Throughcare and Aftercare
The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 (as amended) and the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 set out that as of 1 April 2015 local authorities have a statutory duty to prepare young people for ceasing to be looked after ("Throughcare’’) and to provide advice, guidance and assistance for young people who have ceased to be looked after ("Aftercare’’) on or after their 16th birthday. There is a duty on local authorities to provide this support up to the age of 19 and a duty to assess any eligible needs up to their 26th birthday, or beyond at their own discretion.
The changes introduced by the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 put in statute the policy aspirations of These are our Bairns and Staying Put Scotland.
These duties are set out in the Support and Assistance of Young People Leaving Care (Scotland) Regulations 2003 and accompanying guidance - further specific guidance on Aftercare following the changes introduced by the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act is being drafted and consulted on and will be made available here shortly.
The 2003 Regulations were consequentially amended as of 1 April 2015 by the Support and Assistance of Young People Leaving Care (Scotland) Regulations 2015 (SSI 2015/62) to extend the categories of aftercare support provided for by the 2014 Act.
From 1 April 2015, Continuing Care will entitle a young person born after 1 April 1999 and is looked after in foster, kinship or residential care to remain in their current care placement up to their 21st birthday under new provisions in part 11 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. If the placement cannot be maintained due to any of the exemptions set out in the 2014 Act or if in consultation with the young person it is deemed to be in their best interest to have an alternative placement/support, then we would expect this to be provided along with a welfare assessment showing why the placement would significantly adversely affect the young person’s wellbeing.
An eligible young person who ceases to be looked after on or after the 16th birthday is entitled to request Continuing Care under section 60 of the 2014 Act amending section 26 of the Children’s Scotland Act 1995. A young person in Continuing Care will not be ‘looked after’ but the Act requires that the same supports are provided to the young person as when they were ‘looked after’.
Guidance to help deliver Continuing Care is being developed in consultation with local authorities, service providers including carers, the third sector and young people and will be published here shortly.
Return to Care and further extension of Aftercare
This remains a Ministerial commitment, announced by Aileen Campbell, Minister for Children and Young People in November 2013, to allow care leavers to return to care up to the age of 21 years old.
The collaborative approach towards developing existing policies on Aftercare and Continuing Care will go some way to informing the next steps towards a return to care policy as part of the post-implementation process.
In summer 2015 we convened a Working Group - comprising sectoral representatives, service providers, local authorities, young people, and other relevant stakeholders – to explore options and develop a framework ‘blueprint’ for a return to care policy. In addition, the group will advise and support the Scottish Government to develop a realistic and deliverable policy for extending aftercare support to additional groups of young people under Ministerial powers in section 66 of the 2014 Act. The Working Group reported to the Minister in spring 2016.