation framework to actively seek the views of Looked After children, young people and their families, and carers, incorporating these views into future policy and service planning.
For those young people who are not in education, employment or training, the financial support provided is at a level of at least the current rate of DWP benefits. In addition to this Dundee City also meets the cost of accommodation, which can range from standard local authority tenancies to more highly supported accommodation where this is assessed as being necessary.
The legislation also allows for discretionary payments that are designed to encourage young people to take up opportunities for education, employment and training. Examples of this would include:
- Young people who continue in secondary education will have any existing payments ( e.g. Education Maintenance Awards or bursaries) topped up (currently to a total of £84 per week).
- Young people who get a place on any of the formal training schemes that are available will get a top up of £20 per week in addition to what is paid by the scheme.
- Young people who are in full-time further or higher education are guaranteed a regular income of £85 per week, and in addition, any other costs relating to the course, e.g. field trips, matriculation fees, etc., will also have these met.
Dundee also meets the cost of term-time accommodation for students if they are away from home, and look to provide appropriate accommodation during university or college holidays.
For any students in full-time further or higher education, this support will continue till the course is completed. One young person receiving this support graduated 2 years ago with a Law Degree from the University of Edinburgh at the age of 25. The Council are currently supporting three others in similar situations.
East Ayrshire Council
East Ayrshire has highlighted the work being done by their Leisure Services Department with Looked After children. This is to provide them with support to access leisure and sporting activities within the community that will encourage integration and access to mainstream facilities. This is entirely consistent in their view with the role of corporate parent providing experiences that are similar to those of a conventional parent. This work is highly successful and has, for example, already been recognised by a recent visit by Her Majesty's Inspection of Education.
On the issue of aftercare, there is close co-operation between residential fieldwork, throughcare staff and colleagues in Housing and Health Services. This has been aided by the provision of an attached, semi-independent flat within one of the units which is being replicated in a modern replacement unit due to open in 2008.
It is planned that these types of multi-disciplinary approach will facilitate the transition into adult life. Against the general background of the More Choices, More Chances strategy development, it is presently a focus of concern and attention that transitions are much better supported. Clearly the Looked After group are an important component of More Choices, More Chances and East Ayrshire is seeking to further develop provision by, for example, a young person's passport. Their approach to aftercare is also being integrated in the present More Choices, More Chances arrangements.
East Ayrshire Council is committed to enable all previously Looked After and accommodated young people to achieve their full potential through ongoing support. Financial support will be provided to ensure that participation in training or education is able to be undertaken. The Council strives to ensure that all relevant barriers to progress are minimized and that thorough and resourced support plans are in place to enable service users to achieve positive outcomes in their progress towards independence and adulthood. Adequate support whether financial, emotional or social is provided through continuing arrangements that enable young people to progress with confidence and security to complete their chosen studies or training.
"I was brought up really well, my carers made sure that I was fed properly and healthily, and that I lived nice and comfortably… I lived in a clean house and felt at home…I was really lucky…it was like heaven for a little girl…I was really happy… I am now 22 and have been to college and have my own place."
East Dunbartonshire council
East Dunbartonshire Council provides a range of supports both for Looked After children and young people and for those who have moved on.
The Principal Teacher for Looked After and accommodated children supports Looked After and accommodated children with applications for college and/or university.
Each care leaver is allocated a named Careers Advisor.
Young people attending ISMS who are Looked After and accommodated receive advice in relation to their education, which to date has included young people attending college and a young person gaining Higher Still qualifications.
Links are in place with local colleges, enabling Looked After and accommodated young people to access college tasters and courses for schools, allowing the young people to access a full-time or part-time placement in further education, where appropriate.
Young people are supported and financed (by Social Work) to take up FE and HE courses. Accommodation is provided to enable young people to do this.
Travel cards are provided to enable young people to attend college or work.
Equipment is provided when required for work or training, e.g. hairdressing, cookery, etc.
Where a Looked After and accommodated young person is not yet a school leaver, but has attained permission to begin a full-time college placement, liaison is put in place with the college in order to track and monitor the young person's progress. The Principal Teacher for Looked After and accommodated children supports this with study support/mentoring to the young person during this transitional time.
Through More Choices, More Chances funding, Looked After and accommodated young people aged 17 and above have the opportunity to access driving lessons, as well as their driving theory and practical tests. They receive a "Pass Promise Pack" which contains support materials, theory practice tests and study information to prepare them for their tests. Young people have to seek approval to begin the driving programme through the Review process and once they have been approved they are able to begin lessons. This process continues to monitor the progress of the young person throughout the driving programme.
Supported Carers have been recruited to offer more independent accommodation to young people who are post-16, although young people can choose to remain in residential units until they are 18 years of age. One young person was accommodated in a residential unit until she reached 21 years of age (variance on registration was granted to permit this.) Similarly, another young person remained with her foster family until she was 21.
Looked After and accommodated young people are never placed in bed and breakfast accommodation.
There are good links with Housing who provide support and information via Project 101.
Housing support workers offer practical support during the first year of a tenancy.
Independent living skills courses are offered to all care leavers.
East Lothian Council
Within East Lothian it is common for young people to remain in both residential placements and foster care placements, well beyond the age of 16 and sometimes beyond 19.
For young people leaving care placements and residential units, East Lothian is in the process of completing a protocol between Children's Services and Housing Service. The aim is to ensure that every young person requiring accommodation in East Lothian will be able to access starter properties which will become permanent accommodation.
The East Lothian Throughcare and Aftercare Service provide a service for young people who were Looked After and accommodated.
The team provides a generic service to care leavers aged 16 years to 21 years. It supports these young people in all aspects of their lives including tenancy management, independent living skills, budgeting, health issues, emotional support and employment and training issues.
The Throughcare and Aftercare Team support care leavers in full-time education, training or a modern apprenticeship through the provision of travel expenses, book costs, and clothing funds. This will be continued and be extended where appropriate within East Lothian.
As part of the East Lothian More Choices, More Chances strategy East Lothian has also identified specific support for care leavers to assist them to find and sustain suitable employment.
They have provided funding for 0.5 f/te Employability Worker for the Throughcare and Aftercare Team. The remit of this worker includes:
- Reducing the proportion of care leavers, who are unemployed.
- Offering 1 to 1 support to care leavers identified through the Pathway assessment as needing help in finding and sustaining employment, education or training.
- Increasing the employability skills (including basic and softer skills) of young people receiving Aftercare services by providing client-centred services.
- Enabling care leavers to engage more effectively with the existing range of services offering employability opportunities within East Lothian, e.g. Careers Scotland, Bridges Project, Mobex East Lothian, Dialogue Youth.
East Lothian Throughcare and Aftercare Team supported a care leaver who was living independently in a starter tenancy while studying and attending a College in Edinburgh. He completed this course successfully.
The young man was eligible for a bursary as well as Housing Benefit for his accommodation costs. The team provided additional funding for travel costs, books, equipment and clothing grant as well as further financial support by providing a fuel supplementation of £10 per week, TV licence and household contents insurance for his flat. This financial support was provided throughout his college course.
The Team's Employability Worker liaised closely with the young man to explore employment opportunities available locally. Too date he has been employed in temporary posts. The young man now has a permanent tenancy within East Lothian and continues to be in employment. He remains supported by the team.
The team supported a young man at college in Edinburgh. Unfortunately he did not complete the course.
The young person was living independently in a permanent East Lothian Council tenancy and received a high level of support from the team.
The Employability Worker was highly involved in supporting this young person, liaising with college and carers. The young person received a higher rate bursary and therefore had to pay his accommodation costs from this bursary.
They provided financial support through fuel supplementation, travel costs, books, clothing, TV licence, and emergency payments for basic living costs. Much work was also undertaken on budgeting with the young person. He was supported for a further year after his college course and supported to find further training opportunities and employment.
The Team has supported these 2 young people for a minimum of 3 years beyond their 16th birthdays. They continue to support the first young man into a fourth year. Ongoing consistent support has provided secure and permanent accommodation, tenancy agreements and financial supports to young people over the years.
East Lothian encourage and support young people to maximise their potential by helping the engage with a range of services in East Lothian to support them in education, employment or training.
East Renfrewshire Council
East Renfrewshire highlighted the following practice in respect of supporting care leavers:
- Financial support with books, equipment, laptops if required.
- Financial support with transport to enable attendance at educational establishment, training or employment.
- Financial support with appropriate leisure pursuits and to encourage ongoing family contact.
- Ongoing practical and emotional support through the Throughcare and Aftercare Team as agreed with the young person.
- Ongoing support, both practical and financial, to ensure young people are offered appropriate accommodation which they can sustain.
