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Hampshire County Council - local offer for care leavers

All care leavers in Hampshire in January 2018 were given an opportunity to tell Hampshire what they need in terms of services to help them transition into adulthood and independent living. Their feedback has shaped this local offer and we would like to thank them all for their participation in providing their views.

We will continue to listen to your views to make sure the services we offer meet your needs, rather than our views of what you need.

What is the local offer to care leavers?

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 ensures that all local authorities establish a Corporate Parenting Board, and publish a ‘local offer for care leavers’, setting out the services on offer from both the local authority and other agencies. The local authority must publish information about:

  • services which the local authority offers for care leavers as a result of its functions under the Children Act 1989; and,
  • other services which the local authority offers that may assist care leavers in, or in preparing for, adulthood and independent living and,
  • where considered appropriate, information about services offered by others which the local authority has power to offer as a result of its functions under the Children Act 1989/ 2004.

There are seven corporate parenting principles for local authorities to follow to ensure that they are the best corporate parents to the children in care and care leavers they support, and to ensure that you remain the focus [Children and Social Work Act 2017, s1 (1)]:

  • to act in the best interests, and promote the physical and mental health and well-being, of those children and young people;
  • to encourage those children and young people to express their views, wishes and feelings;
  • to take into account the views, wishes and feelings of those children and young people;
  • to help those children and young people gain access to, and make the best use of, services provided by the local authority and its relevant partners;
  • to promote high aspirations, and seek to secure best outcomes, for those children and young people;
  • for those children and young people to be safe, and for stability in their home lives, relationships and education or work; and,
  • to prepare those children and young people for adulthood and independent living.

The local offer for care leavers should relate to six areas, as well as ensuring that the seven corporate parenting principles apply. These are:

  • health and wellbeing;
  • relationships;
  • education and training;
  • employment;
  • accommodation; and,
  • participation in society.

The local offer must be updated ‘from time to time, as appropriate’ but only after consultation with relevant persons, including care leavers. It must reflect what you tell us you need, and not what we think you need.

As your corporate parent, it is our responsibility to make sure you know what services are available to you, and what you can expect to receive when you are a care leaver. For former relevant care leavers, you are now able to request support and advice between the ages of 21-24 and a PA will be allocated to you either until you reach your 25th birthday, or until you decide you no longer want this support. You are a former relevant care leaver if you are aged 18-25 and were in care for a total of at least 13 weeks from the age of 14.

If you ask for support and advice at any time once you are aged 21-24, your PA will carry out an assessment of needs, and work with you to create a pathway plan which is to be proportionate to your needs taking into account the issues identified by you and what you are requesting support with; a full pathway plan may not be necessary, but all plans will state how the PA and you plan to keep in touch.

Local authorities have a legal duty to support you in making the transition from care into adulthood and independent living. You are a care leaver if you are aged 16-25 and were in care for at least 13 weeks in total between the ages of 14 and 16 (including your 16th birthday). This includes young people who were in care immediately prior to being detained in a Youth Offending Institution, or hospital, when you turned 16. You are known as a care leaver when you leave care, however the care leavers service will start working with you from the age of 16, even if you remain in care.

This local offer for care leavers aims to clearly set out in one document what our offer is to you, in terms of entitlements and services available. In addition, we will contact you once every 12 months until your 25th birthday to remind you that you can access the care leavers service by asking for support and a PA will be allocated to you.

We are proud to be you corporate parent and hope that we can support you making the transition from care into adulthood and independent living.

What does Hampshire’s care leavers’ service do?

When you are in care, we act as a ‘good parent’ to ensure your needs are met and that you can progress and achieve. Even when you leave care, this role does not end- we continue to be your corporate parent. Being a good corporate parent means that we want to keep you safe, support and advise you as you make the transition into adulthood and independent living. This can be a difficult time for you, especially if you have spent a long time in care, as it may mean leaving behind everything you are familiar with. We also know from speaking to our care leavers that it can be a lonely and isolating time. 

