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5.7.2 Staying Put Policy

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This policy is consistent with, and takes account of, Staying Put - Arrangements for Care Leavers Aged 18 and Above to Stay on With Their Former Foster Carers - Government Guidance issued by the DfE, DWP and HMRC (2013).

RELATED GUIDANCE

Staying Put: Good Practice Guide

RELATED CHAPTER

Staying Put Procedure

AMENDMENT

In August 2016, Section 5, Financial Implications was updated with regards to a financial matrix being added.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Criteria for Continuing a Fostering Placement as a Staying Put Arrangement
  3. Planning
  4. Legal Status and Safeguarding
  5. Financial Implications
  6. Ending of Staying Put Arrangements


1. Introduction

A Staying Put arrangement is where a Former Relevant Child, after ceasing to be Looked After, remains in the former foster home where they were placed immediately before they ceased to be Looked After, beyond  the age of 18.

It is the duty of the local authority:

  • To monitor the Staying Put arrangement; and
  • To provide advice, assistance and support to the Former Relevant Child and the former foster parent with a view to maintaining the Staying Put arrangement (this must include financial support), until the child reaches the age of 21 (unless the Local Authority consider that the Staying Put arrangement is not consistent with the child’s welfare).

Under the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010, Planning Transition into Adulthood for Care Leavers Guidance and Government Staying Put Guidance (2013), the Local Authority must provide information about extending placements beyond the age of 18. 

The intention of Staying Put arrangements is to ensure that young people can remain with their former foster carers until they are prepared for adulthood, can experience a transition akin to their peers, avoid social exclusion and be more likely to avert a subsequent housing and tenancy breakdown.

(Note that the term ‘arrangement’ should be used rather than ‘placement’ - the term ‘placement’ denotes a situation where the local authority arranged and placed the child with a foster carer. Once the child reaches the age of eighteen and legal adulthood, the local authority is no longer making a placement, but facilitating a Staying Put arrangement for the young person.)

Consideration will need to be given to the impact on foster carers' approval and their terms of approval, including the numbers approved for, and whether this number includes the Staying Put young person.


2. Criteria for Continuing a Fostering Placement as a Staying Put Arrangement

From the age of eighteen young people are no longer legally ‘in care’ or ‘looked after’ and therefore fostering arrangements and legislation relating to children placed with foster carers no longer applies. In circumstances where a young person remains with their former foster carer/s after their eighteenth birthday, the arrangement should therefore be deemed as a Staying put placement.

Staying Put” is used to define a set of arrangements where-by foster care placements are extended on the grounds of 1) Education, 2) Vulnerability, 3) Planned move-on and 4) Disability after a young person reaches their eighteenth birthday.

All young people with have an active Pathway Plan and the Staying Put arrangement should be set out in the plan.


3. Planning

For a young person living in foster care, the first Looked After Review following his or her 16th birthday should consider whether a Staying Put arrangement could be an option. This will entail assessing the implications for both the young person and the foster carer.

When carrying out an assessment of an Eligible child’s needs, the local authority will determine whether it would be appropriate to provide advice, assistance and support to facilitate a Staying Put arrangement. Where they determine that it would be appropriate, and where the child and the Local Authority foster parent wish to make a Staying Put arrangement, then the Local Authority must provide such advice, assistance and support to facilitate a Staying Put arrangement.

The young person’s Pathway Plan (which will be continued in conjunction with a ‘living together agreement’ from age 18) should set out all of the practical arrangements regarding the young person remaining as a young adult in the Staying Put arrangement. Many of these will be an extension of the expectations on them when they were a foster child. This will cover arrangements such as:

  • Preparation for adulthood and independence tasks;
  • Finance, including young people having credit cards, loan agreements and mobile phone contracts registered at the address;
  • Income and benefit claims;
  • Friends and partners visiting and staying at the address;
  • Staying away for nights/weekends and informing carers of movements;
  • Education, training and employment activities;
  • Health arrangements;
  • Move-on arrangements;
  • Issues related to younger foster care children in the placement, i.e. safeguarding, being a positive role model and time-keeping.

