These principles of good practice form part of our Staying Put Guidance.
There are a number of guiding principles which should underpin approaches to staying put to ensure positive outcomes. These are based on, and further develop, principles set out in the good practice guide:
- Family life – allowing the young person to transition to adulthood from the security and stability of an existent/established family base.
- Best interests – the young person is at the centre of decision making about staying put.
- Support – the arrangement provides continuity of support geared to the needs of both parties.
- Clear information – about support and options available, in accessible formats, enabling young people and foster carers to make choices and informed decisions.
- Early planning – as part of planning for permanence, staying put must be considered within the care planning (and pathway planning) process for all children with a care plan of long term foster care. Care planning must be robust and records should be clear. Diagram 2 summarises the planning process. [INSERT LINK]
- Equality of opportunity – fostering services should ensure that all foster carers have equal opportunities to become staying put carers.
- Flexibility – policies and procedures need to be flexible and robust, to accommodate the specific needs of the individual young person and the former foster carer.
- Preparation – long-term foster carers should receive training to prepare them for being a staying put carer, from the pre-approval stage and throughout their fostering career.
- Opportunity - to enable young people to contribute and achieve in education, employment, and training.
Clear roles - all stakeholders must be clear as to their roles and responsibilities in supporting staying put, including links to other agencies such as education and health services.
The Keep on Caring cross-Government strategy details the new legal duty on local authorities to ‘consult on, and then publish a local offer for care leavers’. Young people need to know and be reassured that they will be supported and cared for beyond the age of 18. They should be aware of the support and care arrangements available to them and what they can expect from those who have been responsible for their care: that is the local authority, their foster carers and the independent fostering provider.
‘The end of services should be based on needs and not age.' (Young person, Care Inquiry session 2a)
It is essential that fostering services – both local authority and independent fostering providers – ensure that foster carers understand that this could extend to becoming a staying put carer supporting young people up to the age of 21 as they transition from being in care to adulthood and independence.
Recommendations for fostering services and local authorities:
- We recommend that all fostering services incorporate staying put arrangements in their foster care agreement, statement of purpose document and guides for children and young people.
- Children’s social workers and independent reviewing officers should proactively promote staying put as part of the continuum of care and this should be reflected in care planning and decision making where it is the care plan for the young person.