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Staying Put Policy


Contents

  1. Legal Framework
  2. What is a Staying Put Arrangement?
  3. Guiding Principles
  4. Criteria for Staying Put Arrangements
  5. Preparation for a Staying Put Arrangement - Procedure
  6. Professional Roles
  7. Tax, National Insurance, Welfare Benefits and Financial Issues
  8. Independent Fostering Agency
  9. Benefits for Young People
  10. The Treatment of Benefits
  11. Income Tax and National Insurance Issues for "Staying Put" Arrangements
  12. National Insurance
  13. "Staying Put” Placement Guidance - Living Together Agreements
  14. Health and Safety
  15. Household Insurance
  16. Monitoring and Reviewing Arrangements
  17. Safeguarding Measures
  18. Ending the Staying Put Arrangement

    Appendix A: Living Together Agreement

    Appendix B: Staying Put Arrangements for Care Leavers aged 18 and above to stay on with their former foster carers DfE, DWP and HMRC Guidance

    Appendix C: Staying Put - Process Flowchart


1. Legal Framework

The guide builds upon the statutory guidance on staying put which is contained in the May 2014 revision of The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers and should be read in conjunction with that. It is also complemented by Staying Put: Arrangements for care leavers aged 18 and above to stay on with their former foster carers which is joint guidance produced by the Department for Education (DfE), Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). This provides more detail relating to many of the financial aspects of staying put arrangements.


2. What is a Staying Put Arrangement?

Staying put arrangements should replicate as far as possible normal family life. Foster carers are required to care for any child placed with them as if they were a member of their family, and this expectation should carry through into staying put arrangements. Families all have different rules, expectations and ways of doing things, and staying put arrangements should take account of this and be sufficiently flexible to be tailored to individual circumstances and needs.

Staying put is about care leavers continuing to live with their foster carers when they reach the age of 18.

An eligible child is someone who:

  • Is looked after by a local authority;
  • Is aged 16 or 17; and
  • Has been looked after for a total of at least 13 weeks since the age of 14.

It is a term meaning that they are eligible for support as a care leaver, and does not refer specifically to staying put support.

Once they become 18 an eligible child is known in law as a ‘former relevant child’. Whenever a young person continues to live with their former foster carer in these circumstances, it is referred to as a staying put arrangement. Staying put arrangements continue until the young person becomes 21, or stops living in the household before then.

Local authorities have duties to monitor and support staying put arrangements, and these are reflected throughout this policy.

Local authorities have significant statutory obligations to support care leavers whether or not they participate in staying put, and these are explained in the Children Act 1989 statutory guidance already referred to. A former relevant child who is pursuing further education or training may be entitled to support until the age of 25, but beyond their 21st birthday this cannot be defined as staying put.

It is important to understand that government departments have differing approaches to defining staying put within the statutory framework applicable to their area of responsibility. The definition given above comes from the Children Act 1989 and is the one which gives English local authorities a duty to monitor and support, as explained in this policy.


3. Guiding Principles

Staying put arrangements will be most effective in meeting these principles if they are underpinned by clear principles. This practice guidance is based on the principles listed below, but there may also be others which are important to local services.

Best interests

The best interests of the young person should be at the heart of decision making about staying put, enabling them to have the best possible opportunities to lead successful lives.

Support

Support to both carers and young people should be geared to their specific circumstances and needs. Carers should be enabled to develop the skills required to best help the young person to do well in life and keep safe from harm. No young person should lose out due to lack of financial support to themselves or their carer.

Clear information

Foster carers and young people should be provided with clear information about the support available from local authorities and fostering services to help them to make choices about whether or not to enter into staying put arrangements. This will always include information about financial arrangements and implications for benefits and tax.

Early planning

Early planning for staying put is crucial and arrangements should be considered as part of the care planning process, from the time that a long term foster placement is planned. Decisions in principle about whether or not staying put is an option should be taken as early as possible in the placement, and written into the young person’s pathway plan.

Equality of opportunity

In order to maximise the opportunity for young people to participate in staying put, fostering services – both local authorities and agencies - should do everything possible to ensure that all foster carers have equal opportunities to become staying put carers. This includes family and friends foster carers and foster carers approved by independent fostering providers. Entering into a staying put arrangement should be the norm, not the exception, and no young person should miss the opportunity to participate in staying put because the carer cannot afford to do so.