Staying Put Timeline


4. Legal Status and Safeguarding

Following the young person's 18th birthday, the legal basis on which they occupy the property (former foster home) changes (the legal term is that the young person becomes an 'excluded licensee' lodging in the home) - this should not denote that the young person will be treated differently than they were as a fostered child. In addition, the carer may also become, and be deemed, the young person’s host.

The associated change from foster child to adult member of the household, and for the carer from foster carer to Staying Put carer, (technically the young person’s landlord) should be carefully and sensitively planned in order to ensure that both young people and the carer/s understand the nature of the arrangement and that the positive aspects of being in foster care are not diminished by the new legal and financial arrangements and terminology.

Where Foster Children are living in the Staying Put Arrangement

Where fostered children are living in the household, the checks and requirements associated with fostering legislation will apply and will provide a framework for safeguarding and checking arrangements for the whole household.

In these situations the carer must remain an approved foster carer and the Fostering Services (England) Regulations and Guidance will apply with the consequential requirements of supervision, review and safeguarding. Whilst the fostering legislation will primarily apply to the placements of the fostered children, it does ensure that a system of approval, checking and supervision is applied to the whole household.

Additionally, where foster children are in placement, the foster carers will need to be returned to the fostering panel due to a change in circumstances as the child/young person Staying Put will have reached adulthood and become an adult member of the fostering household.

Young people remaining in a foster care household at the age of eighteen will become adult members of the household and will require a valid Disclosure and Barring Service check in settings where a foster child or foster children are living. To ensure that the check (and possible subsequent risk assessment) is completed by the young person’s eighteenth birthday the process will need to commence in sufficient time.

Where No Foster Children are living in the Staying Put Arrangement

From the age of eighteen, young people are no longer legally ‘in care’ or ‘looked after’, and therefore fostering arrangements and legislation relating to children placed with foster carers no longer apply. Whilst legislation relating to fostering will no longer apply (if no foster child remains in the household), key standards should continue to govern the expectations of the Staying Put arrangement. This should include:

  • A system for considering if a person’s approval as a foster carer should be ended and for implementing the deregistration/termination process in circumstances where the foster carer is unlikely to be caring for any further foster children in the future;
  • A system for reviewing and approving the Staying Put arrangement and carer/s to ensure that the arrangement complies with Local Authority expectations;
  • Safeguarding and risk assessment checks on household members and in certain circumstances regular visitors;
  • Health and safety requirements (as a minimum this should comply with landlord and licensee/tenant requirements);
  • Regular supervision and support, possibly, from their fostering supervising social worker;
  • Opportunities to attend appropriate training.

Local authorities will need to assess individual circumstances and consider the appropriateness of all of these checks where the Staying Put young person is the only person living with their carer/s and it is not envisaged that further foster children will be placed.

In circumstances where it is clear that the carer will not be fostering any further children, it may be deemed appropriate to terminate their approval as a foster carer. In situations where it is possible that they may foster again in the future, it would be inappropriate to terminate their approval; given the length of time that re-approval would take. Where a foster carer’s approval is terminated, the local authority will need to ensure that the Staying Put arrangement continues to meet appropriate standards.


5. Financial Implications

It will be necessary to consider:

  • How extending placements will impact on the allowances provided by the Local Authority and whether other funding, e.g. funding for housing related support, will contribute to meeting Staying Put costs – central government;
  • Any financial contributions from the young person from their wages, salary, benefits or educational allowances. Depending on their circumstances, young people who remain in a Staying Put arrangement may be able to claim means tested benefits for their personal needs from their eighteenth birthday housing benefit also must be applied;
  • How the income tax, national insurance and welfare benefits situation of carers may be affected by post-18 payments;
  • Insurance issues including liability and household insurance. 

Please provide local information on financial arrangements. This should include:

5.1 Staying Put Allowances

All young people are expected to claim Housing Benefit from their 18th birthday(if they are eligible to claim).

Payments from the local authority to the provider will be paid dependant on the needs of the young person. There is a staying put finance matrix to guide Personal Advisors.

All fostering finance will finish on the young person’s 18th birthday.

