Summary of Responses and Result
Question 1: Do you agree with the intention of this draft order to further increase the higher age limit for persons eligible for Continuing Care from twenty to twenty-one years of age, with effect from 1 April 2019?
- All 26 responses fully supported the extension of the higher age limit for eligibility for Continuing Care from twenty to twenty-one years of age from 1 April 2019.
- Most local authorities highlighted that this was the expected and welcomed course of action and some indicated that the outcomes sought from Continuing Care, through providing stability and continuity for young people remaining in their care setting after compulsory measures are removed, are already a priority for them.
- One individual commented that the age should be increased to twenty-five. Whilst we have no intention at this stage to move the eligibility age beyond twenty-one, we would highlight that local authorities continue to have duties to provide care leavers with Aftercare advice, guidance and assistance up to age twenty-six. Discretionary powers also allow local authorities to provide a Continuing Care placement beyond age twenty-one should this be manageable and in the best interests of the young person.
- The majority of respondents’ comments reflected their understanding and support for the principles of Continuing Care within the wider context of the Staying Put agenda and broader intentions of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, in providing young people leaving care with the support they need to secure a positive and sustained transition into adulthood, as well as with a feeling of connectedness and belonging. There was almost unanimous agreement that providing looked after young people with the opportunity to make a graduated transition out of care was crucial in achieving positive outcomes in the longer term.
- Included below is a small sample selection of quotes from respondents which indicate support for the Order:
“COSLA continues to support the delivery of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and therefore supports the principles of increasing the higher age limit from twenty to twenty-one for persons eligible for continuing care” COSLA
“In full agreement with the increase in the age limit” Fife Council
“I agree. In practice this is what is happening in Scottish Borders Council.” Scottish Borders Council
“This a progressive draft where the rights of the young person to remain are secured at a more significant level and in some ways offering a level of compassion to the wider community (and their peers) to have worthwhile additional security” Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership
“Yes. Perth and Kinross Council has embraced the philosophy set out in Staying Put Scotland Guidance 2013 and already has a positive track record of supporting young people to remain in their care placements beyond their 16th birthday.” “We have made appropriate arrangements to ensure that the cohort of young people affected by the proposed amendment are aware of their right to choose to remain in a continuing care placement and the necessary support to do so.” Perth and Kinross Council
“Yes, Social Work Scotland agree with the intention to increase the higher age limit to 21 years, being in support of the policy intention to encourage and enable young people to remain in safe, supported environments, sustaining significant relationships until they are ready to make the transition to independent living.” Social Work Scotland
“Who Cares? Scotland agrees with the intention to increase the higher age limit for eligibility from 20 to 21 years of age from April 2019. This intention was clearly communicated by Scottish government, and widely supported by others, throughout the consultation phase of Part 11 (continuing care) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.” Who Cares? Scotland
“Staf is fully supportive of the policy intention of this Order” Staf (Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum)
“Kibble support the step-change to increase the higher age limit to twenty-one years from 1 April 2019.” Kibble Education and Care Centre
- As a result of consultation feedback, no adjustments have been requested or made to the draft Order.
- Most respondents took the opportunity to provide additional comments and highlighted challenges related to full and consistent implementation of the duties. These complexities are acknowledged, but do not have any impact on the drafting of the Order or respondents’ support of increasing the higher age limit for eligibility to twenty-one years of age. Points relating to policy implementation are summarised in the next section of this report alongside Scottish Government response.
- This will be the final planned increase, which will ensure that the current cohort of young people (born on or after 1 April 1999) continue to be eligible as they increase in age to twenty-one and so that the duty to provide Continuing Care is extended in full to all eligible persons from sixteen to twenty-one years of age. This is in line with the policy intention stated during development of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
- The draft Order will be laid in the Scottish Parliament by 25 January 2019, and accessible on the UK legislation website here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi
- Subject to scrutiny and approval by the Scottish Parliament, this Order will ensure that the legislation is amended to enable young people who turn sixteen, but have not yet reached the age of twenty-one whilst in residential, foster or kinship care, to remain in their current care setting (‘Continuing Care’) after they cease to be formally looked after by the local authority.
- Subject to Parliament’s approval, this Order will come into force on 1 April 2019.
- In the event that the draft Order is not approved by the Scottish Parliament, the immediate effect would be that the upper age would remain at age twenty. This would mean that after 1 April 2019, young people on turning age twenty would cease to have a statutory entitlement to Continuing Care until such time as an Order to increase the upper age to twenty-one could be agreed by parliament.
Looked After Children Unit