Section 67 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 inserts a new section 26A into the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 in relation to Continuing Care.
Continuing Care is defined in new section 26A(4) of the 1995 Act as meaning the same accommodation and other assistance as was being provided for the eligible person by the local authority, immediately before the person ceased to be looked after. These provisions entitle an eligible young person who is looked after in foster, kinship or residential care to remain in their current care placement, currently up to their twentieth birthday.
At initial implementation on 1 April 2015, eligibility for Continuing Care only applied to a single cohort of care leavers, aged sixteen, to facilitate sustainable service provision within existing resources.
So following through on our publicly stated policy intention to increase the higher age for Continuing Care on an annual basis to keep pace with the higher age of the initial eligible cohort, this is the fourth and final in the planned series of amendments to the Continuing Care (Scotland) Order 2015 to increase the higher age to twenty-one.
Following the introduction of the legislation, each proposed amendment to increase the higher age limit has been consulted on. Previous consultations can be viewed here:
2016 Amendment Order which raised the higher age to eighteen, http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/08/5064;
2017 Amendment Order which raised the higher age to nineteen, https://consult.gov.scot/children-and-families/amending-continuing-care-scotland-order/;
2018 Amendment Order which raised the higher age to twenty, https://consult.gov.scot/children-and-families/continuing-care-amendment/;
And 2019 Amendment Order proposing the higher age is raised to twenty-one, https://consult.gov.scot/children-and-families/continuing-care/.
The public consultation on this draft Amendment Order took place from 14 November to 12 December 2018. Engagement was encouraged by actively targeting all Scottish local authorities and stakeholders from the social care sector, as well as Corporate Parents listed in schedule 4 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, and following the same format of consultations in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
The public consultation received 26 responses from 4 individuals and 22 organisations, including the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), local authorities, third sector organisations, regulatory and professional bodies, and the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS). All the consultation responses have been made public where we have permission to do this. These are available here: https://consult.gov.scot/children-and-families/continuing-care/
Support for the Amendment and concerns highlighted
Of the responses received there was universal agreement that extending the upper age limit of eligibility to twenty-one is the expected and welcomed course of action. Respondents were given the opportunity to offer any other comments on the draft Order and on Continuing Care provisions more broadly. Where respondents have offered comment highlighting experiences and challenges leading to inconsistencies of the policy implementation we have summarised the key points raised and, where appropriate, given a response.
Looked After Children Unit