Flexibility

Arrangements should be sufficiently flexible to enable support to be provided over and above the minimum legal duty, recognising that the relationship between carer and young person will not always end at age 21 or when the staying put arrangement ceases.


4. Criteria for Staying Put Arrangements

There are no eligibility criteria for entering into a staying put arrangement, other than the young person being an ‘eligible child’ for care leaver support. If on the day before their 18th birthday the young person was a looked after child placed with a foster carer, and had been looked after for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14, then by continuing to live with their former foster carer this constitutes a staying put arrangement. This applies whether the foster placement was long term or short term, and includes placements made at any time up to the young person’s 18th birthday.

Local authorities have a general duty to do all they can to support care leavers into further and higher education, training or employment, but these are not preconditions for starting or maintaining a staying put arrangement. The legislation does not permit local authorities to introduce their own eligibility rules.

There is no reason to put foster carers through any sort of assessment or approval process to become staying put carers because the arrangements are made between adults and are not regulated.

Things to consider:

  • Is the young person an ‘eligible child’?
  • Do they and their foster carer wish to remain living together once the young person is 18?

Arrangements for disabled young people

A young person with a disability who meets the Fair Access to care criteria, will at the age of 18 convert (pending assessment) to an Adult Care Services placement, at which point case and financial responsibility transfers to Adult Services.


5. Preparation for a Staying Put Arrangement - Procedure

To ensure sufficient time is available to make the necessary planning arrangements for extending a placement beyond a young person’s 18th birthday, a professionals meeting should take place three months before a young persons 16th birthday or 3 months after a young person becomes Looked After if this is after they are 16. The “Staying Put” meeting and needs assessment should include the foster carer/s, the carer’s supervising social worker, allocated social worker and leaving care social worker/personal adviser and should establish the viability, appropriateness and likelihood of a “Staying Put” arrangement occurring. The meeting should identify all key tasks and roles and responsibilities related to extending the former fostering arrangement. The LAC Social Worker will complete the application and assessment for the PASP panel. The meeting should explore the impact on the foster carers’ financial circumstances should the placement continue after the young person’s 18th birthday.

The “Staying Put” professionals meeting should be repeated when the young person reaches the age of 17 and should ensure any final arrangements and requirements are in place by the young person’s 18th birthday. The outcome of this meeting should form the basis of the report presented to the Peterborough Access to Support Panel (PASP) (no later than 12 months prior to the young persons eighteenth birthday) who are responsible for quality assuring Staying Put arrangements.

All meetings should make reference to the criteria and financial framework for extending the “Staying Put” arrangement and the National Insurance, Income Tax and Welfare Benefits issues for the foster carer/s and Welfare Benefit issues for the young person. The outcome of these meetings should be discussed at the subsequent Looked After statutory reviews.

All requests for extending a placement post eighteen must be presented to the Peterborough Access to Support Panel (PASP).

Foster Carer

A meeting to discuss the option of Staying Put should be arranged with the foster carer when their foster child reaches their 16th birthday. At this meeting the process and the funding should be explained to the foster carer. The expectation is that young people can remain with the foster carer up to their 21st birthday and that the Foster Carer is preparing the young person fully for independence and that they are ensuring the young person is involved in employment, education or training or that they are undertaking voluntary work on a regular basis. This will be included in the Pathway Plan.

The carer should be fully informed of the implications of agreeing to a Staying Put arrangement and identify the differences between caring for a child and supporting an adult. Although there is an expectation of a seamless transition and the maintenance of existing rules and household/family norms carers should be encouraged to consider how they will react to impending adulthood and the young person’s expectation of greater independence. For example, a young person may enter into contracts in their own right which in the case of default, could affect a carer’s credit rating.

If the foster carer does not wish to sign up to the Staying Put arrangement then the Fostering Social Worker (SW) will inform the young person's SW or Personal Adviser (PA) or Transitions worker. A needs led assessment will be carried out and formulated into a plan which will be drawn up in order to prepare the young person to acquire their independent living skills and written in to the Pathway Plan. The move on options would be discussed and written in to the Pathway Plan.

Young Person

A meeting to discuss the option of Staying Put should be arranged with the young person when they reach their 16th Birthday by their SW or PA, or if supported by the disability team the transitions worker. At this meeting the changes, process and the funding should be explained to them. The expectation is that young people can remain with the foster carer up to their 21st birthday.