There are lots of things the care leaver service do. This includes having a Corporate Parenting Board which is a group of people within Hampshire County Council who ensure that your voice is heard, and they promote the seven corporate principles. 

As a care leaver, you are provided with a Personal Advisor (PA) who can support and advise you in accessing housing, education, employment, training, health services, finances and can provide a shoulder to lean on, if and when needed. Your relationship with your PA will play a vital role in supporting you. The care leaver service is here for you and we want you to succeed and be the best you can be- we want to watch you grow and transition into adulthood and independent living, with as much support as you need to do so. We will be by your side every step of the way, and will be there to pick you up if you fall down, or to celebrate with you when you reach your goals. 

The care leaver service is currently divided into four teams and these teams contain a Team Manager, Personal Advisors and admin. You will be allocated to the team closest to where you lived prior to entering care. You can, however, choose to move out of area, but the team and Personal Advisor will continue to support you wherever you are, and can even support you in finding accommodation in your chosen area. We will continue to support you until you reach your 21st birthday, or your 25th birthday if you are in full-time education. In addition, if you are a former relevant care leaver and ask for support between the ages of 21-25, you will be allocated a PA to support and advise you until you reach your 25th birthday, or until you ask for this support to end.

What does a Personal Advisor (PA) do?

When you enter care, you are allocated a social worker. Once you turn 16, you will be introduced to a Personal Advisor, or PA, who will work alongside you and your social worker until you reach the age of 18, at which stage the PA will become your key worker and you will no longer have an allocated social worker. As a young adult, you are able to make your own decisions and choices, however your PA is there to support and advise you in making the best decisions for you as you make the transition into adulthood and independent living. 

As a care leaver, you are entitled to: an assessment of your needs (at 16 and 21); a pathway plan; a Personal Advisor; accommodation; and, maintenance. It is the PA’s role to support and advise you and to ensure that you are aware of what you are entitled to. 

Your PA will continue working with you at least until you turn 21, or up to the age of 25 if you are in full-time education, or if you are a former relevant care leaver who has requested support and advice. From the age of 21 until your 25th birthday, the PA must see you a minimum of once a year, however there may be times when you wish for advice and support, or have greater need, and therefore the frequency will depend on the assessment of your needs and what the Pathway Plan states in relation to visiting and keeping in touch. Never hesitate to contact your PA if you need more support, or need to see them. 

For care leavers aged 18 until their 21st birthday, the PA has a duty to see you every 2 months and to also see where you are living to ensure that you are OK and managing with independent living.  They will also keep in touch with you, as agreed by you, in-between visits. The PA needs to record and monitor your progress, and will offer you support and advice every step of the way.

What is an assessment of needs, and a pathway plan?

Every young person between the ages of 16-21 in care or a care leaver has a pathway plan. The law states that you will have an assessment of needs when you are 16, and again when you are 21, to find out what you need support with. Your pathway plan is to ensure these needs are met and it is written by the PA in consultation with you and important people/services in your life. It sets out your needs, views and future goals, and what support you will receive from us.                                                

In Hampshire, our Pathway Plan is also the assessment of needs, so every time your Pathway Plan is reviewed (at least 6 monthly), a new assessment of needs is undertaken to help create the plan.  Between the age of 16 and 20, your Pathway Plan will consider your education, employment, health, finances, social needs, relationships and accommodation. If you request advice and support post 21, up until your 25th birthday, the assessment of needs and Pathway Plan will concentrate on the areas you feel you need support with. 

The Personal Advisor is responsible for ensuring you have a relevant, up-to-date Pathway Plan which considers your current needs and what needs to happen to aid your transition into adulthood and independent living. The Pathway Plan must state how you wish to stay in touch with the PA in-between visits, and the frequency of this. The Pathway Plan needs to be clear on its goals and how these will be achieved, by whom, and by when- these will then be reviewed at least every 6 months. A Pathway plan should be created with you present to look at where you are currently at, and where you wish to get to, to create a plan specific to you. The Pathway Plan must also be reviewed if there is a significant event or change for you. If you move home, for instance, you must be visited within 8 days and a Pathway Plan review held within 28 days of this move. 