5.2 Financial Contributions From Young People

This will be dependant on wether the young person is in Education, Employment or Training, Young people over the age of 18 are required to claim a personal benefit, or, replace the clothing, pocket money and personal allowance element by part-time earnings and also claim Housing Benefit.

5.3 Means Tested Benefits

Where:

  • A young person continues to reside with their former foster carer after their eighteenth birthday on a non-commercial and familial basis;
  • The child was Looked After immediately prior to their eighteenth birthday;
  • The payments are made by the local authority to the carer under section 23C of the Children Act 1989 (continuing functions in respect of former relevant children).

then the payments are disregarded in calculating the carers’ entitlement to means-tested benefits. 

When a commercial arrangement is made, (i.e. any element of the cost of the arrangement comes from a source other than section 23C), the non-section 23C element will be taken into account in the calculation of the carer’s own means-tested benefit claim.  

Additionally, the disregard is lost on the whole payment (section 23C and non-section 23C elements) when the young person first leaves the Staying Put arrangement, should the young person return to their former foster/Staying Put carer or move to another carer after their eighteenth birthday.

5.4 Housing Benefit/Universal Credit

There may be Housing Benefit implications as a result of Staying Put Arrangements. Housing Benefit is, however, being replaced by Universal Credit. Individual advice will therefore need to be obtained

5.5 Council Tax and Council Tax Benefit

The position regarding Council Tax will vary depending on the circumstances of the carers, the number of adults in the household and the activity that the young person is engaged in.

Young people undertaking full time education are ‘invisible’ for council tax purposes.

5.6 Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Income Tax and National Insurance

For HMRC purposes only, there is a broader definition of ‘Staying Put. A ‘Staying Put’ carer (for HMRC purposes only) does not need to be a registered foster carer or former foster carer. This means that  young people are able to return to a different Staying Put carer between the age of 18 and 21 (or until the completion of an education or training course) - for example during a university vacation. 

Where a Staying Put arrangement meets the HMRC qualifying criteria  (and where the young adult continues to be cared for as a member of the carer’s family) the Income Tax and National Insurance rules that apply to foster carers are extended to Staying Put carers. The young people are required to share the Staying Put carers’ home and daily family life during the placement’ i.e. live as a ‘member of the carer’s family’. This system provides for foster carers and/or Staying Put carers to earn up to a given amount without paying Income Tax or Class 4 National Insurance Contributions on their caring income.

The Income Tax free allowance consists of two elements. Firstly, a fixed amount per foster care or Staying Put household. Secondly, an additional amount per week per child. 

Where there is more than one paid Staying Put carer in the household, the allowance is shared equally by both carers.

The tax free allowance only applies to the Staying Put carer’s income from caring. If they have income from other sources, they will pay tax on that income in the normal manner.

Individual carers can consult their local HMRC office for guidance on their circumstances and liabilities.

For National Insurance Contributions purposes, in practice HMRC will treat the taxable profit from foster care or Staying Put care as earnings from self-employment. Foster care and Staying Put care is deemed as self-employment and as such carers should register as self-employed. All self-employed people aged 16 and over who are below State Pension age are liable and must register to pay Class 2 National Insurance Contributions.

5.7 Insurance (Including Liability and Household Insurance) 

Staying Put carers will be provided with information about liability insurance cover in situations where Staying Put young people may make an allegation against a foster child in placement, or against their Staying Put carer/s, or an allegation is made against the Staying Put young person. The majority of foster carers hold public liability insurance.

Financial Matrix


6. Ending of Staying Put Arrangements

The Staying Put arrangement extends until:

  • The young person leaves the Staying Put arrangement;

    or
  • The young person reaches their twenty-first birthday;

    or
  • The young person completes a programme of education or training (which may extend beyond their twenty-first birthday).

Procedures should be agreed at the outset about how any wish by the carer to bring the arrangement to an end should be managed. An excluded licensee can be asked to leave the property by the Staying Put carer, who must give ‘reasonable notice’. In extreme circumstances it may be considered reasonable for the carer to give very short notice and ask the young person to leave on the same day.

End