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South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures
South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures

5.7.3 Care Leavers Transitions


Following structural changes an 18+ Care Leavers Team has been configured within the Youth Services branch of the Homes and Communities Directorate to work with young people aged over 18 who have previously been in the care of the local authority.

The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers is the key document that underpins this protocol between Children and Young People in Care Services (CYPIC) and the 18+ Care Leavers Team within Home and Communities.

The main aim of the Care Leavers Regulations and of the above guidance is to make sure that care leavers are provided with comprehensive personal support so that they achieve their potential as they make their transition to adulthood.

This protocol has been written to set out the process by which young people will transition to the 18+ Care Leavers Team.


Staying Put Arrangements Procedure

Responsibilities of the Local Authority to Former Looked After Children and Young People in Custody Procedure


Care Leavers Charter

Department for Education webpage on Children Leaving Care, which has links to several related pieces of guidance/information.

The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review

The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers

IRO Handbook: Statutory guidance for independent reviewing officers and local authorities on their functions in relation to case management and review for looked after children

This chapter was added to the manual in April 2014.


Caption: table of contents
1. Background Information
2. Principles of Transition
3. Legal Definition
4. Care Plans/Pathway Plans and Personal Advisers
5. Process
  5.1 Managers Transfer Meetings
  5.2 Three Way Meetings
  5.3 Transition Planning
  5.4 File Audit
6. Problem Resolution

1. Background Information

Transition to adulthood is often a turbulent time: transitions are no longer always sequential - leave school, work, relationship, setting up home, parenthood. Young people can become adult in one area but not in others. For many young adults, their transition to adulthood can be extended and delayed until they are emotionally and financially ready and they have the qualifications they need and aspire to, so that they have the opportunity to achieve their economic potential. Young people from care may not have this option. Whilst most young people know they can call on the support of their families to help them through unforeseen difficulties, care leavers may not be able to rely on unqualified support if things do not work out as they make their journey into adulthood.

Care leavers should expect the same level of care and support that others would expect from a reasonable parent. The local authority responsible for their care should make sure that they are provided with the opportunities they need, which will include offering them more than one chance as they grapple with taking on the responsibilities of adulthood.

2. Principles of Transition

Research evidence and best practice indicates that young people who have been Looked After will have the best chance of success as adults if those providing transitional care and other support take the following principles into account in talking to the young person and when making any decision:

  • Is this good enough for my own child?
  • Providing a second chance if things don’t go as expected;
  • Is this tailored to their individual needs, particularly if they are more vulnerable than other young people?

No young person should be made to feel that they should "leave care" before they are ready.

It is crucial that the young person’s views are considered in Care Plans and subsequent Pathway Plan and that the young persons and the professionals responsible for contributing to the plan and the review must concur that they have developed the skills necessary to manage any transition to more "independent living" where, as a result, less support will be provided.

As a Corporate Parent, the Local Authority must ensure that there is continued leaving care support and that care leavers are subject to on-going assessment, support and review so that they are able to make a successful transition to adulthood.

3. Legal Definition

Chapter 2 of the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers, details the definitions of categories of children entitled to care leaving support along with the main statutory obligations expected to be delivered by Local Authorities

4. Care Plans/Pathway Plans and Personal Advisers

There is an expectation as Corporate Parents the Local Authority provides support for care leavers as detailed above. The Children Act 1989 requires that a Pathway Plan must be prepared for all eligible children and continued for all Relevant Young People and Former Relevant Young People. 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. This plan must remain a “live document”, setting out the different services and how they will be provided to respond to the full range of the young person’s needs.

All Relevant and Former Relevant Young People must have a Pathway Plan based on an up to date and thorough assessment of their needs.

5. Process

5.1 Managers Transfer Meetings

A monthly transfer meeting will be held, at which relevant managers from Children and Young People in Care Services and the 18+ Team will undertake a review of service users who will be planning to move over to the Care Leavers Team on or around their 18th birthday.

Expectations of meeting:

  • Identification of a named Personal Adviser (PA);
  • Look at current Care Planning Arrangement;
  • Identify needs that may require continued support from Adult Services;
  • Look at the needs and wishes of the young person;
  • Ensure that processes and reviews are relevant and current to meet the needs of the young person.

This meeting should be held at least seven months prior to the young person reaching the age of 18, if already known to Children and Young People in Care Service (CYPIC) or as soon as possible, if qualifying under the Southwark Judgement, so that young people and their carers experience a smooth transition.

5.2 Three Way Meetings

Once a named PA has been identified, there is an expectation that the CYPIC Social Worker as the person with lead responsibility, should work with the PA, to provide information regarding any concerns and needs of the Young Person. Assessments and plans should be shared and discussions held prior to a three way meeting with the young person and any carers.

5.3 Transition Planning

The young people should be well known to the local authority and issues such as accommodation options post 18 and arrangements under “staying put protocols” should be well advanced by the time the young person is 17.5 years old. See Staying Put Policy.

For those young people who require care into adulthood the transition to adult services should also be well advanced by this time and any care package will have been developed and future funding agreed as part of the transition process. This should be led by the Young Person’s Social Worker, with the PA offering advice and support as appropriate. Where there is a need for on-going financial support post 18, this will to be discussed at resource panel (PA to attend where appropriate) and notification forward to Care Leaver Team Leader/Service Manager.

The outgoing social worker will ensure that there is a current assessment of need and that the Care Plans/ Pathway Plan reflect this. The Pathway Plan will be available for scrutiny by the Independent Reviewing Officer seven days before the young person’s final statutory review, which should then ratify the Pathway Plan.

The final review should be held at least eight weeks before the young person’s eighteenth birthday so that any recommendations and or issues relating to the transition plan can be addressed. The Identified PA from the Care Leavers Team must attend the final statutory review so that any outstanding issues can be addressed and a period of joint work can be undertaken to ensure a smooth transition for the young person and their carer, if appropriate.

5.4 File Audit

The Social Worker is responsible for the planning arrangements and delivery of service until the young person formally leaves care and moves to the Care Leaving Team on their 18th birthday. The PA will then be formally responsible for the Care Leaver and this will be recorded on Carefirst6. All cases will be subject to formal file audit at the point of transfer, including the following:

  • Current Pathway Plan;
  • Transfer summary;
  • Chronology;
  • Risk Assessment as identified.

Accountability will only be accepted if the record is in a fit state and all outstanding tasks have been addressed or negotiated to be completed by the PA. This will be finalised between the CYPIC Team Managers and Team Leader for Care Leavers Team.

6. Problem Resolution

Where there are issues that cannot be resolved by the relevant team managers they will be escalated to the Service Manager, Children and Young People in Care, and the Service Manager, Youth Service.