The Pathway Plan will include your views and should be shaped around these - after all, it is your plan.

Important Documents for me

You will need documents to prove who you are and to access educational courses, employment, social benefits or to open a bank account. We will support you to ensure that you have the important documents you need, such as a passport and birth certificate, however you will be responsible for ensuring you look after these and keep them safe- we will not repurchase documents if you lose them. If you agree, we will keep copies of your important documents safely on your record.

Whilst we will fund your first passport and birth certificate, you are responsible for ensuring you keep this safe, and for funding any subsequent documents, or replacements.

National insurance (N.I) number

At 15 years and 9 months, your social worker should apply for your national insurance number (N.I Number). Your PA will ensure that you have this. You need this number, if you wish to work, so you must keep it safe. If you lose it, the PA can support and advise you on how to obtain another one, but you will have to pay any costs towards receiving a replacement. More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/national-insurance/your-national-insurance-number

Passport

Your PA will support you with an application for a passport, and we will cover the cost of applying for and purchasing your first passport. Your passport is your main source of I.D. and can be used to open a bank account, or travel. If you lose this, you will have to fund a new one and they are not cheap, so please keep it in a safe place. You can find out more information and apply at https://www.gov.uk/apply-renew-passport.

Provisional driving licence This provides you with photo I.D., as does a passport. If you intend to learn to drive, you will need a license. To show your commitment towards learning to drive, we expect you to fund half the cost of the license, and we will match this. Again, if you do not keep your license safe and require another one, you will have to fund this yourself. Please also remember that if you move address, you must update the DVLA. You can find more information and apply at https://www.gov.uk/renew-driving-licence.
Birth certificate If you do not have a birth certificate, the PA can support you apply to apply for yours. This can be used, alongside photo I.D., to open a bank account. You may also need it if you intend to get married. It proves your identity and is therefore extremely important. We will pay for you to apply for this. More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/order-copy-birth-death-marriage-certificate .
British citizenship If you are entitled to apply for British Citizenship, the PA will support you to do this. More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/becoming-a-british-citizen .
Biometric residence permit [often called a biometric card]

If you are an unaccompanied asylum seeker, you will not be able to apply for a passport, but can apply for a biometric residence permit which will provide you with a source of I.D. We will pay for you to apply for this. More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits .

 

Access to Your records

Once you turn 18, you have a right to see the information we hold about you, including the records written about you when you were in care. If you would like to see your file, please speak to your PA. More information can be found at https://www.hants.gov.uk/aboutthecouncil/strategiesplansandpolicies/dataprotection/subjectaccessrequest.  Any request to access records is processed by the Children's Services Subject Access Request Team (SAR).  Your PA can advise and support you to complete the Subject Access Request Form.

Your Records will explain more about the process, but you will need to provide supporting  evidence of your identity and a £10 fee, to be sent to Children's Services Subject Access Request Team, Floor 2, Elizabeth II Court North, Winchester, SO23 8UQ.

My health and wellbeing, including my safety

As your corporate parent, we want you to be healthy and stay safe. To help you do this, your PA can advise and support you with:

  • information on healthy living
  • information on getting help to pay for prescriptions
  • registering with a GP
  • transitioning from CAMHS to adult services
  • accessing other mental health support in your area, if you are not eligible for a service from adult services
  • information about counselling services that are available locally
  • information about health drop-in centres; sexual health clinics, or other testing/ screening facilities 

Remember that you can speak to your PA about how you are feeling or anything you need help with. They are there for you and want to support you. 

My safety

Your safety is our responsibility, as your corporate parent. We want you to be safe and to ensure you have somewhere suitable to live. If things go wrong, we will work with you to address the problem and help you be safe. If you go missing and we have concerns for your wellbeing, we will report you as missing to the police. If we believe that you are being exploited, or ‘used’ by others, we will carry out a Sexual Exploitation Risk Assessment (SERAF). We may hold a High Risk Strategy Meeting, inviting all involved professionals to help make a plan to support you to stay safe. As an adult, you will be able to make choices, however not all choices are safe- your PA can advise you on your options and help you make informed decisions, even if they are not ones we agree with. 

