Supporting a young person in their teenage years is an important role, as good support can set them up for a happy life. Continuing care is a fairly new legal category. It is defined by The children and young people (Scotland) Act 2014 as -meaning the same accommodation and other assistance as was being provided for the eligible person by the local authority, immediately before the person ceased to be looked after. Continuing care has the aim to ‘keep children put’, allowing them to stay in their placement until 21 years old. It might be a bit confusing to navigate the differences between continuing care and other types of placements, especially between the ages of 16 to 18, when both options are usually available to young people. It is really important that you, as an adult in their life, understand the difference so that you can help them make an informed decision. Whether you work in education, in youth work or are a social worker – you should be aware of the implications of continuing care.
Most importantly, continuing care means that a young person is formally leaving care, a legal difference that can consequences for the resources available for young people.
The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (the 2014 Act) was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 19 February 2014. Continuing Care’ is a new legal term established by the 2014 Act. It means the continued provision of the accommodation (placement) and other assistance that was being provided by the local authority immediately before the young person ceased to be looked after. Young people will have to formerly cease to be looked after (i.e. ending a supervision requirement or voluntary arrangement) to be eligible. However, this does not mean that potentially eligible young people need to come off Supervision Requirements (or end voluntary arrangements) earlier than planned. If a looked after young person was born on or after 1 April 1999, they become a ‘care leaver’ in or after April 2015, and their last placement was ‘away from home’, they will be eligible to ‘Continuing Care’ whenever they cease to be looked after
Part 11 of the 2014 Act concerns itself with Continuing Care, which is a new status established by the 2014 Act and is a significant change to both legislation and policy in Scotland. It inserts a new section 26A into the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 (the 1995 Act) to place local authorities under a duty to provide Continuing Care in certain circumstances. Effectively it offers eligible young persons the entitlement to remain in their care setting up to their twenty-first birthday where they cease to be looked after by a local authority.
Young people are eligible for Continuing Care if they were looked after on or after their 16th birthday. This eligibility extends to their 22nd birthday.
Local authorities have a duty, under section 17 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, to provide advice and assistance with a view to preparing children for when they cease to be looked after by them. Continuing Care is part of that continuum of care that better prepares looked after young people for successful transitions out of the looked after system, based on plans which reflect their needs and aspirations, backed up by consistent, personalised support from local authorities and other corporate parents.
Continuing Care is an opportunity to plan in a gradual way increasing independence at a rate and stage that suits the evolving capacity of the young person. The aim of the provision is to ensure that where it does not significantly adversely affect their welfare then all eligible looked after young people are encouraged, enabled and empowered to stay in an existing care placement until they are able to demonstrate their readiness and willingness to move on to interdependent living. Interdependence more accurately reflects the day-to-day reality of an extended range of healthy inter-personal relationships, social supports and networks. A continuing care placement should not be offered as an alternative to being looked after.
The most important thing for you as an adult in the young person’s life is: Listen to the young person and make sure you advise them in their interest. There can be competing considerations, such as financial or availability of placements – but these should not be more important than the wishes and needs of the young person.
Staf hold implications of continuing care events throughout the year. If you are interested please sign-up here - Here