In addition to the above East Renfrewshire is always looking to encourage new service developments, a number of which build on ideas given to them by young people. Examples of these are as follows:
- East Renfrewshire have involved a small group of care leavers in creating a regular weekly programme of life-skills learning groups.
- Also at the request of the young people, they are now looking at the feasibility of finding and securing funding for premises - "a throughcare flat" - where the young people can meet regularly for a range of group activities, feel a sense of belonging and enjoy a drop-in facility.
- In a new initiative, a group of 6 young people and 2 members of staff will take part in a leadership programme in Skye in July 2008. This initiative has been made possible through a matched funding arrangement between a Scottish Charity and East Renfrewshire Council.
"Education doesn't always have to be about school. You can learn in lots of different ways, such as taking part in projects like Columba 1400 or the Princes Trust courses, which help with basic life skills like self motivation and confidence."
The City of Edinburgh Council
Edinburgh's Children and Young People's Strategic Partnership ( CYPSP) is the formal framework for stakeholder agencies to plan and monitor the delivery of children's services within the city. Membership comprises the City of Edinburgh Council, Lothian and Borders Police, NHS Lothian, SCRA and the Voluntary Sector. The City of Edinburgh Council is represented by Children and Families, Services to Communities and Corporate Services Departments.
Within the framework of the CYPSP, a dedicated Looked After Children Strategy Group with membership from drawn from senior officers from key stakeholder agencies is being developed to specifically oversee the planning, delivery and monitoring of services to Looked After and accommodated children, including care leavers interests.
A new Corporate Parent Member and Officer Group comprising of council officers and elected members has been initiated to set and scrutinise key outcomes for Looked After and accommodated children.
Operational services include a dedicated Mental Health Service for children and young people in residential care and foster care called Edinburgh Connect which was recently evaluated and is seen to be an effective model.
Edinburgh has a dedicated Looked After nursing service which ensures that all children receive all necessary health checks, services of primary care, dentists, pharmacy and specialist services when necessary. This service continues when a young person moves through to receive support from their Throughcare and Aftercare Service.
Edinburgh has funded an award winning Reading Initiative which ensures that young people make better use of libraries. Library staff received support to understand and recognise the needs of Looked After children to make full use of library services.
Edinburgh's Throughcare and Aftercare Service has developed good working links with the voluntary sector, namely Barnardo's, higher education and employment agencies.
Through Section 30 Edinburgh fund support for relevant young people in a range of ways:
- Accommodation costs - halls of residence for first year and/or a flat thereafter.
- Payments to former foster carers providing the vacation home base, books (if not eligible for a bursary).
- Equipment for training courses ( e.g. chef's knives and the like), specialist clothing ( e.g. dancewear, steel capped boots, etc.), interview clothing, glasses or contact lenses, etc.
Edinburgh is committed to considering funding anything that can be directly attributable to assisting a young person in pursuit of further education, training or employment. This year they fully supported 13 young people at University and a number of others to a lesser extent in FE colleges.
So long as a young person has commenced their course prior to being 21 years, Edinburgh will continue to support them through to the end of it. They also, in the spirit of good corporate parenting, provide young people who are in full time courses with a top up - it is means tested to a degree in that they take into account how much the young person gets as a bursary. This is generally provided in the form of a "bonus" payment at the end of term. They try to ensure that no young person takes out a student loan, though have to accept that some choose to as it makes them the same as their peers.
Edinburgh also work in partnership with regards to accommodation. For example, a dedicated Care Leavers Flats scheme provides 25 flats across the city in partnership with three voluntary agencies - People for Places in Scotland (Horizons project), Rock Trust and Barnardo's 16+ - who provide housing support as part of the tenancy agreement. Young people can remain in the flats for up to two years before moving on to permanent tenancies. Referrals, comprising a young person's application form and a Pathways report from their worker, are considered at a join agency allocation panel every 6 weeks.
The Capital City Partnership has a Service Level Agreement with Access To Industry to provide education, employment and training support, via their Passport scheme, to a range of socially excluded client groups - Passport has two workers dedicated to Throughcare and Aftercare clients, who are based in the Team.
Falkirk Council has recently reviewed their situation in relation to the support provided following the first tranche of young people supported under the amended legislation moving on.
The principles of the Council's support is to:
- Encourage young people to remain Looked After and accommodated until at least 18 years, and where this is not possible to provide supported accommodation, to use incentives to encourage young people to attend education and training and to maximise their income without prejudicing their situation when they reach 18.
This has led the Council to:
- Amend its financial support provision. This became operational in October 2007 and is a scheme they feel provides the maximum support to young people and sits alongside other initiatives.
- Formalise its Supported Carer provision. This has mainly arisen as a result of encouraging young people to remain in foster care beyond the age of 18 where they and the carer wish this. Until now they have remained on the fostering conditions, but Falkirk is almost ready to launch their Supported Carer Scheme which will encourage this and has specific requirements of the carer and young person.
- Expand its supported accommodation provision in partnership with Housing colleagues. Provision in this area is sparse and Supporting People finances traditionally focused on adult accommodation.
- Falkirk successfully bid for capital funding for renovation of a 3 bedded house in the centre of Falkirk opposite their Leaving Care Team base. Work has just finished and it will provide accommodation for 3 young women, pregnant or with young children - a group over-represented in their care leavers. The house will have 24 hour support and will be funded by a combination of funding from different internal budgets.
- A review of hostel accommodation is underway to consider a more effective way of supporting young homeless people including care leavers. A core and cluster model is being considered.
- Existing providers of hostel accommodation and tenancy support (Link, YMCA and Lorretto) have been given "move on" flats for their young people as a stepping stone to independence.
- Tenancies will now no longer be given to care leavers less than 18 years, due to very high failure rates. Rather, all care leavers will go to supported accommodation - hostel/supported carer, etc. before moving on. While this is difficult given the scarcity of accommodation, it is more appropriate than the consequences of tenancy failures.
- The Council's contract with Careers Scotland, the first in Scotland, remains an example of good practice. It covers Falkirk and the neighbouring councils of Stirling and Clackmannanshire in addition to Careers Scotland. The first 3 year contract has been renewed for a further 3 years.
- Education Services have successfully piloted Positive Transitions Groups for school leavers who are not likely to make the transition from school to work/further education easily. A cross discipline working group is now looking at how this can be rolled out to Looked After and accommodated young people and care leavers who require even more support. This work is still in the early stages, but may provide an example of good practice for the future. For example a scheme providing "taster" sessions is being considered.
- Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire have a Throughcare and Aftercare nurse who is providing a variety of services to their young people. Of note are the sexual health drop-in at the leaving care base and one of the health centres, and a healthy eating drop-in.
- All Falkirk's work to support Looked After and accommodated children and young people and care leavers is monitored through two groups - the Looked After and Accommodated Care Monitoring Group and the Leaving Care Steering group. The latter focuses on the Section 30 support, and has membership from Careers, Social Work, Education, frontline staff, management, Housing and Health.
Fife Council provides a range of supports via its Throughcare Project and partnerships which support young people leaving care. The following are examples of these:
- The More Choices, More Chances group in Fife has allocated funding to go towards increasing the numbers of care leavers who experience positive employability outcomes. It will be used to create a resource pack and training for residential workers in Fife. The funding allows for 3 days training to be given to residential staff to give them the confidence to use the pack. These workers, who are best placed to develop the positive relationships required, will guide young people to realistic and well-informed choices in terms of employability. It is hoped that the group of staff that will be trained will cascade the knowledge they gain to a wider group of residential workers.
- The above development can be expanded to train those in the private and voluntary residential sectors as well as foster carers and potentially support workers within housing projects. The expansion of the initiative will depend on its success and the identification of additional funding to supply the training to accompany the pack.
- In terms of accommodation the Careleavers Accommodation Project ( CAP) is a Council initiative in partnership with Frontline Fife, a voluntary organisation that addresses homelessness in Fife. Fife Housing Services has released 14 flats to the project. The Throughcare Team and Frontline meet regularly to agree referrals to the project, and ensure that the most appropriate young people are placed in CAP flats. Frontline provide direct housing support to the young people placed and the Throughcare team ensures that there is no duplication of effort and that the young person is being assisted in the most efficient and effective way. The Housing Service is committed to releasing at least 2 more properties but are also considering the release of a further 9 properties.
- The Supported Lodgings Scheme enables young people to reside with landladies/landlords who offer support to young people. This resource has expanded over several years. There are now 22 landladies/landlords offering 28 placements to young people who often come directly from residential care settings. Throughcare workers, other professionals and young people see this scheme as being the most supportive and successful way of re-integrating young people into the community. It is hoped that the scheme will continue to expand, however, additional resources will have to be identified to manage the scheme and allow further expansion.
