Continuing Care came into force in April 2015 and applied to new care leavers (those who leave care in or after April 2015) who were born after 1 April 1999. It describes a duty on local authorities to provide care leavers whose final placement was ‘away from home’ with a continuation of the kinds of support they received prior to their ceasing to be looked after. This initiative mirrors Staying Put in England and When I'm Ready in Wales.
NAFP's members in Scotland have been working to support and implement Continuing Care for young people over the last few years. I hear examples of some good collaborative work with local authorities, but, in the main, this has not been straightforward. There seems to be a lack of clarity or consistency for no obvious purpose and a lack of visible Continuing Care policies. Many agencies are continuing to use the same policies as for foster care. For young people in long term placements, they can find the arrangements for their care being completely renegotiated.
Continuing Care arrangements with independent and voluntary fostering providers (IVPs) made through the National Contract are captured by Scotland Excel, but this is an under-reported figure. Many local authorities make private arrangements with carers, paying them directly. There is little consistency in how these financial arrangement are calculated or made. Some local authorities make a new decision about what they will pay, whilst others continue to pay the 16+ fostering rate.
The lack of process or clarity surrounding Continuing Care creates dilemmas for IVPs who may still have young people in placement with foster carers who are also offering Continuing Care. Are they part of these Continuing Care arrangements? Do they should offer any support if required? For the IVP carers, agencies vary in practice as to whether they de-register Continuing Care carers who do not have space for another fostering placement.
There has been ongoing confusion about IVPs registering as adult care agencies in order to support Continuing Care arrangements – some have and some haven't. This has become more onerous than was originally outlined by the Care Inspectorate, though an initial free fee has been welcome.
Staf, the Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum, have been looking at the implementation of Continuing Care, and NAFP are linking with this. But for young people living with carers from IVPs, there are a distinct set of issues. NAFP will be speaking with a wide range of stakeholders in Scotland over the coming months, including young people themselves, to develop recommendations to address these issues.