Supporting young people leaving care in Scotland: regulations and guidance

Regulations and guidance on services for young people ceasing to be looked after by local authorities in Scotland.

Regulations and Guidance on Services for Young People Ceasing to be Looked After by Local Authorities


Seeking the views of the young person

3.1 Identifying the needs of the young people is central to the new duty on local authorities. It is therefore crucial that the young person is closely involved in the process from the start. It is also essential that the local authority remains in contact with the young person to offer the necessary support. Local authorities have been asked to collect annual information on young people who cease to be looked after. This information enables local authorities to look at the outcomes for young people and to consider whether the services being offered are the right ones to meet their needs. Local authorities will have to build lasting relationships with the young people and close involvement of the young person will reinforce this relationship from the start.

3.2 The regulations put the involvement of the young person as one of their central principles. Local authorities must seek and take account of the views and wishes of the young person in assessing their needs and in preparing the plan that comes out of the assessment: the "pathway views" (see Chapter 6 below). If there are meetings, the authority should take steps to make sure that the young person can attend and take part, for example by paying travel and subsistence costs or providing an interpreter. The authority should also be aware that the timing of meetings could impact on a young person's availability or willingness to attend. Meetings should therefore be arranged at a time and location that is suitable and accessible to the young person, bearing in mind the demands of education or employment.

Regulation 3
Regulation 3(1)(a)
Regulation 3(1)(b)

3.3 Young people are also put at the heart of the assessment process in the Pathways materials developed to aid local authorities in their new duties. The materials have been developed to be comprehensible and easy to use. If the young person has any particular needs because of impairment, the authority should make sure the materials are accessible to them. The Regulations make clear that young people should be involved as a matter of course unless it is not reasonably practical to do so. Such circumstances should be extremely rare and authorities will want to make every effort to ensure that this does not arise. However there may be occasions where the young person does not want to engage with the process at that time or has moved a considerable distance and lost touch. It should be borne in mind that although a young person may not wish to engage with the process in its entirety, they may be interested in some aspects that they feel would be useful to them at that time or they may wish to engage fully at a later date. Authorities should be prepared to be flexible and respond to the wishes of the young person.

Providing the young person with documents

3.4 The authority should also provide copies of all relevant documents to young people as soon as possible in a form they can understand. These will include a copy of the pathways folder and information on the complaints and appeals procedure. The pathways folder contains the assessment material prepared for local authorities to assist them in carrying out their assessment duties. It comprises of an initial agreement between the young person and the authority; a section to record the views of the young person (the pathway views); a section for the assessment of the young person's needs (the pathway assessment) and a section with the action plan to meet the young person's needs (the pathway plan).

Regulation 3(4)

Consent of the young person to sharing information

3.5. It is of vital importance that the consent of a young person to the sharing of any information about them is sought before and after any pathways work is undertaken. It should be made clear to the young person what they are giving consent to and why. They should also be made aware that they can refuse to give their permission or withdraw consent at any time. A section to record the young person's consent is included in the pathways folder.

Development of services

3.6 Young people should be encouraged to be involved in the development of services to ensure that they deliver what the young people want and need. Given the maturity of the young people, it will be important to work in partnership with them and encourage them to take the lead in aspects which will have such an impact on their future. Local authorities should also make sure that their young people have access to information detailing their rights and entitlements in their area.

Working with voluntary organisations

3.7 Many voluntary organisations have established programmes and good track records of working with disaffected and marginalised young people. Such services are often viewed as by young people positively, as not being stigmatising. Voluntary organisations can play a particularly important role in the development of drop-in services, independent advocacy services, counselling services and advice and information services. They also provide specialist services targeted at groups of young people such as single or young parents, and young people with disabilities. Authorities will want to ensure that details of local projects are well known and that there is an awareness of the role they can play in working with young people.

The young person's identity

3.8 The young person's religious persuasion, racial origin, and cultural and linguistic background will be important in maintaining a sense of personal identity and worth. Special consideration needs to be given to these matters in involving the young person in the planning of their throughcare and aftercare.

Additional needs

3.9 Some young people who are looked after will have additional support needs. These may be due to learning difficulties or physical disabilities. They may also have mental health difficulties, or difficulties with alcohol and substance misuse. These young people will have particular needs over and above the needs of other young people who are being looked after. These needs should be considered when preparing young people for the time when they cease to be looked after and in the subsequent provision of aftercare. Health care needs should be assessed by health care staff, and health services to meet the needs identified. Young people with disabilities who are entitled to an assessment under these Regulations should have their needs assessed in the usual manner. The pathway co-ordinator will need to liaise closely with any specialist services and community care workers. It may, in certain circumstances, be more appropriate for the resulting pathway plan to be taken forward by such workers. Whether this is the case will depend on the individual needs and views of the young person concerned.

3.10 Local authorities should have information on the resources and services necessary to meet the needs of young people with special needs. Liaison should take place between social work, education departments and health services. Voluntary organisations often provide specialist services; there should be good liaison and partnership agreements with them. The local authority needs to take any steps necessary to ensure that the views of these young people about their needs, and the ways in which they can be met, are taken into account. This may necessitate the use of skilled communicators and communication support, for example text telephones or interpreters for those with a hearing impairment.

Aims and outcomes

3.11 The aim of the throughcare and aftercare service is to enable the young person to make a successful transition to independent adult living. This means the young person must be empowered to make decisions and take control of their lives. To do this they must be at the heart of the assessment and planning process and fully involved in all aspects of their own throughcare and aftercare.



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