Introduction: Aims and objectives of the guidance

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The following is an overview of what to expect in the guide and how to use it, which forms a part of our Staying Put Guidance.

The Children and Families Act 2014 (section 98) made amendments to the Children Act 1989 by inserting section 23CZA.  Although local authorities can provide ‘staying put’ type arrangements to any care leaver, a legal requirement was placed on local authorities to advise, assist and support both the young person and their former foster carers when they wish to stay living together after the ‘former relevant child’ reaches their 18th birthday. This is known as a ‘staying put arrangement’.

The Fostering Network campaigned with others to extend the age to which young people should be supported to remain living with their foster carers.  This led to the establishment of the legal duty to support staying put arrangements in England, which are now recognised as one option in the spectrum of 18-plus living arrangements for young people in transition to adulthood. Despite widespread acceptance that staying put is in children and young people’s best interests, there have been a number of issues with implementation that have caused concern for all involved and resulted in variability in policy, practice and participation at a local level.

This guidance is based upon the legislation, statutory guidance and standards that govern services for looked after children, care leavers, and fostering services in England.

The guidance has been informed by wider learning and from surveys conducted by The Fostering Network with young people, foster carers, local authorities and independent fostering providers in England. In addition the guidance is informed by discussions at the Staying Put Working Group, a national group convened by The Fostering Network made up of representatives from across the sector.

The guidance aims to provide a framework of best practice that will assist all parties in the implementation of staying put and seeks to guide local authorities and fostering services in developing an approach to staying put which makes it achievable for all those who choose it as their preferred means of support as they transition to adulthood. It addresses the key implementation issues which fostering providers, foster carers and young people have experienced since the introduction of the new duty in 2014 and provides good practice case studies. We are working with the Department for Education and other stakeholders to address issues which require policy or legislative change.

This guidance should be read in conjunction with the following statutory guidance:

  • The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (DfE, revised June 2015) - referred to here as ‘the care planning guidance’
  • The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers (DfE Revised January 2015) – referred to here as ‘the care leavers’ guidance’

and the following practice guidance:

  • Catch 22 NCAS – Young Peoples’ Benchmarking Forum Guide – Staying Put: What does it mean for you?
  • The Children’s Partnership (2014): Staying Put Good Practice Guide - referred to here as ‘the good practice guide’
  • ‘Staying Put’ Arrangements for Care Leavers aged 18 and above to stay on with their former foster carers: DfE, DWP and HMRC Guidance (2013, due to be revised) – referred to here as ‘the DfE/DWP/HMRC joint guidance.

Transitional arrangements for young people with disabilities

Transitional arrangements for young people with disabilities are not specifically addressed in this guidance but are covered in the SEND code of practice. Staying put is not intended to replace the process whereby disabled children transfer to the care of adult services, but ‘Shared Lives’ is one way in which local authorities can fulfil their duties to young people who qualify for adult services support.