- Homecare staff attached to the team provide practical and emotional support to young people, particularly relating to their independent living skills. They support young people, for example, to furnish then maintain their accommodation, look at budgeting skills, assist them to deal with correspondence and all other issues which relate to successfully managing a home and living independently.
- There are currently 2 Employability Support workers within the Throughcare Project, both seconded from Apex Scotland. These workers support young people through individual support and group work to develop employability skills and to progress to positive destinations in respect of education, training and employment.
- A Housing Officer post is located within the Throughcare Project. This post recognises the specialist help that young people require from housing professionals to negotiate the housing system when they move on from a care setting or from a supported accommodation setting. The housing officer gives expert advice both directly to young people and to the other workers within the team.
- Fife Council provides financial assistance to young people who wish to go onto further and higher education on a case by case basis. At this time there is no discreet budget for Section 30 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. The Section 29 budget is used to financially support young people who may wish to attend university.
- At this time one young person has received financial support from Fife Council to attend University. This support has included paying for all his accommodation costs, providing funding towards books and equipment, clothing, transportation and providing interim maintenance payments before his SAAS income became available.
Glasgow City Council
Glasgow provides a clear financial framework for young people who were Looked After and accommodated who require support under Section 30. All these care leavers are provided with the following financial support:
- Accommodation expenses - paid in full
- Maintenance allowance - £79.30 per week
- Book allowance - all necessary books are paid in full
- Other course equipment, i.e. cooking knives, hairdressing scissors - paid in full
- Clothing allowances - all necessary clothing for the course and interviews are purchased and clothing grants given, dependant on the young person's need, normally 2 or 3 times per year.
- Travel allowance - all travel expenses are paid in full.
In specific cases Glasgow pays fees to access courses if this is part of the young person's Pathway plan.
Glasgow has nearly 40 young people being supported at university and circa 60 being supported in full-time college placements.
Glasgow has the following resources which provide safe and secure and appropriate accommodation to previously Looked After children until they are at least 21 years and, at times, 24 years.
1. Supported Carer Services
Glasgow runs a large Supported Carer Service.
The Supported Carer Service is primarily for Looked After and accommodated young people but can be used to place very vulnerable Looked After young people.
All of the Council's Supported Carers placements focus on education, employment and training. This provides better outcomes for young people and also helps to stabilise placements as it gives structure to young people's lives.
They have an agreement with the Care Leaver's Employment Service ( CLES - a partnership between Social Work, Careers Scotland, and John Wheatley College) that any young person in placement who is not involved in appropriate education or work will receive extra support from CLES to resolve this.
The More Choices, More Chances outcomes for young people in Supported Carer's placements in 2006 were:
- 14% attending university
- 18% in Further/Higher Education
- 28% in Employment
- 5% in Training
- 32% achieved Highers
The services within the Supported Carer Service include:
a) Mainstream Supported Carers
Glasgow presently has 67 mainstream Supported Carers, who offer 79 family based placements to care leavers from 16 to 24 years old. They try to encourage a move on, if appropriate, at 21 years but will extend to 24 if indicated in the Pathway plan.
b) Intensive Family Support Supported Carers ( IFS)
Glasgow has 7 IFS Supported Carers. They provide placements for 7 young people who have been identified as in need of intensive support due to IFS criteria. They hope to develop a further 5 placements if funding can be sourced.
This is a high support service that caters for the most challenging young people.
c) Pilot Service for 15 year olds
Following discussions around practice issues, the need to extend Supported Carers to 15 year olds was identified in order to:
- Prevent new admissions to care through inappropriately entering residential settings.
- Provide a resource for young mothers and babies that enable them to remain together in a supportive environment.
- Move young people inappropriately placed in residential settings into a family based setting geared to supporting young adolescents.
- Provide a family setting that offers good outcomes and stability for young people until they are 24 years old.
2. Supported Tenancies
Glasgow presently runs 10 Supported Tenancies for care leavers aged 17 years to 24 years, although on rare occasions they have given a placement to a 16 year old. These tenancies are specifically for formerly Looked After and accommodated young people.
The lease for these tenancies is held by Social Work who assumes responsibility for the tenancy. They work closely with colleagues in the CHCP's to deliver a high level of support in the early stages, to prevent disruptions and tailor ongoing support through regular reviews. This support level can vary from 8 hours to 35 hours per week. Young people in these tenancies must be able to evidence a level of independent living skills.
At the end of the placement, young people have the option of having the tenancy transferred to them or being supported to apply for permanent housing in the areas that they would choose to live.
They have links with Community Resources, Health and the Care Leavers Employment Services who ensure that these young people are linked into training, employment or further education.
3. Purchased Placements
Glasgow Leaving Care Services purchases a range of placements for both Looked After and Looked After and accommodated young people once they leave care. Providers include Blue Triangle, Barnardo's, 16 Plus, the Mungo Foundations, Elpis and Walpole.
4. Supplemented Units Forum
Glasgow runs a 6-weekly "Supplemented Unit Forum" involving the Supported Carers Service, Supported Tenancies Service, all the above purchased placements, the Drumchapel Support to Youth Housing Project and NCH Gener8 (both these projects provide support to all vulnerable young people needing support in their own tenancies).
This Forum considers strategy and practice issues. It has recently agreed a new integrated referral form for all the above services and agreed the accommodation section of the Pathway assessment as the admission assessment for all units. They are presently working on new reporting requirements and a new eviction protocol.
A major issue for all the above is sustaining placements during periods of challenging behaviour. They have a short term working group considering this issue to try to develop joint support to prevent placement breakdown. A major recommendation is the development of time out and/or respite facilities (unit or carer based) but funding constraints have delayed progress with this.
All the above units have close links with CLES in order to ensure that young people have an appropriate employment and training pathway plan.
5. Partnership Developments
In partnership with Addiction Services and Glasgow Homelessness Partnership, other services for Looked After young people have been developed.
In particular 2 residential resources have been developed with addiction services for all Looked After young people who have addiction difficulties.
6. Housing Support Service
In partnership with Glasgow Homelessness Partnership the Leaving Care Service is able to access additional support workers from 5 specifically commissioned providers. These workers provide extra support to young people who have struggled to maintain placements and will support them into their own tenancies. This has been very successful and it is hoped to extend this resource and develop specific tenancy sustainment support workers, to give additional support to all Looked After young people when they move into their own tenancies.
Glasgow has also commissioned an intensive support service specifically for care leavers from the Mungo Foundation.
7. Protocol between Glasgow Housing Association and Social Work Service
The Social Work Service and Glasgow Housing Association ( GHA) recently signed up to a new protocol to ensure that care leavers are allocated appropriate housing when ready to move to their own tenancy. Clear timescales, types of offers and the use of the accommodation section of the Pathway plan have been agreed.
8. Statement of Best Practice between Social Work, GHA and Registered Social Landlords
Following on from the success of the protocol with GHA, a draft Statement of Best Practice is under consultation to extend this to all Registered Social Landlords ( RSLs) in Glasgow.
In partnership with the Big Step and GHA, Social Work was involved in 2 pieces of research looking at accommodation for care leavers and vulnerable young people. These reports Give Me Space and Home Alone - Again? have now been published and form the basis of some of their action plans.
10. Care Leavers Employment Service ( CLES) and Glasgow Colleges
This is a partnership between Social Work, Career's Scotland and John Wheatley College which provides individual education and employment support. Staffing consists of two seniors, five careers advisors and 6 employment support workers funded by Social Work and Careers Scotland, as well as two tutors on temporary funding. John Wheatley College also runs coreskill literacy and numeracy classes aimed at making young people ready for work or ready to access mainstream college placements.
A further partnership agreement between Social Work, Career's Scotland and all of Glasgow Colleges looks to provide individual support to enable care leavers to access and attend college.
Highland's priorities for Looked After children and young people who have left care, are set out in the Children's Plan, available at www.forhighlandschildren.org. This sets out the commitment of Highland Council and its partners to work with and support young people to encourage them to reach their full potential.
Highland recently consulted with a group of young people receiving financial support under the 2004 regulations to identify how they might support them further.
The main areas that the young people said they wanted Highland to improve were:
- Levels of financial support
- Short term training opportunities and incentives
- Financial incentives and activities
- Work on returning home during holidays
- Support when they were older and ready to study on a full time basis
Although the young people knew there was extra financial support available on an as required basis, they were keen to have a formalised scheme. They said they were reluctant to ask for extra support, as they felt workers might think they were not coping.
A scheme has since been developed with representatives from the consultation. Young people have targets set for them in partnership with their Pathways co-ordinator. If they are not working, and if they achieve these tasks, they receive a financial incentive. Such tasks include identified projects (for example around life skills), applications for work/college, budgeting, voluntary work and training. Targets are agreed between the young person and their Pathways co-ordinator.