If the young person does wish to sign up to the Staying Put arrangement then the young person's Social Worker (SW), PA or Transitions Worker will inform the Foster Carer.

A needs led assessment will be carried out and formulated into a Pathway Plan which will be drawn up in order to prepare the young person to acquire their independent living skills.

If the young person does not wish to sign up to the Staying Put arrangement then their SW, PA or Transition worker will inform the foster carer's SW.

A needs led assessment will be carried out and formulated in to a plan which will be drawn up, in order to prepare the young person to acquire their independent living skills, and written in to the young person's Pathway Plan.

The preferred accommodation option will be submitted to PASP.


6. Professional Roles

All Staying Put arrangements will be supported by a personal advisor. In situations when the household continues to foster, a supervising social worker will remain allocated.

Fostering SW

The fostering Social Worker will support the foster carer/provider throughout the Staying Put process. Twelve months before the young person reaches their 18th birthday they will undertake a review of the foster carer and make any recommendations and present them to the Fostering Panel.

The Fostering SW will provide support through regular supervision and identify any additional training that may be required in order that the carer has the skills to support the young person.

Young Person's SW, PA or Transitions Worker

The Social Worker, Personal Advisor or Transitions Worker will support the young person throughout the Staying Put process. They will assist the young person in applying for benefits or any other bursaries for which the young person is entitled to claim.


7. Tax, National Insurance, Welfare Benefits and Financial Issues

Funding

The funding of the Staying Put Scheme is derived from a number of sources, Housing Benefit, the Young Person's Personal Contribution, and or Personalised Budget and the Local Authority Looked After budget.

Where applicable the young person will apply for the maximum Housing Benefit for which they are entitled.

Staying Put (and Supported Lodgings Plus)

Financial support is as follows:

Carers receive the equivalent of Level Three fostering allowance for the year 2014/15. This is £234.12. Carers receive this payment as follows:

  1. Direct contribution for the young person. This is set at = £30;
  2. Housing benefit contribution. This is set locally at = £91.00;
  3. Payment by PCC (Level Three fostering allowance minus the young person’s contribution and housing benefit contribution. Ordinarily this would be = £113.12).

    Total payment = £234.12.

Variables include:

The housing benefit contribution may vary for young people living outside Peterborough depending on assessment and postcode. The PA has a responsibility to notify the finance section as PCC will need to ensure HB and PCC contribution amounts to £204.12.

The young person’s contribution may be more than £30. Again, the PA has a responsibility to notify the finance section as this will affect the payment by PCC.

The Staying Put Payment is set at the level 3 foster carer payment (skills and maintenance element) which is currently £234.12. These payments will be reviewed annually and subject to the same increase in line with the same % increase as fostering payments.

The staying put payment covers all: accommodation, support, utilities, food and associated placement costs, it does not cover pocket money and clothing as this will be replaced by the young persons personal benefit allowance or earnings.

“Staying Put” carers will continue to receive the above payment for 56 weeks of the year this will cover one week for Christmas/Festival, one week for Birthday and two weeks for a holiday as the Foster Carers will continue to treat the young person as a member of the family, taking them out etc.

As set out above all young people are required to claim a personal benefit allowance or be earning money to be able to fund their clothing and pocket money needs.

All young people are required to claim housing benefit. In situations where young people are working part-time, and do not claim a means tested personal benefit they will still need to claim housing benefit. Earnings over £58.45 will result in a reduction of housing benefit which will need to be made up by a contribution by the young person as reflected on the revised license agreement (see Appendix A: Living Together Agreement - Staying Put (see Documents Library).

Housing Benefit will be paid directly to Staying Put Carers and deducted from the staying put allowance. (this element is taxable) Personal Advisers will help young people complete housing benefit applications and arrange for payments to be made to carers. This will be laid out in the Living Together Agreement.

If for any reason Housing Benefit or young person’s contribution is not available to carers they can speak to the appropriate PA who will in turn discuss the issues with the Commissioning Service. It is expected that the PA will ensure every effort is made to secure these benefits. Housing benefit, where applicable, is part of the funding arrangement.

Housing Benefit is now determined by Local Housing Allowance Rates based upon the area in which the applicant lives and may change each month. However, these rates are fixed in the month of application until the end of the financial year. Up to date Housing Benefit levels are published each month on the area LHA website: directgov.

