Quality statement 8: Support to move to independence

Quality statement

Care leavers move to independence at their own pace.

Rationale

The transition to adulthood can be difficult for young people in care. As with all young people, those leaving care value being able to move to independence at their own pace. This needs effective pathway planning and discussions.

Services designed for young people and delivered by friendly, approachable professionals can help young people find practical and emotional support and advice, at the right time, to prepare for independence.

Quality measure

Structure:

a) Evidence of local arrangements to ensure pathway planning is responsive to the needs of young people preparing to leave care and equips them with the skills they need to live independently.

b) Evidence of local arrangements to ensure that care leavers are given the option to remain in a stable foster home or residential home beyond the age of 18, and to return to the care of the local authority, including their previous placement (if possible), if they experience difficulty in moving to live independently.

c) Evidence that a range of accommodation and support is available for care leavers.

Outcome:

a) Feedback from care leavers that they felt supported to move to live independently at their own pace.

b) Care leaver satisfaction with their accommodation.

c) Accommodation status of young people leaving care.

What the quality statement means for each audience

Young people leaving care have a pathway plan that prepares them for leaving care and have continued access to and support from services to ensure that they move to independence at their own pace.

Local authorities and other commissioning services ensure they commission services that develop responsive pathway plans with young people preparing to live independently, and that provide continued access to and support to ensure care leavers move to independence at their own pace.

Organisations providing care ensure arrangements are in place to develop responsive pathway plans with young people preparing to live independently, and that young people have continued access to and support from services to ensure that they move to independence at their own pace.

Social care, education and healthcare staff develop responsive pathway plans with young people preparing to live independently and offer continued access to and support from services to ensure that they move to independence at their own pace.

Source guidance

NICE public health guidance 28/SCIE guide 40 recommendations 46, 47 and 48.

Data source

Structure: a), b) and c) Local data collection. Data collected through the Children looked after return (SSDA903) and reported in the Department for Education Statistical first release: outcomes for children looked after by local authorities in England include information on the percentage of children leaving care after the age of 16 who remained looked after until their 18th birthday.

Outcome: a) Local data collection and the Children's Commissioner for England State of the Nation: children in care and care leavers survey.

b) Local data collection.

c) Data collected through the Children looked after return (SSDA903) and reported in the Department for Education Statistical first release: Outcomes for children looked after by local authorities in England include information on the percentage of care leavers in suitable accommodation.

Definitions

Carers

Carers include foster carers (including family and friends carers), residential carers and supported lodging providers.

Pathway plan

Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations volume 2: care planning, placement and case review states that a pathway plan must be prepared for all eligible children and continued for all relevant and former relevant children. Each young person's pathway plan will be based on and include their care plan and will set out the actions that must be taken by the responsible authority, the young person, their parents, their carers and the full range of agencies, so that each young person is provided with the services they need to enable them to achieve their aspirations and make a successful transition to adulthood.

Range of housing options

The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations volume 3: planning transition to adulthood for care leavers sets out a range of semi-independent and independent accommodation options for care leavers, including:

  • enabling young people to remain in the accommodation in which they lived whilst being looked after, for example by converting a foster placement to a post-18 arrangement or supported lodgings

  • supported lodgings, other than with former carers

  • foyers and other supported housing, combining accommodation with support and opportunities for education, training and employment

  • trainer flats where young people can practice living more independently without compromising their future housing options

  • specialist accommodation, for example self-contained accommodation with personal assistance support, or therapeutic placements for young people with specific support needs

  • independent accommodation in the social or private rented sectors, with flexible floating support as needed

  • living with birth families.

Skills to live independently

Support to develop skills to live independently will vary according the needs and preferences of individual young people. Examples of skills include:

  • skills to manage everyday living with confidence, including support with personal relationships and money management

  • learning practical skills, such as cooking and shopping.

Equality and diversity considerations

Some groups of young people may need additional support in leaving care, such as young people with physical or learning disabilities, unaccompanied asylum seekers, children with special education needs and children with speech, language and communication difficulties.

Context for this quality statement

This section signposts practitioners to regulations, statutory guidance and national minimum standards for looked-after children and young people that are of particular relevance to the NICE quality statement and its associated measures. As the legislative framework in relation to looked-after children and care leavers is complex and cross-cutting, this should not be viewed as an exhaustive list.