If young people are participating in a short term training course they are given an extra financial incentive during the time on the course.
Young people in receipt of benefits have attended Columba 1400 and Highland has worked in partnership with the Benefits Agency to support them whilst they are attending.
Highland has also supported young people attending IT courses, activities courses with the Prince's Trust, various short term courses at the college and army preparation courses.
Local partners such as Barnardo's, Springboard and the Calman Trust have developed peer mentoring and independent living support schemes. These schemes include group and individual mentoring, a book developed in partnership with young people on independent living, and a website which provides young people with advice on independent living in Highland.
Young people returning from university have been employed on the Highland Council Work Scheme during the summer holidays.
Highland currently supports young people aged 20 years plus in college and will continue financial support to ensure that debts are not built up due to the costs of the course.
17 out of 30 young people Highland currently financially support, are in some form of training/further education.
All young people who receive funding support towards their housing costs while away at college, have their accommodation maintained for them to return to during college holidays, and at the conclusion of their courses.
A recent audit has taken place of 13 care leavers who have not been living in permanent accommodation. This has identified issues that can be addressed across Social Work, Housing and Education Services, to endeavour to ensure young people are better supported at critical times in their lives, and in particular when there are changes in the level of housing or personal support required.
Inverclyde is committed to supporting its care leavers to progress on to positive destinations across the board and this is underpinned by their Corporate Parent policy and the work that is ongoing to support this; initially supported by the Scottish Government funded Improving Educational Outcomes pilot. The Pilot had the following aims and objectives.
- To develop a corporate parenting strategy within the local authority.
- To improve outcomes for Looked After children.
- To improve educational attainment for Looked After children.
- To develop a Children's Champion Scheme.
- To improve numeracy and literacy for Looked After children including early intervention for very young children.
- To enhance the inclusion of Looked After children in universal service provision including arts, sports and recreational activities.
- To develop, more fully, the role of the "nominated teacher".
- Establishing a young people's reference group to inform service planning and development.
- To ensure Council services develop in a way that promotes children's health, wellbeing and self esteem, including the time when children stop being Looked After.
The areas in which Inverclyde look to support care leavers in regard to Section 30 are as follows:
- Ongoing practical support in respect of considering future career directions in partnership with Careers Scotland.
- Financial support with equipment, clothing, course fees, transport costs.
- Ongoing financial support in terms of basic living allowances and accommodation costs.
- Ongoing practical and emotional support from the Throughcare Team which would continue throughout courses of education and training as negotiated with the young person.
Support is offered in response to individual need and would be continued as agreed with young people based on that need.
"I chose to leave care when I was 17 and a half when I went to supported lodgings…which I was given a choice in…they have been such a help."
"When I applied to university I got help with funding. I was able to do this because my Throughcare worker wrote me a cover letter. My Throughcare worker has the same aspirations for me as she would have for her own children."
"I was in supported lodgings for 4 years, and I still go back everyday…and have my dinner…they are my family."
"I can speak to my support worker about anything."
Midlothian Council recognise that all sections of the Council and other agencies have to work together to improve the life opportunities of Looked After children and care leavers. To support this a Corporate Parent Strategy has been worked on in the hope that this will provide a structured approach in this crucial area of work.
Midlothian also supports children and young people who are Looked After and accommodated through an innovative mentoring scheme, "Voice of Experience". The scheme consists of a group of young people, who were previously Looked After and accommodated by Midlothian, who have volunteered their time to offer support to children and young people who are newly accommodated. A visit from "Voice of Experience" allows youngsters to meet with young people who have been through the process, know how it feels and are living proof that individuals can benefit and come out the "other end" ready to take on the challenges of young adult life.
The Council is also keen to support care leavers progress in education, training and employment.
Midlothian has supported 2 young people to successfully achieve university degrees. Key to this success was:
- Support worker accompanied one young person to University outwith Scotland and ensured the right contacts were made.
- Kept regular contact by phone and email.
- Midlothian provided good financial support - rent, travel allowance, house contents insurance, 1 year TV licence, book allowance, top up living allowance.
Other examples of support offered are as follows:
- Two sisters have each got their own nominated tenancy within the same area so that they are able to have good supportive contact.
- Another young person went straight into a nominated tenancy from a foster care placement.
The Young Person's Group has also become the first satellite group of the Debate Project. Senior managers met with them and are using their feed back and experiences to inform training and practice in foster care and residential care.
The following information relates to the young people Moray support, i.e. Looked After and accommodated aged 14+, and care leavers who were accommodated away from home on or after their official school leaving date.
Funding from the Council's Section 29 budget is utilised to provide financial support to young people who were attending further and higher education, and to those who needed financial support to enable them to access training or employment. However, due to no young people moving to attend university of late, the associated accommodation costs and living away from home costs have not been as significant as they once were.
Budgets have been monitored and Moray are now looking to review how they best support future attendance at university, but also how they support young people in further education, training and trying to access employment. This is a task which is currently underway and not yet complete.
The general procedure for young people attending university was:
- All books which were classed as essential reading (if required to be purchased) would be funded.
- All essential stationery would be funded.
- The student would be supported to access a local bursary for subsequent years' funding for books and stationery.
- They do not encourage student loan applications.
- Alternatively, once the student has determined what income they will receive (from alternative sources), they will divide this by 52 weeks to ensure there is a projected weekly income for the whole year.
- They will fully pay for accommodation (they will pay the deposit, but students must ensure they get it back for subsequent years - students are supported to access "summer vacation grants" where appropriate).
- Thereafter, they based weekly expenditures on the following:
Food/cleaning - £23
Feminine hygiene - £1.50
Phone - variable (larger in the first year, then decreases)
Travel - variable (home visits covered - health & safety considered re local travel)
TV licence - weekly rate (licence is paid for the first year, the student needs to save to budget thereafter)
Savings - £2.50 ( e.g. clothes)
Gas/electric - variable
Disposable income - £25
- Once all expenses have been made, they would top up their income to allow the £25 weekly disposable income.
Students are therefore encouraged to undertake employment, which will supplement their income, but not impact on their studies. They will allow for students to earn up to £40 per week above their £25 disposable income, before this would influence what is offered. This is to discourage them neglecting their studies for work.
Examples of Practice in Moray
Moray has recruited a support worker to provide a specific service to 16 and 17 year old care leavers, who are in receipt of financial support from the Council.
This worker will meet with young people regularly to review their situation, reassessing employment, education, and training. The meeting includes a review of the young person's financial entitlement, as well as providing their income, if it is provided in cash. The worker will also liaise with the local Careers Scotland and DWP office, and is also looking to develop improved working relations with the local college and employment support services. The young person's transition to the DWP or into education, training or employment will also be supported.
The post in effect provides a service akin to that provided by the DWP to young people when in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance. This therefore provides some form of routine and monitoring, and prepares the young person for the reality of a similar system, should they have to transfer to the DWP when they reach 18.
Moray are currently reviewing procedures in this respect, to ensure that service provision is more akin to that provided by the DWP. This post therefore removes the potential contentious issues from the young person's allocated worker(s), which can arise in the dissemination of their income. They are currently awaiting confirmation that this post will continue to be funded.
Moray has found this approach to managing the responsibility and provision of financial support to 16 and 17 year old care leavers has had a significant and positive impact on the service provision.
Young People's Participation
Moray has created a service information DVD, which involved young people in its production. It features young people who have worked with the service, sharing their experience about their transition from leaving care to independence. The aim of the DVD is to provide awareness of the service for young people, their carers and referrers, with a view to alleviating any misconceptions or anxieties about the Throughcare/Aftercare Service involvement.
The DVD was officially launched in October 2007. Presentations were made to all of the young people and service providers who supported the production of the DVD by local Councillors. The local newspaper and photographer attended the event and ensured that these young people received public recognition of their input and their achievement.
Since then, a new service leaflet has been created and Moray is currently working with a young person, carer and referrer to devise an information booklet, to accompany this new range of service information. Moray is also updating the Council's website in line with the leaflet.
As well as having a regular slot in the Children's Rights newsletter the young people are now considering producing their own newsletter. They are also endeavouring to get a regular slot in their local newsletter for foster carers.
Moray have also invited all of their young people to attend a discussion and social event to identify how they may want to support each other in future, i.e. the newsletter/a young person's social support group, etc.
North Ayrshire Council
North Ayrshire Council clearly stated its commitment to Looked After children and young people and care leavers.
North Ayrshire has created a Looked After children's Health Team which provides both one to one and group work support to Looked After children. The Team has a community mental health nurse who is linked with the NHSCAMHS team, and provides one to one interventions with Looked After children. The links with the CAMHS team has facilitated prioritisation and speedier access to further specialist help where required.