An agreement has been reached with Peterborough City Council’s housing benefit department that the maximum allowable rate of £91.15 will be applied regardless of the specific address and payments will be made to the Staying Put provider, not the young person. Also, a designated housing benefit officer has been identified who will process claims using a modified claims form designed to assist the process. Arrangements will vary within other local authorities.

The young person's housing benefit application should be made by the young person with support from their Personal Adviser. To ensure that there is a smooth process the application will be made 13 weeks prior to the young person's 18th Birthday.

Carers receiving a staying put payment have a duty to inform the Local Authority of any changes in circumstances.

Supported Lodgings Placements

Supported Lodgings placements are ordinarily designed to support young people aged 16 and 17.

Financial support is as follows:

Carers receive the equivalent of Level One fostering allowance. For year 2014/15 this is £242.06. Carers receive this payment as follows:

  1. Direct contribution for the young person. This is set at £30;
  2. Payment by PCC (Level One fostering minus the young person’s contribution) 2014/15 = £212.06;

    Total payment = £242.06.

Ordinarily, following the young person’s 18th birthday alternative housing arrangements will evolve or the existing arrangement would become an informal one between the carer and young person.

In some situations and with the agreement by PASP, supported lodgings placements can continue post 18. This arrangement is called Supported Lodgings Plus (a post 18 supported lodgings placement). Supported Lodgings Plus will mirror the same financial support as Staying Put arrangements.

Supported Lodgings Plus

Financial support is as follows:

Carers receive the equivalent of Level Three fostering allowance for the year 2014/15. This is £234.12. Carers receive this payment as follows:

  1. Direct contribution for the young person. This is set at = £30;
  2. Housing benefit contribution. This is set locally at = £91.00;
  3. Payment by PCC (Level Three fostering allowance minus the young person’s contribution and housing benefit contribution. Ordinarily this would be = £113.12).

    Total payment = £234.12.

Variables include:

The housing benefit contribution may vary for young people living outside Peterborough depending on assessment and postcode. The PA has a responsibility to notify the finance section as PCC will need to ensure HB and PCC contribution amounts to £204.12.

The young person’s contribution may be more than £30. Again, the PA has a responsibility to notify the finance section as this will affect the payment by PCC.


8. Independent Fostering Agency

Young people placed in Independent Fostering Agency placements will be considered against the same criteria as Peterborough foster carer placements. The local authority will ensure that the process as detailed in Section 4 of this policy involves the IFA at all key stages.

The post 16 planning, professionals meetings and child care reviews will be the medium by which all IFAs will be involved in the Staying Put process. There will be occasions where the decision by the young person and their carer/s to enter into a Staying Put arrangement will not follow the processes in Section 4, for instance the young person may have come in to placement post 16, however at whatever point discussions occur, the IFA will be fully involved. The local authority expects that those representing the IFA at meetings/reviews have the authority to agree with the decisions made by the carer/s and the young person when considering Staying Put arrangements.

Once the resource panel has formally acknowledged the decision made by the young person and their carer/s to enter into a Staying Put arrangement post 18, the IFA will be notified and requested to ensure their carers formally notify the IFA of their change in circumstance.

It is expected that IFAs with whom the local authority commission placements will fully embrace the legislative and good practice guidance associated with the Staying Put initiative. The local authority Commissioning Unit can be contacted on: artduty@peterborough.gov.uk.


9. Benefits for Young People

Young people remaining in a “Staying Put” arrangement can claim a means tested benefits for their personal needs from their 18th birthday. These benefits replace the Pocket Money and Clothing Allowance previously contained in the foster carers maintenance allowance.

Personal Advisers will be responsible for assisting Care Leavers in understanding their benefits and will assist them using the Benefit Adviser tool on www.gov.uk. As every case is different and there are different entitlements, this tool is vital in understanding exact entitlement for that individual. Further benefits advice is available from Citizens Advice Bureau or: Benefit Adviser tool on www.gov.uk.

Disability Living Allowance. Financial assessment will be done by using the principles of the DoH Fairer Charging guidance which is set out in the PCC charging policy and is also used as the basis for charging for Shared Lives Placements. The key principle is that an individual’s weekly income is compared against a nationally set protected income figure (broadly Income Support + 25% + reasonable allowances for any disability related expenditure), with any surplus being the basis for the charge.

