Moving Towards Independence


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Preparing for Independence
  3. The Pathway Plan
  4. When a Young Person Reaches 18 - Staying Put


1. Introduction

Developing skills for independence should start at a very early age and build towards the skills and abilities needed for young people to live independently. You will receive training and support to help you provide effective guidance.


2. Preparing for Independence

You should build into the routine a chance to practice skills such as cooking, cleaning and budgeting. This may start with an easy task such as cake making or preparing food and drink.

It is also useful to include young people in supermarket shopping where you can help them to understand (for example) the difference between the cost of convenience foods and fresh foods.

As the child gets older they should be given responsibility for paying for things from their pocket money or savings such as magazines, activities, toiletries or mobile phone credit. Also beginning to enable the young people to choose and purchase some items of their own clothing is important at this stage.

You should support all children to open a bank or building society account in their own name.

Listed below are areas to think about with young people when preparing them for independence:

  • Budgeting, managing money and savings;
  • What food to buy, how to menu plan, how to cook it and keep it;
  • How to use a washing machine and ironing;
  • Housework and cleaning;
  • DIY such as putting wardrobes up, putting plugs on and decorating;
  • Thinking about their futures; what do they want to do, employment, further training, and how can they achieve this?
  • What type of accommodation do they want to live in;
  • Accessing advice and support from others;
  • Leisure activities and other interests;
  • Using a range of public transport systems.

These are some of a range of things young people need to learn how to do and need to be thinking about. It is important that you support the young person to develop their self esteem and emotional resilience in order to ensure they have the skills to live independently.

It is tempting to do things for them but remember this will not help them in the long run when they are living on their own.

If you are caring for a child who is 15 years or older, there will be additional services to help you support and prepare them for independence (including having a Personal Adviser – in most cases this will be the young persons SW) Your Fostering Social Worker or the child’s social worker will talk to you about this.


3. The Pathway Plan

Every young person should have a needs assessment no later than 3 months after their 16th birthday that identifies their needs as they move towards independence. You will be asked to contribute to this and to help set tasks for the young person to achieve in order that they will have gained the skills that they will need in adulthood. These tasks and other elements will form a Pathway Plan that in time will replace their Care Plan.

This Pathway Plan will include the educational and employment arrangements support and accommodation plans including financial help.

This doesn’t mean that the young person has to leave your care as being looked after by you might be an important part of their independence especially if the young person (for example) has a disability or if they are planning on moving to University.

The Pathway Plan will cover some of the following key areas:

  • Present and future accommodation;
  • Health. Including advice on sexual health, drug and alcohol issues;
  • A plan for education, training or employment;
  • Support to develop and keep appropriate family, social and sexual relationships;
  • A programme to develop practical skills to live independently;
  • Budgeting and money management;
  • The young person’s accommodation needs including any adaption’s for a young person with a disability;
  • What is needed to provide the young person with support;
  • Appropriate timing of transfer to adult services if assessed as appropriate.

Training and support will be available from the fostering service on developing independence in young people including those with a disability or special need.

As a foster carer, you should be aware of the corporate parenting principles and in your role to support, as well as advocate on behalf of, your foster child.

In addition, Kent County Council publishes a ‘Local Offer’ for care leavers, advising them of the support and assistance that they can have up to the age of 25. For children in year 9 and above, it would be helpful to have familiarity with the opportunities and support available and be able to discuss these with the young person when appropriate. Be mindful also that the Local Offer will change and develop over time (see Kent County Council Local Offer).


4. When a Young Person Reaches 18 - Staying Put

The possibility of extending a young person’s placement when they are 18 may be available.

If you feel this is an option for you to keep the young person with you, the first Child in Care Review following their 16th birthday should consider a Staying Put placement. This will mean assessing the implications for both the young person and your family.

Following the young person’s 18th birthday, the legal basis on which they live in the foster home changes (the legal term is that the young person becomes an ‘excluded licensee’ lodging in the home) - this does not mean that the young person will be treated differently than when they were fostered. The supported accommodation provider (carer) will however be required to have a particular focus on further developing independent living skills with the young person as well as supporting the development of emotional resilience.

The accommodation officer with the 18 plus service will visit the foster carer and explain in more detail the requirements, expectations of providing supported accommodation from the time the young person is 18 years of age. Advice and support will also be given to the young person to ensure that they claim all state benefits they are entitled to, including Housing benefit.

The payments made for these placements plus the requirements on the young person to pay rent, utilities bills and if required the provision of food will be fully explained.

Once the young person reaches 18 years of age they will transfer to the 18plus service and will be allocated a Personal Advisor. The Personal Advisor will continue to provide ongoing support and advice to the young person until they reach 21 years of age or until the completion of a Higher Education course. Advice and support will also be available by the personal advisor to the supported accommodation provider (carer).

The supported accommodation provider (carer) will be given the opportunity to access all training opportunities provided for the Supported Accommodation providers as well as accessing support groups.

Placements can be maintained as supported lodgings until the young person reaches 21 years of age or until the end of a Higher education course.

Although Fostering Regulations do not apply to these situations there may be certain checks carried out over time. The Local Authority will need to assess and consider the appropriateness of these checks particularly where the young person is the only person living with you and it is not envisaged that further children will be placed.