These developments are relatively recent and 'evidence' to date is anecdotal with positive views from staff and young people.
Education and Employment
Partnership working between Education and Social Services has put in place a range of initiatives and services to improve provision for 143 Looked After young people, including:
- Personal education plan from evidencing learning skills and needs.
- Provision for Looked After young people is addressed within strategies to improve attendance and exclusions; More Choices, More Chances strategy; lower attaining 20% of pupils plans; Additional Support for Learning. Each school also has a Looked After children's co-ordinator.
- Community Learning and Development are also involved in the provision of support to Looked After and accommodated young people with specific educational needs.
- A joint agency protocol is in place between Social Services and Education on confidentiality and sharing sensitive information concerning Looked After children.
A Working for Families worker works with throughcare young parents on job search and college/
training placements. A full evaluation will be undertaken of this initiative, however examples of benefits to date include:
- One young mother in employment.
- Two have taken courses.
- Young parents attending a local young mum's group.
- Work ongoing with other young people.
Ongoing Support for Young People
North Ayrshire Council also has a mentoring project which supports Looked After children and young people.
In terms of formal aftercare planning and support, this is only offered, in the majority of cases, to young people who were Looked After and accommodated. Young people who have been Looked After and not accommodated beyond their school leaving date can apply for financial support for education or training needs via a flexibility budget where their request will be assessed and consideration given to their previous involvement with Social Services.
North Ayrshire Council, unlike some local authorities, does not hold a separate Section 30 budget but young people can access appropriate funding within the Section 29 budget.
Young people eligible for this support have accessed funding for travel costs to college, clothing for college or training, materials including books required for the course and the costs for fees required. The numbers of young people in full time education, especially at university level, are fairly low (11 in full time education). One young person successfully completed a degree course in 2008 and one young person is to embark on a degree course in October this year. Financial assistance was provided for computers where required, living expenses and graduation costs for the young person who graduated. Any request for assistance for education is considered favourably to ensure young people can access educational opportunities.
Many of the young people undertaking full-time education at a higher level have previously been accommodated in foster placement rather than residential care. In these cases, the young people continue to reside with foster carers until their education is completed. Should they reach 21 years of age prior to completion, the Throughcare Project ensures that accommodation is available for young people.
Accommodation for young people, who are in full-time education or training but no longer Looked After, is made available by the Housing department. A joint Housing/Social Work protocol is currently being finalised which attempts to ensure that the most appropriate accommodation option is made available to young people. The protocol will include all care leavers until 21 years, or beyond if in full-time education.
A very small minority of young people over the age of 16 who were previously Looked After and accommodated by the authority and continue to be on supervision orders via the Children's Hearing System are supported in accommodation assessed to be the most appropriate for their needs which takes account of education, training or employment options.
A small number of Supported Carer placements are also available as an accommodation option for young people. The high level of support and encouragement offered by the carers has often proven to be beneficial to young people in sustaining education, employment and training they have undertaken. The authority constantly strives to recruit more Supported Carers but it has proven to be difficult.
As previously stated, only young people who have been Looked After and accommodated have access to formal care planning and support until at least 19 years of age. Some young people who return to family members after the age of 16 choose to have limited contact. For the vast majority of the others, they engage well with staff from the Throughcare Project and receive support until 21 years of age. The draft protocol between Social Services and Housing will include young people up to the age of 21. There is no distinction made to the level of support offered in terms of age but is needs led via an ongoing care planning and review process. Beyond the age of 21 if further support is required, referrals will be made to the most appropriate agency, with the agreement of young people.
North Lanarkshire council
North Lanarkshire Council's vision for Looked After children and young people is that they are supported to achieve their potential and be included, safe and healthy.
The Council's aspiration is that all services are delivered locally and measured by quality of life outcomes. For this reason, the existing centralised Throughcare and Aftercare support service is being redesigned to enable support to be offered and delivered as close to the point of contact as possible. This will evolve from the young person's last care placement and their support will be assisted by residential childcare workers and foster carers. Existing services commissioned from the independent sector will help the Council in its support to care leavers.
Within the scope of the regulations for supporting care leavers, North Lanarkshire Council undertakes its financial support duties by ensuring that all compulsory supported young people have agreed basic levels of personal finance, never less than that would be achieved from the DWP, and with additional incentives for education and training opportunities.
This financial support underpins personal income support for those who are eligible. They, and all other young people (non compulsory) who have either left care or previously been Looked After, are offered support for their plan which is funded according to need. Examples of this include:
- Accommodation support for young people in higher education.
- Purchasing tools and equipment for young people in training and apprenticeships.
- Job coaching services.
- Attendance on motivational and personal development courses and programmes.
- Funding additional health support.
Partnership is a key principle of service delivery in North Lanarkshire Council. Within the scope of section 30 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 the council has developed partnerships with:
- Jobcentre Plus, Springboard for training and employment.
- A partnership business plan for holistic therapy services with the FE colleges in Motherwell, Coatbridge and Cumbernauld.
- NHS Lanarkshire for comprehensive health support before and after leaving care.
- Strathclyde Police for community safety.
North Lanarkshire Council is developing a corporate parenting strategy, which will bring its own services together, with partner agencies, for the purpose of progressing its agenda for Looked After children and young people. It has already progressed an education attainment and achievement strategy. This is a focused approach, which has produced increased results during the past 2 years.
A dedicated education support service and a Flexible Learning Project to support young people, individually with tailored education packages, who are experiencing difficulties with mainstream education, is helping to produce these results.
It is the Council's view that support, accommodation and health are key elements for economic and quality of life outcomes for young people leaving care.
Support is offered on a personal basis via dedicated throughcare support workers. Other services, some commissioned from the independent sector, are also available out of office hours, especially at weekends.
Accommodation is designed around individual needs. This might include arrangements with family and friends, or privately rented accommodation. Three resources that are able to be accessed include:
- Supported Carers - a well established form of supported accommodation that has been successfully developed in North Lanarkshire over the last 10 years. There are currently 15 supported carers who have been assessed and registered via the Fostering and Adoption Panel. Each carer has a dedicated link worker. It is the Council's aspiration to also develop its children's carers service (foster carers) towards a more flexible approach in supporting young people in their transition towards adulthood.
- An intensive intermediate housing support service has been commissioned from a housing association to enable young people to be prepared for their transition to living more independently.
- A housing protocol has been approved by the Council which will enable young people leaving care to be prioritised for their housing needs. It is a key element towards fulfilling the local authorities corporate parent responsibility.
North Lanarkshire's health strategy for care leavers has been delivered with the co-ordination undertaken by a health liaison officer who has ensured easier and faster access to existing health services. This has enabled an integrated community based approach to ensuring that all Looked After and accommodated children are able to be offered health assessments and services before and after leaving care.
Orkney Islands council
Following the publication of We Can and Must Do Better and the election of a new Council early in 2007, a major seminar on corporate parenting was planned and delivered to Members and Senior Officers. The Council has since considered a baseline report on its corporate parenting outcomes and established a Member/Officer Working Group to develop strategy, policy and initiatives to support improvement in services for Looked After children.
Throughcare and aftercare services are provided through Orkney's local residential resource unit. This provides flexibility in the support work (including availability at evenings and weekends) and an identifiable "Safe Place/Secure Base" where a young person can go if in need of help or in a crisis. A core group model for coordinating the detail of support arrangements is used, with core groups meeting regularly between Pathway reviews. The service is planning to develop comprehensive "over 16s" provision for assessment, prevention and coordinated support for all vulnerable young people, not only those with a statutory entitlement to aftercare support.
Housing Services are involved from an early stage in Pathway planning through the Reviews and core groups for young people likely to move towards independent Housing. The residential resource unit includes an independent living flat and the joint protocol with Housing for the management of this is being revised and updated. All young people - not only those who have been Looked After - who move into tenancies or emergency housing before the age of 18 have a housing support package. Young people receiving aftercare support also have a co-ordinator and keyworker support.
It can be difficult to secure engagement with young people who want to separate from the Looked After system and try for independence. Orkney's service makes a particular effort to keep in touch even when involvement is resisted, and will always welcome young people back. In a recent case example, a young woman, who had been Looked After away from home, who had refused contact for over 9 months returned to seek refuge and was accommodated again in the residential service. She eventually moved on through the independent living flat and is now being intensively supported in her own tenancy.
Educational attainment of Looked After children and young people is generally high, but there is no complacency in relation to this. In a small local authority services are highly individualised and there is awareness of particular children's needs, and specific expectations for their achievement, at a senior level. Orkney's More Choices, More Chances strategy has particularly focused on all young people with a care or protection background, encompassing vulnerable young people not formally receiving aftercare support. A policy to manage educational outcomes is well-established and the Social Work service works very closely with colleagues in Education and Careers Scotland to provide support, practical assistance and resources to promote and enhance Looked After children's learning, training, and employment needs in Orkney. The flexible and personalised nature of these packages of support is illustrated in our case studies.