For further information: Benefit Adviser tool on www.gov.uk.


10. The Treatment of Benefits

Payments from Children’s Services to young people under section 17, section 20, section 23, section 24 and section 31 do not count as income for benefit purposes.


11. Income Tax and National Insurance Issues for "Staying Put" Arrangements

Tax

All foster carers and “Staying Put” carers must register with HMRC as self-employed.

The Simplified Tax Arrangements apply and Foster Carers and Adult Placement Carers will continue to be able to claim under their existing simplified tax arrangements. Full Tax details are provided in the HMRC help sheet 236.

Where young people remain living with their former foster carer/s under a “Staying Put” arrangement, the Income Tax and National Insurance framework and liabilities that apply are set out in the new “Shared Lives Carers” Guidance. The ‘Shared Lives’ - ‘Qualifying Care Relief Guidance’ sets out that “Staying Put” carers receive tax exemptions up to a given qualifying amount for each “Staying Put” young person living with them. The “Staying Put” qualifying rate mirrors the system and amounts that applied when the placement was previously a foster care placement.

The “Staying Put” exemption does not affect any income you may have from other sources, for example, from employment or from investments. Such other income will be taxed in the normal way.

“Staying Put” carer/s as well as foster carer/s should note that they may be able to claim Working Tax Credit which is administered by HMRC. Fostering/”Staying Put” care is counted as work for tax credit purposes. The carer’s taxable income is used to assess the amount of tax credits that they are entitled to. So, where the carer receives less in Staying Put payments than the tax free allowance is, their income from caring for Working Tax Credit purposes is treated as nil, which means they get the highest rate of WTC.


12. National Insurance

The same Class 4 National Insurance contributions apply as for fostering.


13. "Staying Put” Placement Guidance - Living Together Agreements

Young people, “Staying Put” carer/s, leaving care personal advisers and supervising social workers should meet to develop a ‘Living Together Agreement’ prior to a young person’s 18th birthday. The agreement should set out the expectation of all parties and clarify roles and responsibilities. The agreement should be incorporated into the young person’s pathway plan.


14. Health and Safety

The same health and safety checks that applied under the Foster Placement will continue.

The Car Insurance to include for business use and have a current MOT.


15. Household Insurance

The Staying Put providers will continue to be covered by the Peterborough City Council "All Risks Carer's Policy Internal Insurance Provision".

This insurance policy covers Foster Carers, Link Care, Respite Carers, Staying Put Providers and Supported Lodgings Providers for the actions of the young person.

The providers will continue to maintain their full household and liability insurance cover.


16. Monitoring and Reviewing Arrangements

The Staying Put Arrangements should be reviewed as part of the Pathway Plan, Review or Care Plan every six months. This should record any problems or difficulties that have emerged and what is working well in the arrangement.

A review can be arranged earlier if needed by agreement between the young person, the carers and the professional advisor involved.


17. Safeguarding Measures

The same safeguarding measures that apply under the foster placement will continue to apply to a Staying Put Arrangement.


18. Ending the Staying Put Arrangement

The Staying Put arrangement can be ended at any time before the young person reaches their 21st birthday, by either the young person or the carer by giving 28 days notice.

When planning to end a Staying Put arrangement it is worth remembering that as the young person reaches their 21st birthday they will no longer qualify as having a "priority need" for social housing. Therefore it is essential that plans are made in advance in order to maximise their opportunities to be considered for social housing.

If the young person wishes to remain with the carer post 21 then it will become a private arrangement and no longer funded by the Local Authority.

Where a young person is living away from home undertaking further or higher education, the Staying Put allowance will only be paid out of term time or during periods of residence within the Staying Put household.

There will be circumstances whereby a planned ending to a Staying Put placement doesn’t work and a return to the Staying Put Placement is in the young person’s best interest. Should this option be available, within a 4 week period a young person can return to their previous Staying Put household and the original payment arrangement will resume. In these circumstances the arrangement will continue to be considered as Staying Put.


Appendices

Appendix A: Living Together Agreement - Staying Put (see Documents Library).

Appendix B: Staying Put Arrangements for Care Leavers aged 18 and above to stay on with their former foster carers DfE, DWP and HMRC Guidance.

Appendix C: Staying Put - Process Flowchart.

End