We report you missing, and carry out risk assessments and hold meetings to ensure your safety and wellbeing. We do this because we care.

Please speak to your PA about other support services you can contact or access in relation to your health, safety and wellbeing.

My relationships

If you have entered care, it is likely that you have experienced some level of loss during your early childhood, and possibly trauma and/or abuse. It may be that you are only starting to come to terms with this as you enter adulthood, or that you realise this still affects you today. In addition to this, your own experiences may well impact on your adult relationships, both with professionals, friends, and intimate partners. You may fear if you are about to become a parent that your child will have similar experiences and be taken into care, and this can be a very scary time for you. You make also want to ‘get it right’ to make sure your history is not repeated in your own relationships. This may place you under and immense amount of pressure, as you begin taking responsibility for your actions as an adult. 

Hampshire can offer you a safe, trustworthy PA to talk to. The PA will support and advise you as you transition into adulthood. If other needs are identified, your PA will support you to access appropriate support. 

If you are a young parent and you wish to access support with parenting, you can speak to your health visitor (if your child is under 5 years old). If you have more than one need, you can ask your health visitor, or other involved professional, to complete an Early Help Assessment which can be discussed at a multi-agency meeting to offer you and your family multi-agency support. You are able to access parenting courses and other support through the Early Help Hub, and it may benefit you socially too. Anyone, not just care leavers, accesses these services, so you are not alone in needing support with parenting.

My education and training

We wish to support you with your education, and the law says we must provide you with assistance for expenses linked with employment, education and training. As a child in care, you will have had a Personal Education Plan (PEP) within your school to ensure your educational needs were identified and support was offered to meet these. In Hampshire, we also offer a PEP at Key stage 5.

Hampshire has a Virtual School which works with you up until you are 16, and a Virtual College which works with young people up until they are 18. 

The Virtual School:

  • Ensures schools receive appropriate training, guidance and support to be able to identify and meet individual needs
  • Ensures everyone works together effectively so that each young person  receives a high quality education
  • Is responsible for the arrangements in place to allocate pupil premium to schools
  • Tracks and monitors each young person’s progress towards achieving their potential  as described on their Personal Education Plan
  • Monitors and tracks the attendance, progress and attainment  of CiC and puts in place support or targeted and personalised interventions where needed
  • Shares effective practice with colleagues, for example  to improve behaviour and attendance,  reduce exclusions, promote improved outcomes and school stability, and identify and address barriers to learning. 

The Virtual College

  • Extends the Virtual School’s approach by providing personalised support and guidance  to young people as they  transition to education, employment and training at age 16. Ensures each young person receives consistent, high quality support (including individualised careers guidance and personal development) to achieve their goals
  • Works with others to increase the number of CIC and care leavers who progress to sustainable post 16 destinations, including  traineeships, apprenticeships and university 

Apprenticeships and training schemes are popular options and can be a good way for young people to gain work experience and practical work skills whilst earning money.

If you remain in education, we can help support you with the travel costs to get to college, and advise and support you in purchasing tools, equipment, essential clothing, and books for your course. We can access the HOIRST fund for educational equipment which would benefit your studies, such as a lap top. Please speak to your PA about what support they can offer. 

Bursaries for Education

For higher education (HE), there is a £2,000 bursary which the care leavers service will fund, and for full-time Further Education, the college will provide a £1,200 bursary. For more information, please speak with your PA. 

University

If you wish to pursue a course at university, we can support and advise you on how to obtain tuition fees and maintenance loans. We can offer support with travel costs at the start and end of term, and make sure you have somewhere to live during the holidays. We can also support and advise you on what might be the right course for you given your talents and interests. Your PA can support you in applying, and also advise you if there are any bursaries, or discretionary funds which can be accessed through the university to aid you in your studies. In addition, all universities have student unions which will support you with any questions you may have and ensure you are accessing the support that is available for you.

My employment, including my money

The Virtual College staff will support you to actively engage in Education, Employment & Training (EET).