- Case Example: Young Person J
A young person had experience of both school and family issues leading to J becoming Looked After away from home. Specialist education and care provision was provided outwith Orkney. This experience significantly helped J to achieve a number of standard grades and increase his interest in learning. He was able to return to Orkney and complete his education at the local school with support.
He expressed a keen interest in a marine related career. Funding was provided to enable J's attendance at a Certificated Sea Survival Course at the local college. As a result of close working with the local Careers service, which has an identified worker for throughcare/aftercare and vulnerable young people, a sought after course at a nautical college was identified. Section 30 funding secured supported accommodation for J in the area, as part of a partnership package of financial and practical assistance. As a result, J was able to live away from home and study to achieve qualifications. He has now secured employment in the merchant navy.
- Case Example: Young Person A
Due to family issues A became a Looked After child. After a brief period in short term foster care she moved to a long term family placement, and subsequently was supported to move with her foster carers when they left Orkney, as she wished.
- A remained with her foster carers, moving on to college.
- Section 30 funding support was given to A to purchase necessary books and equipment; plus an allowance towards her rent.
- Contact was made with the local Throughcare/Aftercare Team who arranged for a Support Worker to be put in place. Orkney Islands Council maintained responsibility for A.
- A decided that the course chosen was not one she wished to pursue and she applied for, and was accepted to another course in another area.
- Orkney continued to review her need for services 6-monthly and also continued to assist A's foster family with a rent allowance.
- Liaison with the local Throughcare/Aftercare Team was put in place but, due to resources and demands on their service, support could only be offered by that service on a crisis basis.
- Orkney continued support by telephone and 3-monthly visits to A at her home.
A completed almost 2 years of her course before deciding to change and moved to be nearer her foster carers.
- Liaison was set up between Orkney and Barnardo's, in her local area, who administered Throughcare/Aftercare support.
- Financial support was stopped as A had found employment but telephone and
3-monthly visits to support her were maintained by her Orkney coordinator.
- Financial assistance had also been given to her with regard to moving her belongings and furniture when she made her various moves.
- After a period of stability, A recently moved back to an area where, after liaison with the Housing Allocation Department local, she has been allocated a tenancy. Active co-ordination has ceased but A will always be welcome to seek contact.
Perth and Kinross Council
Perth and Kinross emphasised its commitment to providing support to Looked After children and care leavers from across their Council services.
A strategy for Looked After children was presented to their Lifelong Learning Committee in June 2007, taking forward a number of improvements to aspects of service delivery for Looked After children in keeping with We Can and Must Do Better and to delivering a Corporate Parent Strategy.
The Corporate Parent Strategy is currently being developed. This will involve Heads of Service taking on responsibility for a Looked After young person at arms length. They will receive regular reports as to their progress and will tackle any difficulties they have in receiving services. This will highlight the challenges they are experiencing and the achievements they have made.Another initiative is the development of a city centre provision in Perth in partnership with Youth Services. This will allow young people who were Looked After to access specialist advice from partner agencies, such as Health, Careers and Housing, as well as providing access to general advice for young people in the community, under the one roof; a "one-stop shop". The centre will operate in the evenings and at weekends so providing additional support outside normal working hours. The business case has been approved and this is moving to the next stage.
The Council have streamlined the referral and assessment for young people entitled to support in respect of Section 29 Children (Scotland) Act 1995 so that all young people who qualify for a service will be subject to a Pathways assessment, whether this is carried out by their Throughcare Service or by Youth Services.
All young people who qualify for support under Section 29 will have a health assessment and a careers plan formulated as part of the assessment.
Two posts have also been secured to work with throughcare young people in terms of their substance misuse. This will be a dedicated service.
A 10-beded hostel, Wellbank, funded mainly through Supporting People and working in partnership with Housing Services, provides individual support to young people, including those leaving care, at risk of homelessness. They also recently acquired satellite supported accommodation to ease the transition to independence in the community.
Young people who are eligible for ongoing financial support through Section 29 receive a basic allowance which is no less than they would receive if in on DWP benefits. If they are training or at college this is topped up by £20 per week. They are also helped financially with the cost of books or equipment.
The Council are in the process of rolling out an incentive programme for all those who qualify for a service whereby if they attend sessions with Health, Careers Scotland, youth services and attend a Pathways review, they will receive a mobile top up voucher. A number of the large mobile service providers are keen to be a part of this.
It is hoped that this will help the young people prepare for further education or employment, through a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency level of service provision.
In terms of supporting young people through further education, Perth and Kinross are involved with a project through Dundee University looking at how best to support care leavers.
The Council offer a financial package which is aimed at supporting young people until they have finished their course. One young person was also supported in returning to their foster home during holidays as she attended a university some miles away.
A young people's forum which is specifically for young people who are or have been Looked After has been set up. This meets fortnightly and provides an opportunity for the group to discuss what has worked well for them being Looked After and what they believe needs to change in order to make the service more helpful for those who are Looked After or who will become Looked After. Senior management within the Council regularly seek feedback from the group on their experiences of services and what needs to change in the future. The group will also be involved in supporting the development of the drop-in and other council services. This group in turn feeds into the youth council.
Perth and Kinross are currently building a website for the Throughcare service. The plan is that all young people will have a log in and password, which will allow them to complete their Pathways assessment online. The website will have links to all agencies and have a member's forum whereby comments on the service, new initiatives and employment opportunities can be made.
"I had an apprenticeship which meant I wasn't getting paid very much. So my worker helped me work through what I had to spend my money on and how to manage it."
Renfrewshire has a Corporate Parenting Policy. Accompanying this is an agreed structure and process for scrutinising the implementation of the policy which ensures that the level of support and guidance available to staff, elected members and agencies commissioned to deliver services for Looked After children is effective.
Renfrewshire Council also has a Looked After Children Strategy Group, which has multi-agency membership. Their output contributes to the development of the Integrated Children's Services Plan.
The Housing and Social Work Service in Renfrewshire is committed to its services for young people leaving care and there is a designated team within Social Work which works closely with partners in Housing.
The Throughcare Team
All young people are assigned an allocated worker, and those moving into their own tenancies also have an allocated Support Worker. The Throughcare Team operates a duty system so that young people can be seen at all times regardless of the availability of their own worker.
Renfrewshire Council provides different types of financial assistance to young people entitled to support under Section 30 regulations. Depending on their circumstances, young people are entitled to support with:
- accommodation costs
- living expenses, including help with heating and lighting (young people on low incomes and on training placements may receive 'top-up' payments)
- travelling expenses
- work/study equipment, including course books
- clothing allowance
- course fees
- payments to tutors
- driving lessons
- child care costs (in circumstances where no other source of funding is available)
The Council pays rent for young people up to the age of 18, or for the total length of time that a young person undertakes a course of education. Young people in full-time education can be supported until the age of 24. In addition, students are given a temporary maintenance allowance over the summer if they are not in employment, although all young people are encouraged to work while studying. Young people on a training course receive a "top-up" incentive payment where the training allowance is less than £70 per week. A maintenance allowance is also provided to young people who move back in with their families, where this is a planned move reflected in the Pathway assessment.
There are a number of accommodation options for young people in Renfrewshire moving on from children's units, residential schools and secure units. Based on their level of need, young people can move directly into their own tenancy; into a supported (satellite) flat; or into a supported accommodation resource.
Young people can be fast tracked for Council housing and the Throughcare Team has also developed a contract with one of the local Housing Associations. Renfrewshire is also developing links with other Housing Associations to fast track applications and to provide more opportunities for housing young people in their preferred area.
Young people with higher support needs can be placed in a satellite flat. The satellite flats are primarily intended for young people moving out of children's units or supported accommodation projects as a preparatory step before moving into their own tenancy. A dedicated team of workers are attached to these flats, and provide a range of support to young people, in line with the Pathway plan and Housing Support plan.
Supported accommodation placements are available via homeless services and also from external providers, including the YMCA and The Blue Triangle. Renfrewshire also finance supported carer placements. Currently, these are conversions from foster placements, but they are also attempting to recruit more supported carers for young people moving out of units.
The Throughcare Project operates a leisure scheme, which gives young people the opportunity to access local gym facilities.
Scottish Borders Council
Scottish Borders Council provide financial support to care leavers which includes incentive payments for all young people in training, further/higher education and employment. They also provide assistance to young people who require special equipment or clothing in the course of their training, e.g. catering, hairdressing and mechanical. The Council will also provide travel assistance and incentive payments for young people who attend courses which do not attract allowances or are not accredited by Careers Scotland, e.g. Window of Time project.
