Summary of Key Issues Raised in 'Any Other Comments'
Among the overwhelming support for the principles of Continuing Care provisions, some respondents highlighted concerns about consistent understanding and implementation of the policy. Again it should be noted that these points do not affect the support for making this Order. Those challenges have been themed and summarised as follows:
Understanding of the policy
- Some variation in local practices and understanding of the policy at practitioner and managerial level, meaning young people are not receiving consistent information about their entitlements.
- More consistent information around Continuing Care needs to be supplied to both professionals and young people.
- The age of eligibility (1 April 1999), affecting whether some young people may benefit from Continuing Care, is not consistently being understood.
- The age that the duty to provide Continuing Care ends ( e.g. the young person's 21 st or 22 nd birthday) is not consistently being understood.
- Inflexibility of some local authorities in applying the legislation rather than honouring the principles of Staying Put guidance.
- Also despite best counsel, some young people are still opting for difficult to support and sustain community-based housing options.
- Lack of advice about what support there is for young people not entitled to Continuing Care.
- The importance of independent advocacy for young people with experience of care was also raised.
Funding and resourcing concerns including placement instability and out of authority placements
- Concerns that Scottish Government funding as set out in the Financial Memorandum was not enough to meet the full costs of implementation.
- Additional pressures on capacity and resources as a result of increasing numbers of young people eligible for and remaining in Continuing Care placements. This includes an increase in the use of purchased placements as local authority placements are occupied by young people remaining in placement.
- Concerns around how foster carers are supported.
- One respondent drew attention to inconsistent or unclear information from the Department for Work and Pensions around eligibility for benefits of young people in Continuing Care.
Evidence and data
- A small number of respondents highlighted that there has not yet been an official statistical return or other data around this relatively recent Continuing Care provision and the importance of having high quality data to inform wider understanding and effective implementation of the legislation.
The Scottish Government would like to thank all the organisations and individuals who replied to this consultation for participating and for providing constructive responses. We are pleased that the majority of respondents support the continued roll out of Continuing Care proposed by the Order and thank them for taking the time to offer comments over and above this on implementation of the policy.
As part of our ongoing work to support policy development, we remain keen to work with you to address the points raised and, in the meantime, we have offered some more general information that we hope that will offer helpful clarification.
Continuing Care policy aims and objectives
The aim of Continuing Care is to ensure that all eligible young people have the choice of staying in an existing care placement; maintaining supportive relationships with their carers. This reduces the risk of multiple simultaneous disruptions occurring in their lives, until they are able to demonstrate their readiness and willingness to move on to interdependent living. Interdependence more accurately reflects the day to day realities of an extended range of healthy interpersonal relationships, social support and networks.
Where a young person does not want to remain in an existing care placement, or where any of the exemptions to providing Continuing Care apply, local authorities should ensure that the young person is provided with advice and assistance with a view to preparing them for when they cease to be looked after. This should be based on plans which reflect their individual needs and aspirations, backed up by consistent, personalised support from their local authority and other corporate parents.
Supporting the implementation of Continuing Care
We appreciate the support of the sector and all practitioners in implementing this policy. We recognise the collaborative work, underpinned by GIRFEC principles, taking place locally and at national level to assist local authorities in transitions and outcomes planning for young people; particularly as they move towards adulthood. Much has also been done to support managers and practitioners in identifying challenges and solutions.
We would like to thank Who Cares? Scotland and the Children and Young People's Commissioner for Scotland for developing resources to inform young people and professionals alike on Parts 9 (Corporate Parenting), 10 (Aftercare) and 11 (Continuing Care) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. We would also like to thank the Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum, ( STAF) for their work in trialling resources with their membership. These resources can be found on the Children and Young People's Commissioner for Scotland website here: https://www.cypcs.org.uk/rights/your-rights-to-care.
The Scottish Government understands the importance of ensuring that looked after young people and practitioners across Scotland are able to access information in suitable formats to help them fully understand the legislation and enable the best possible delivery of Continuing Care.
In November 2016, the Scottish Government published guidance, which was developed in collaboration with managers, practitioners, carers and young people to help corporate parents, and anyone who supports looked after children and care leavers, understand the Continuing Care duties. We hope this provides a good basis for additional resources to be built on. This guidance is available here: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/11/4644.
The Scottish Government is taking steps to ensure that everyone whose work relates to the support of looked after young people and care leavers is informed of legislation on Continuing Care. We will achieve this through active promotion of published guidance developed by the sector, and materials developed by Who Cares? Scotland and the Children and Young People's Commissioner for Scotland.
In addition to the guidance mentioned above we also welcome the Care Inspectorate's 2017 publication ' Guidance for care services for looked after and accommodated children and young people who need ongoing support as young adults'. This is available here: http://www.careinspectorate.com/images/documents/4092/Guidance%20for%20services%20-%20looked%20after%20&%20accomm.%20children%20needing%20ongoing%20support%20as%20young%20adults.pdf and explains steps taken to ensure foster agencies incur no additional fees or inspections for providing Continuing Care.
Guidance on providing advice to care leavers about their benefit entitlements was developed by the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland in collaboration with STAF. This advice can be found on the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland's website: http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/care-leavers-and-benefits-giving-good-advice. UK Benefit Regulations have also been amended by the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (Consequential Modifications) Order 2016 which takes account of the particular status of young people in Continuing Care placements and their entitlements to benefits: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2016/732/contents/made.
Monitoring of Continuing Care data
We understand the importance of gathering high-quality data in monitoring the effectiveness of Continuing Care policy. The Scottish Government's annual National Statistics publication 'Children's Social Work Statistics Scotland  ' will, depending on data quality, publish data on Continuing Care from 2019. We also continue to work regularly with local authorities and with our stakeholders in the care sector to collate information around uptake and eligibility for Continuing Care. We will monitor this information and any other evidence offered to clarify numbers in the years following implementation.
The funding commitment for Continuing Care has been set out by the Scottish Government in the Financial Memorandum that accompanied the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill; this funding commitment remains unchanged. This included the net total costs each year from 2016-17 to 19-20. These are lower in the first year of implementation at £4.2 million, rising to 9.3 million by 2019-20 at which point they are expected to stabilise along with the additional numbers estimated at 164 young persons in Continuing Care between the ages of sixteen to twenty-one.
For more details, please see the Financial Memorandum to the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill, as amended at Stage 2, 31 January 2014, Table 13: net annual costs of staying in care for all cohorts (£) http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_Bills/Children%20and%20Young%20People%20(Scotland)%20Bill/b27as4-stage2-fm.pdf.
For all young people who choose Continuing Care, there is an expected saving arising in the form of the foregone Aftercare service costs. Funding allocations to local authorities for the changes to throughcare and aftercare requirements in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and separate allocations to cover the change to 'the age at leaving care' eligibility criteria for Aftercare support from 'beyond school minimum leaving age' to 'age 16' were set out in the Financial Memorandum. Further information on the calculations and allocation of funding for Aftercare 2015/16 and 2016/17 is available here: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/People/Young-People/protecting/lac/careleavers/AftercareFunding.