The Job Centre Plus will support you to look and apply for work if you are not in education or employment. 

Apprenticeships

If you get an apprenticeship or traineeship, we will ensure you are able to get there through funding your travel. 

Finding Work/ Interview Allowance

We can support and advise you on seeking monies towards job interview clothes from the Job Centre Plus, creating your own cv and writing a personal statement. 

My money

It is expected that once you turn 18 you will immediately claim Universal credit/ benefits. Up until that point, you would have received a weekly personal allowance from Hampshire County Council, a bit like pocket money. However, once you turn 18, you are officially an adult and therefore are entitled to social benefits to meet you day-to-day expenses. Because we know that it does not always run smoothly claiming benefits, we can provide the equivalent of the lower rate weekly allowance you will receive from claiming benefits, which is currently £34.74, or the higher rate of £57.90 if you are living independently, for a maximum of four weeks- we expect you to pay this back, once you receive your benefits. After four weeks, you are expected to access advanced payments through the social benefits system if you are still waiting for social benefits to be paid.

If you are an unaccompanied asylum seeking care leaver, your personal allowance payments will continue whilst you are awaiting the outcome of your asylum claim and you are therefore unable to claim social benefits, or work. However, if you are deemed ‘All Rights Exhausted’, the support offered to you will be reviewed in line with the Immigration Act 2016 and you will be referred to the Home Office.

If you are an unaccompanied asylum seeking care leaver, your personal allowance payments will continue whilst you are awaiting the outcome of your asylum claim and you are therefore unable to claim social benefits, or work. However, if you are deemed ‘All Rights Exhausted’, the support offered to you will be reviewed in line with the Immigration Act 2016 and you will be referred to the Home Office. 

Universal Credit is quite new and is replacing other forms of social benefit. The full roll-out of this in Hampshire is expected to have been completed by the end of 2018. It is important that you speak to your PA about what you need to claim in your area, as each district may be at a different stage of changing over to Universal Credit at this time. 

It is important that you think about how much money you have and budget so that you do not end up in debt. There are various agencies, including the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, and some local charities who will work with you to create a budgeting plan if you run into difficulties. They can also write to any companies you have debt with to explain how much money you are living on and to set up a realistic repayment plan. As an adult, you cannot ignore debt, as this will simply make matters worse.  Please speak to your PA if you have any questions about debt, or about social benefits. 

We will:

  • Support you to open a bank account.
  • Support you to gain important identification documents, such as a passport
  • Support you to obtain your National Insurance number.
  • Offer discretionary financial support in emergencies
  • Provide a financial gift to you on your birthday, or special occasions [Christmas, Eid etc.] until you reach your 21st birthday
  • Advise and support you in completing a cv, and applying for jobs. This may be through sign posting you to another service who can support with this

Other Payments

There may be times when you hit crisis, or have an unexpected bill, such as for dental treatment. Whilst we do not have to pay for these, please speak to your PA and it will be considered whether we should financially support you with whatever issue has arisen. It is important to remember that our role is also to prepare you for adulthood and, as such, we are not simply here to ‘bail you out’ every time you hit a crisis, therefore support and advice may not mean financial support. We can often sign post you to the right agency to help resolve issues. 

As we want you to gain independent skills, we will contribute £200 towards driving lessons if you wish to learn to drive.

My accommodation

We have a duty to ensure that you have suitable accommodation between  the ages of 18-21. We will support with accommodation costs, if this is required to ensure the accommodation meets your needs. Whilst you can claim housing benefit/ Universal Credit, there may be staff support offered in  some types of accommodation which will not be covered - we will ensure that this is paid. There are different types of housing with support, and you will be made aware of the types of accommodation available. 

Your PA will visit you at your accommodation, as part of the legal requirements, to check that you are OK. We know from our feedback from care leavers in Hampshire that leaving care and moving into more independent accommodation can be lonely and isolating. Please remember that we are here to support you and want to do so. We never want you to feel you are on your own, so contact your PA and discuss how you feel so we can address any issues.

If you are at university and need help with the cost of accommodation during the holidays, we will help you with this. 