One young person who secured a place on an HNC course in Glasgow had her accommodation costs paid by Scottish Borders Council, and this, along with a full bursary ensured that she did not require a student loan.
They currently have 21 young people aged 16+ who remain accommodated with carers of whom seven are aged 18+.
Both the Scottish Borders Corporate Parenting Group and the Scottish Borders More Choices, More Chances Working Group have identified as priorities the ongoing support of care leavers. The latter stipulates as a key priority: "to guarantee that every young person leaving care has access to and is supported through a further education/training/or employment opportunity".
To this end, for example, Borders College has secured funding from the Group to "support vulnerable young learners to experience success and promote their employability". The proposal specifically refers to We Can and Must Do Better and identifies care leavers as a target group for this project.
The Scottish Borders Corporate Parenting Group has identified as a key action "to develop a bank of work placement opportunities for Looked After children". A final draft of the "Scottish Borders Corporate Parenting Strategy" has been presented to elected members. The framework proposed within this paper clearly identifies the need to enhance the Corporate Planning role and utilise the responsibilities of all Council and partner agencies to provide greater and better opportunities for Looked After children and care leavers.
Shetland Council supports its Looked After children and care leavers by assessing their needs and meeting those needs. For example, if a young person leaves the Looked After system and goes into training or education, Shetland will cover course costs and any material costs related to the course. They will also pay for accommodation where appropriate. Shetland also offer support from a known officer of the Council. This is usually someone from the residential establishment whom the young person knows.
Shetland does accommodate young people beyond their 18th birthday. They consider the young person's ability for independent living from 14 and "map" this. They use an "independent living flat" which is attached to their children's home to assist in the transition. They have also leased Council properties for Looked After children and put staffing into these to assist with the transition in an as "real" an environment as possible. They use Pathway planning to assist this.
They support care leavers up to the age of 21 both in cash and in kind, regardless of training or employment status. If a young person is not in employment or training they pay benefit equivalent and support the young person using a range of staff including housing support workers, social workers, family support workers and residential care staff. The purpose of the support is to enable the young person to access better life chances such as employment and training. This is done in a variety of ways depending on the young person's needs.
The above must be taken into the context of very few care leavers in Shetland.
South Ayrshire Council
The Throughcare Support Team, part of South Ayrshire's Children and Families Services, provides a service to young people aged between 15-21 years who are/were accommodated or Looked After by the local authority, and also to vulnerable young people who are homeless or threatened by homelessness.
The team works in partnership with area team Social Workers, Youth Support Service, Careers Scotland, Homeless Service, Private Sector Care Providers, Private Landlords, Schools, Health Services, and Training Providers to support these young people. Through these partnerships they aim to ensure that young people receive a service that is individualised and takes account of their unique situation.
South Ayrshire assess young people's needs and where appropriate, support them to sustain family relationships and accommodation at home. Where a young person is in housing need, however, they endeavour to provide them with safe, secure and suitable accommodation that meets their needs.
The Throughcare Support Team aims to provide sound advice and guidance on a range of issues linked to independent living. This includes, tenancy management, training and employment, budgeting, practical living skills and being a good neighbour.
A range of services are offered to young people including:
- Individual contact and crisis support
- Financial support
- Groupwork/drop-in facilities
- Practical and emotional support
- Information and links to advocacy services
- Evening and week-end support
- Mediation services
- Support at an early stage of presentation.
- Family Mediation
South Ayrshire aim to have all young people Looked After away from home referred to the Throughcare Support Team at the age of 15 years. This then allows them, in conjunction with area team social workers, key workers and the young person the opportunity to plan and prepare for the time when the young person is no longer Looked After.
If young people are unable to return home following being Looked After, or if young people are unable to remain at home post 16 and enter the homeless system, positive contact with family is always considered and supported where appropriate. To this end, the Throughcare Support Team offer a Family Mediation service by having a specialist Mediation post. The post holder works with young people and their parents and carers on a preventative basis to avoid young people becoming homeless, but also to develop positive ongoing family contact and support when it is not possible for the young person to return or remain at home post-16.
The Throughcare Nurse works alongside colleagues in the Throughcare Support Team providing direct specialist support and intervention to young people, as well as providing support and assistance to the team in relation to mental health issues. The post holder has a wide network of professional contacts who can support access to the wider range of health service provision for this vulnerable group of young people. South Ayrshire consider this a key post and it's development has been particularly well-received by young people and professional colleagues alike.
South Ayrshire consider that this post has made a significant impact on the range and quality of service provision available to young people who have previously been Looked After away from home or who are currently within the homeless system and supported by the Throughcare Support Team.
In relation to the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act Section 73(1), South Ayrshire operates a multi-agency/multi-disciplinary Youth Housing Support Group, which aims to address the housing and support needs of care leavers. This forum, which has been in operation for over 10 years now, meets fortnightly and considers the specific and general needs of this group of young people.
In addition, the Council undertake to include young people in the evaluation of their Throughcare services via an annual consultation process, and specific consultation in relation to group work programmes and also via individual case review meetings.
A recently completed research project undertaken by Stirling University entitled Staying Afloat: Effective Interventions with Young People in South Ayrshire had significant input from current and previous Looked After young people.
South Ayrshire gave the following examples of recent/current practice:
- Providing ongoing payment of accommodation costs to enable a young person to complete a three year college course. This young person, now aged 21 years, was also provided with clothing and a laptop computer to assist with her studies. She has received ongoing access to supports from the Throughcare Team via group and individual support.
- Young person now aged 18 years, has had her placement, out with her home authority, with specialist carers continued, as well as funding for a weekly taxi to enable her to continue with work experience. This enabled her to gain enough relevant experience to be accepted into a college course studying animal care.
- Two young people aged 19 years have had specialist carers placements extended as well as having driving lessons funded to enhance employment prospects, with one young person accessing the literacy support worker attached to the Throughcare Team.
- Young woman aged 18 years being funded to complete her Bronze Medallion Life Saving Award and currently being funded through a Trampoline Instructors Certificate to enhance employment prospects.
- Individual incentive programme for a young woman aged 18 years to sustain college course, which aims to celebrate success and achievement.
- Young woman aged 19, with mild learning difficulties receiving ongoing access to Throughcare Team, with inclusion in summer programme as well as inclusion in Columba 1400 group.
South Lanarkshire Council
South Lanarkshire Council have used Section 30 to pay the accommodation costs of care leavers who are undertaking courses in further or higher education. These payments continue until the course of study has been completed and is provided for those who are over the age of 21 years in order for them to have support until the end of their studies, without the burden of financial worries. Supplementary bursaries are also provided in order to ensure that students have a minimum of £20 per week above basic benefit levels.
The Council discourages young people from taking student loans whilst encouraging them to seek part-time employment. If young people undertake voluntary work they are provided with financial incentives. Travel costs are also provided, which takes into account contact for those studying away from home. Similarly, if special equipment is required, then this can be covered. In terms of proactive support for care leavers, funding for up to 10 driving lessons is provided. Young people are also offered regular meetings to offer support and review their financial circumstances.
The Council also fully promotes the continued accommodation and support for young people at least until 18 years and have completely modernised all residential child care accommodation over the past 3 years, with the tenth new, individually designed house due to be ready at the end of the year. Of the 70 young people currently accommodated, there are 5 young people aged 17, 2 aged 18 and 2 aged 19. Similarly, there is an emphasis on continuous care within the fostering service, with carers encouraged and supported to Look After young people until at least their 18th birthday, with support from the Throughcare and Aftercare Team thereafter.
South Lanarkshire has a high level of commitment from elected members, through the planning and operational issues of the 10 new residential child care homes. They have also enjoyed consistent elected member support in terms of the decision making and development of family placement services through full participation in the Adoption and Fostering Panels and through practice development. There are also elected members who have been involved in the Youthstart project which comes under Enterprise Resources and works on a voluntary basis with care leavers and homeless young people and young adults in terms of education, employment and training.
All young people Looked After at home are in the process of having their Care plans reviewed. Their Pathway planning needs are being addressed as part of this process with local office social workers taking the lead with advice and support from the Council's centrally organised specialist service.
The Scottish Government funded Raising the Educational Attainment of Looked After Young People ( REAL) project has demonstrated good outcomes for young people Looked After at home in the areas of education, social integration and reduction in offending behaviours. The approach has been holistic and has involved inter-agency and external partnerships. Careers Scotland is an integral part of the Service.
The current cohort is expecting to succeed in qualifications at Access 3 level through to Standard Grades. The outcomes in terms of the More Choices, More Chances group are positive, as all young people are moving on to College places (6 young people) or Compass for Life placements (2 young people).
