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W3C Compliance

7.6.6 Young People Aged 16 & 17 Years Ceasing to be Looked After

A young person who has been Accommodated under Section 20 (1989 Children Act) for more than 20 days requires the approval of the Director of Children’s Services. An assessment of the suitability of the proposed arrangements and the support services that are required needs to be undertaken, together with an understanding of the young person’s wishes and feelings. Also, ceasing to look after the young person will safeguard and promote their best interests. The Independent Reviewing Officer must also be informed.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

DfE, The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations – Volume 2: care planning, placement and case review (2015)

RELEVANT CHAPTER

Leaving Care Procedure

This chapter was included in the manual in May 2016.

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Planned Discharge from Care for 16/17 Year Olds
  3. Unplanned Discharge from Care for 16/17 Year Olds
  4. Eligible Child


1. Introduction

In line with The Care Planning and Fostering (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2015, where the child/young person is 16/17 years and has been Accommodated under Section 20, discharge from care should not take place until the decision has been approved by the Director of Children's Services.


2. Planned Discharge from Care for 16/17 Year Olds

Before deciding to cease to look after a young person (who has been in care for more than 20 working days) under S20 the Local Authority must:

  • Carry out an assessment of the suitability of the proposed arrangements for the young person's accommodation and care when the young person ceases to be looked after;
  • Carry out an assessment of the services and support that the young person and where applicable the parent or carer, might need when the responsible Authority ceases to look after the young person;
  • Ensure that the young person's wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration; and
  • Inform the IRO.

The Local Authority must include in the young person's Pathway Plan details of the advice, assistance and support that they intend to provide once the young person ceases to be looked after by them.

The assessment and Pathway Plan should be presented to the Edge of Care Panel prior to the young person returning home at which time the Director will approve the reunification plan.

A Looked After Child Review will be held 28 days prior to the planned date of leaving the care of the Local Authority. This meeting will agree the return home CIN/Pathway Plan (dependent on whether the young person was an Eligible child).


3. Unplanned Discharge from Care for 16/17 Year Olds

Where the request is for the young person to return home immediately, (under Section 20(8)) careful consideration should be given as to whether the request puts the child at risk of immediate Significant Harm. If this is the case, then the procedure for seeking an Emergency Protection Order (or, where appropriate, Police Protection) should be considered;

  • A Working Agreement with the parent or carer should be sought;
  • The Director’s view should be sought;
  • Where a review has been undertaken, the IRO’s opinion should be sought;
  • Other partner agencies, such as Schools, Education, Department and Health should be advised of the change of circumstances;
  • A discharge LAC Review Meeting should be arranged within 10 working days. This meeting will agree the return home CIN/Pathway Plan (dependent on whether the young person was an eligible child).

For young people where the placement end is unplanned; the young person will remain a looked after child under S20 until the case has been presented at the Edge of Care Panel (where the Nominated Officer will approve the reunification plan). If the young person chooses to leave a regulated placement and/or requests that they are discharged from S20 care, the Social Worker will update the Pathway Plan Assessment and seek to arrange a LAC Review within 28 days.


4. Eligible Child

In all cases where a 16 or 17 year old young person leaving care has been Looked After for a period, or periods, totalling 13 weeks which started after their 14th birthday then they should be considered as a relevant child.

As such they are entitled to the same level of support as every other Looked After Child, during this important part of their development and transition.

In relation to an eligible child, from their 16th birthday, the Local Authority must:

  • Carry out an assessment of needs with a view to determining what advice, assistance and support it would be appropriate to provide while looking after him and after it ceases to look after him;
  • Prepare a Pathway Plan and review it regularly;
  • Provide an allocated social worker.

End