Staying Put

Staying with your foster carers beyond the age of 18 is called ‘Staying Put’. If you are currently with a foster carer, you have the option to remain in their care, if everyone agrees, and you have the option to remain there until you turn 21 years old. Rather than being a child in foster care, this arrangement is viewed as a lodger with a host and paid as such. This will not affect you getting a permanent tenancy, but enables you to choose when you feel ready to move onto independent living.  You will be expected to obtain housing benefit/ Universal Credit and make a financial contribution towards the cost of ‘Staying Put’, if you are working.

Supported Accommodation/Semi-independent Living

This is accommodation where you are provided with independent accommodation but are able to get extra help and support from staff. Depending on the type of supported accommodation, the staff might only be there for certain parts of the day. As with any adult accommodation, you will be expected to abide by the rules or risk losing the accommodation.

Supported Lodgings

You can choose to rent a room in a house of a ‘host’. Similar to Staying Put, this means that you would be a lodger in the home.

Shared accommodation

If you decide to live in shared accommodation, as a care leaver 18-21 years old, you will be able to claim the higher-rate one-bedroom rate housing benefit to help cover the cost.

Private accommodation

If you choose to enter privately rented accommodation, you will be solely responsible for managing the tenancy and paying the bills, including gas, electric, phones, water etc.  This is a huge jump from living with a foster carer, so often supported accommodation is better initially to prepare you for this as a next step.

Setting Up Home Allowance

We will support you with a Setting Up Home Allowance, if you move to independent living. You may hear your PA calling this an ‘Independent Living Fund’ or ‘ILF’. This can be quite exciting and scary at the same time, as it means you are about to take a huge step to live independently. When you are ready to move on to independent living, we will pay up to £2,000 for essential items, based on a single young person moving into a one-bedroom flat. This money will not be offered as one lump sum, and we will not replace essential items once they are purchased; we will only purchase them once. 

Everyone has to budget and therefore setting up home is an opportunity to really explore what is available ‘out there’, from free items, to upcycling, or purchasing new. The PAs are aware of what is classed as an essential item and can share this with you. We will pay for your first TV license, however you will need to fund this after the first year and will need to budget for this. You are able to pay your TV license in monthly instalments, although this will be slightly more expensive. You can pay your TV license online at https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/cs/pay-for-your-tv-licence/index.app.  

My participation in society, including getting my voice heard

We want you to feel part of society, and to feel you make a positive contribution to it. We can help you participate in society in the following ways:-

  • Providing information about groups and activities in your area
  • Supporting you to access education, training and/ or employment in your area
  • Supporting you to enrol on the electoral register, so that you can vote
  • Supporting you to access local leisure activities

Getting my voice heard

We want to ensure that your voice is heard. You are the expert of your experiences and how these impact on you. You are the expert of how services helped, or hindered, you. We want to hear from you about your experiences and what we can do, as corporate parents, to improve services for others. 

We will listen to your views, but will not tolerate abuse or aggression. We will treat you with respect and expect the same from you. 

If there are exceptional circumstances and you wish to change your PA, we will listen to your views and consider if this is necessary. We will speak with you about this and ensure we all agree what is best.   

Hampshire has a number of care experienced young people who act as care ambassadors- they are able to ensure their views on various topics are heard and this shapes services for all children and young people in Hampshire. Care ambassadors also get involved in interviewing new staff who will work directly with children and families. They get involved in various events that happen in various parts of the county and country to ensure the voices of Hampshire’s youth are heard loud and clear. If you would like to become involved, please speak to your PA. 

If there has been an issue which you have not been able to resolve, you have the right to complain to Hampshire Children's Services Department. You can contact the complaints team by writing to them at the Children’s Services Complaints Team, Elizabeth II Court North, The Castle, Winchester, SO23 8UG or send an email to childrens.services.complaints@hants.gov.uk.

Who can help? Useful contacts

There are lots of services available which offer advice and support.

Click here to view a few helpful websites that you may find useful, but if you are looking for other support, please speak to your PA. 

 

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