This chapter forms part of our Staying Put Guidance.
Policies should cover staying put arrangements whether with local authority or independent fostering provider foster carers.
It is essential that local authority and independent fostering providers establish joint protocols in respect of staying put. The protocols should be flexible to ensure that they take account of the individual circumstances and needs, including clear reference to staying put as a post-18 option for a young person as part of their agreed care plan/pathway plan.
Recommendation for fostering services:
Joint protocols must be inclusive and explicit in respect of roles and responsibilities in the provision of practical support, including financial support.
The role of commissioners is crucial in the establishment of healthy working relationships; commissioners should be knowledgeable in the requirements of staying put arrangements and any commissioning policies must not exclude independent fostering providers.
Commissioning for staying put arrangements should be incorporated into the contractual requirement for independent fostering providers. Where an independent fostering provider has a continuing role in supporting carers who are providing a staying put arrangement, it is reasonable for a fee for this support to be agreed.
The protocols should be reasonable and fair and should include:
- agreement of payment of any relevant interagency fees in keeping with staying put policy and commissioning policy
- clarity on the roles and responsibilities of the local authority and the independent fostering provider
- agreement as to which agency will lead on the provision of advice, assistance and support to the former foster carer
- clarity that the lead agency will be responsible for the provision of learning and development opportunities to staying put carers, to support their continuing professional development
- agreement in respect of payments to be made to the former foster carer at a rate which reflects fees and allowances
- specific guidance in respect of the care planning/pathway planning process clarifying the role of the local authority and how independent fostering providers and foster carers can contribute
- agreement in respect of the responsibilities for the monitoring and review of staying put arrangements
agreement regarding the quality assurance of staying put arrangements and clear processes to be followed when a staying put arrangement does not meet basic standards.
Working together agreements
In addition, a working together agreement should be drawn up which includes where responsibility lies for:
- provision of advice and support to the carer and the young person
- learning and development opportunities for the carer and the young person
- provision of advice about finance and benefits to the carer and the young person
- monitoring the arrangement
ending the arrangement.
Recommendations for fostering services:
- We recommend that commissioning frameworks across England include reference to staying put arrangements and that children’s services commissioning teams are party to the development of approaches to staying put that apply equally to young people in local authority and independent fostering provider foster placements.
- We recommend that local authorities in partnership with independent fostering providers should establish contractual agreements which include staying put.