The REAL project was short-listed for 2 awards - Schools for All Awards and Local Authorities Making a Difference.
The service for those formerly Looked After and accommodated is currently demonstrating some good practice as reflected in the Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum's publication How Good is Your Throughcare and Aftercare Service? (Quality indicators for Best Practice). The following is taken directly from the publication:
- Young people can move to preparation flats within the same building as the residential unit.
- Young people also use their previous foster placement as a home base when at university or college.
- Young people have access to a financial transition period which covers rent costs when moving accommodation.
Stirling's policies set out the Council's commitment to good outcomes for care leavers. The statement on the Financial Assessment and Support to Care Leavers provides for a financial incentive for young people remaining in full time education. This payment is in addition to any EMA payment they may receive.
Young people are readily supported with their accommodation costs and provided with appropriate maintenance when in further and higher education.
The Service has developed a local Supported Lodgings Scheme, which provides accommodation and support to care leavers, and other vulnerable young people aged 16-21.
Stirling Council works effectively with other authorities in the provision of support on their behalf to formerly Looked After young people studying at Stirling University.
The Throughcare and Aftercare Service is preparing for a self-evaluation involving stakeholders which will inform the Children's Service Plan 2008-11. The aim of this self-evaluation is to identify areas of development for service delivery and corporate parenting.
West Dunbartonshire Council
There are good strategic and operational links across a number of agencies, but particularly between Education and Social Work, which have a strong focus and staff commitment to the education of vulnerable groups of children, including Looked After children.
These links and supports range from early intervention and young families support, through to co-ordinated approaches to children's education in primary school through to secondary and specialist provision.
The Leaving Care Team approaches their work through early identification of young people to encourage proper Pathway planning. The Council encourage young people not to leave care too early, and work with them on a voluntary basis.
When they are ready to leave the physical environment of their care placement, they move into good quality accommodation with built in support. This could include supported lodgings, semi-independent living, temporary flat, young people's hostel. In all of these, the young people are supported by their key worker from the team as well as others who provide the accommodation. An important element in this approach is that the young person is allowed to fail, but will be supported through this. This means that some young people can move across a range of accommodation resources but will maintain the support of their throughcare worker. In many cases the throughcare worker will support them from 15/16 years through to early 20s and beyond in some cases.
This level of support is further supplemented by a variety of organisations locally, some examples are: Careers Scotland; Housing; NCH Scotland; Prince's Trust; Columba 1400 Academies; Substance Misuse Services.
Financial support is a major element in the overall support package for young people, with particular emphasis given to supporting young people through further education and training. All the young people that the team support can receive financial support at various times, but at any given time there are usually around 12 young people being supported financially who are in full time education. This financial support covers - income maintenance; accommodation costs; educational equipment and celebration, e.g. rewards for passing exams, etc. and support for crises or unforeseen costs. Financial support is also available for young people who have difficulty sustaining their initial attempts at further education.
West Lothian council
Social Work and Housing Partnerships
West Lothian has a joint partnership arrangement between the Throughcare/Aftercare Team and Homeless Services under the umbrella of Young Adult Services for young people aged 16-21, which was set up in June 2003. Under this umbrella of Young Adult Services, there is the Throughcare/Aftercare Team (Social Policy) Youth Housing and Support Team (part of Homeless Services) and Moving In To Health (Health, Mental Health and Well being services). This creates a one stop shop access point for vulnerable young people aged 16-21.
Young Adult Services operate a joint duty drop-in service which allows for both Social Policy, Housing and Health to work in a realistic and pro-active manner for the young person's overall welfare needs due to the co-location of all 3 services in the same office space. This co-location results in face to face discussions between relevant services, which include homeless emergency accommodation provision and resettlement. This leads to effective and reduced timescales for resolution of any issues, particularly in crisis situations and ensures young people have the most appropriate safe and secure accommodation the local authority can offer at the time, as well as allowing the young person's wider personal and social needs to be addressed by all relevant services.
Accommodation and Support
The Throughcare/Aftercare Team and Youth Housing and Support Team also gate-keep
3 specialised accommodation services, in partnership with 2 organisations, covering both the voluntary and private sector. These partnerships allow Young Adult Services access to suitable accommodation for the more complex and high risk young people within aftercare, and also young people from the main homeless route. These accommodation providers are also part of the wider network of accommodation providers within West Lothian. Young Adult Services, along-side appropriate internal services, facilitate both operational and strategic meetings with these accommodation providers and link in with existing internal partnerships such as Moving Into Health and wider Health Services.
The Throughcare/Aftercare Team and the Youth Housing Support Team have developed over the years, an effective use of Scottish Short Secure Tenancies, based on evidence of young persons' ability and experience combined with vulnerability and risk factors, which could result in the young person becoming homeless or roofless due to eviction or abandonment of their tenancy. The use of SSST based on evidence of welfare needs protects both the young person and the local authority not only with regards to personal costs to the young person, but also the extreme costs incurred through failed tenancies, and sometimes the merry-go-round of homeless provision for young people.
Advocacy and Listening to Young People
An advocacy group has been developed for young people receiving aftercare support relating to their housing support needs. There are now set dates throughout the year (every 2 months) for young people with housing support issues to come along to a meeting to discuss these with key individuals within the Throughcare/Aftercare Team, Housing, outside agencies, etc. The group will be run by young people and they will set the agenda for the meeting. This group was set up after discussion with young people and the Care Commission after the last inspection in December 2007.
The aim is to widen this group to include other advocacy groups such as the Having Your Say and Clued Up groups, and to discuss wider throughcare and aftercare issues.
West Lothian also works in partnership with Careers Scotland in relation to an agreement to have a dedicated Careers Scotland Advisor based at the Throughcare/Aftercare Team office on a weekly basis. This sits alongside the dedicated Youth Inclusion Worker ( YIP). Both of these services facilitate young people's progression into education/training and employment opportunities. The Throughcare/
Aftercare Team and Careers Scotland have developed an incentives record card where Careers Scotland record attendance for interview etc and the Team funds an appropriate incentive for those young people.
West Lothian Council has a partnership agreement with Careers Scotland to ensure that the key details of Looked After young people are passed to them at least 12 weeks prior to a young person's school leaving date. They have also developed joint training sessions which will be rolled out to include other services, such as Housing and Health.
The Throughcare/Aftercare Team also work in partnership with the Welfare Rights Services and have a dedicated Welfare Rights Officer based within the team. This facilitates not only an effective service for young people accessing DWP benefits, but also the wider financial support available under corporate parenting for young people aged up to their 21st birthday, such as the use of Section 29 and 30 support.
The Welfare Rights Officer has set up a partnership agreement with local Credit Unions which allows young people to save on a regular basis. This is backed up by incentives to encourage young people to move away from having debts.
Financial Support and Accommodation
West Lothian has a financial policy for young people which they believe fully supports young people to move on positively.
The financial policy was written with the corporate parenting responsibility at the centre, and as such it includes partnership input from young people, Housing, Education, Welfare Rights services and Careers Scotland.
Both the financial policy and front line support to young people are underpinned by ensuring, as far as possible, that all young people have safe and secure accommodation, ranging from their own tenancy to supported accommodation provided by both voluntary and private providers. This range of supported accommodation includes a Supported Adult Placements Scheme, for young people aged 18 to 21. A key development in this area has been the joint partnership between Social Work and Housing, in particular the Youth Housing Support Team. This partnership has allowed both services to have a greater understanding of each others' resources as well as the issues faced by their young people.
The financial policy is focused on encouraging young people, via incentives, to reach their potential and supports them in their career paths in the context of individual needs. For example young people who continue into college are given financial support but also have the security of knowing they can financially plan for their college or university course up until their 24th birthday.
When a young person finds work, financial support is never automatically withdrawn, but the young person is, based on an individual assessment of need, given continued support, possibly with further assistance with rent or top ups to their wages. This removes one of the most common barriers that many young people report when attempting to begin their training or employment careers.
The following are examples of how their flexible policy removes barriers and provides incentives:
- W is 18 years old and is intending to embark on his university career when he finishes his present college training. He was unable to afford an educational trip therefore Section 30 was used to finance this.
- X is 19 years old and found employment in a local supermarket. By giving support under Section 30 for a bus pass this allowed her to sustain her employment and ensures that X is financially better off in employment than on benefits.
- Y is a 19 year old who is studying social care at college. Assistance was given to Y under Section 30 which included a contribution towards her rented accommodation. She was also encouraged to financially plan for the remainder of her course.
- Z is an 18 year old who wished to attend University. An assessment was made of her finances once she had accessed all grants and loans available to her. In order to allow her the opportunity to manage financially until the end of her University degree, she was offered the opportunity of a financial package assisting her with accommodation costs until the end of her University course under Section 30.