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Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual
Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual
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5.10.6 Transfer of Case Holding Between Qualified Social Worker and Personal Advisor When the Child Ceases to be Looked After


In August 2015, there was a slight amendment to Section 1, Policy - Introduction and Overview.


  1. Policy - Introduction and Overview
  2. Legal Documents
  3. Practice Guidance

1. Policy - Introduction and Overview

This policy provides practice and guidance for transfer of work between the social worker and Personal Adviser when the young person ceases to be looked after, i.e. no longer an eligible child. This can be from a social worker in any social care team Where a child will move from eligible to relevant or from eligible to former relevant.

This policy follows the process outlined in the Vol 3 Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers and Vol 2 Care Planning, Placement and Case Review March 2010.

At the point at which a young person becomes an eligible child and it is envisaged that s/he will be leaving care, the pathway plan will have already been prepared which will have included the child's care plan.

Therefore this policy will relate to Eligible, Relevant and Former Relevant.

  • An 'eligible child' is a looked after child aged 16 or 17, who has been looked after for a total of at least 13 weeks which began after s/he reached the age of 14, and ends after s/he reaches the age of 16;
  • A 'relevant child' is a young person aged 16 or 17 who was an 'eligible child' but is no longer looked after
  • A 'former relevant child', is a young person aged 18 or over who was either an eligible or a relevant child.

Once a young person ceases to be looked after and they are a relevant child, or once they reach legal adulthood at age 18 and are a former relevant child, then the Local Authority will no longer be required to provide them with a social worker to plan and co-ordinate their care.

The local authority must, however, appoint a Personal Adviser to support them. The PA will act as the focal point to ensure that care leavers are provided with the right kind of personal support. All care leavers should be aware of who their PA is and how to contact them, so that throughout their transition to adulthood they are able to rely on consistent support from their own key professional.

Where a move to ‘other arrangements’ takes place as part of the care planning/pathway planning process to prepare a looked after child for the transition to adulthood, then this move will represent a significant change to the young person’s care plan. Such a move should only take place following careful planning that will have been scrutinised at the young person’s review meeting, chaired by his/her personal IRO. In attendance at the review will be the current social worker and the named person from the Pathway Plan who will have been appointed as the personal adviser. The review should detail dates and timescales that should be agreed as to when the Personal Advisor will take over the management of the case and become responsible for the management of the pathway plan.

The review must establish that a pathway plan is in place. The plan must indicate how it is intended that the proposed move will meet the young person’s needs. The review too must be satisfied that the young person has been properly prepared and will be able to manage in new accommodation. It should be routine practice that the young person will have visited any proposed new accommodation so that s/he is able to take an informed view about its suitability.

The move should maintain as much stability as possible and, in particular, enable the young person to pursue his/her chosen education, training or employment options. The prospective accommodation providers should participate in this review meeting. This will allow the review to establish whether the expectations about what the move is intended to achieve will realistically address the young person’s needs as set out in the proposed plan.

2. Legal Documents

Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000
Children and Young Persons Act 2008
Care Standards Act 2000

3. Practice Guidance

The transition should follow the comprehensive framework of assessment, care planning, intervention and case review that will ensure that local authorities plan the support they will give to prepare 16 and 17 year olds for the time when they will not be looked after.

Transition to adulthood for looked after children should not just start on their 16th birthday; preparation for a time when they will no longer be looked after should be integral to the care planning process throughout their time in care.

The responsibilities of local authorities to prepare Pathway Plans and support care leavers as they make the transition to adulthood apply irrespective of any other services being provided for them, for example, because they are disabled, in custody, or because they are being looked after as they entered the country as an unaccompanied asylum seeking child (UASC).

The Children Act 1989 Act requires 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. 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.

Research and practice shows 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?

It will be good practice, where possible, for the young person to maintain the same PA from the age of 18 that was allocated to their support when they were an eligible or a relevant child. However, where young people have continued to have a qualified social worker as well as their PA, their reaching legal adulthood may provide the opportunity to transfer responsibility for supporting them to a PA with particular skills in working with young adults. Any such transfer of support should take place in a planned and managed way; for example, the transfer of support could be timed to coincide with a scheduled review of the young person’s pathway plan, or when the young person becomes more settled following a change of education/training or accommodation.

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 an 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.

Before any move for a young people can take place, the young person’s statutory review meeting, chaired by their IRO, will evaluate the quality of the assessment of the young person’s readiness and preparation for any move. The young person 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.

Children will cease to be looked after for many different reasons. They do not cease to be looked after simply as a result of a move from a regulated placement in, for example, foster care or children’s home, to an unregulated one, perhaps in ‘supported lodgings’.

No looked after young person should move from accommodation that is regulated under the Care Standards Act 2000 to other arrangements without a review of his/her care plan, chaired by his/her IRO. This would include moving to accommodation which is often referred to as ‘semi-independent accommodation’ (e.g. in supported lodgings; hostels; or supported housing where there is visiting support) which is not inspected by Ofsted.

Disabled young people will face many of the same experiences and challenges as other care leavers. However, the transition to adulthood for disabled young people who are looked after may be particularly challenging.

Care leavers with complex needs, including those with disabilities, may transfer direct to adult services and the pathway plan will need to ensure that this transition is seamless and supported. Local authority responsibilities towards disabled care leavers are the same as for all other care leavers. Because of their additional needs, some young people may draw on a number of services, receive support from several professionals and have multiple plans. The local authority must ensure that these processes are streamlined as much as possible and roles and responsibilities discussed with the young person and their carers.

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) making the transition from care to adulthood have both a leaving care status and an immigration status in addition to their placement and accommodation, education, health, financial, religious and cultural needs. Planning transition to adulthood for UASC is a particularly complex process that needs to address the young people’s care needs in the context of wider asylum and immigration legislation and how these needs change over time.

Pathway planning to support a UASC’s transition to adulthood should cover all areas that would be addressed within all young people’s plans as well as any additional needs arising from their specific immigration issues. Planning may initially have to be based around short term achievable goals whilst entitlement to remain in the UK is being determined.

Pathway planning for the majority of UASC who do not have permanent immigration status should initially take a dual or triple planning perspective, which, over time should be refined as the young person’s immigration status is resolved.

Many looked after children return to birth parents when they cease to be looked after so it is good practice to involve parents.

It will be essential that eligible children are provided with the full support that results from being looked after at a crucial period in their development when, for example, they may be studying for public examinations. Arrangements for supporting them to prepare for the time when they will cease to be looked after and leaving care should be carefully planned to avoid duplication so that these arrangements reinforce the support that they should already be receiving.

It is important to note that the assessment informing the care plan is primarily concerned with the young person’s current needs while s/he is looked after, whereas the information required to complete the pathway plan must also address how, in the light of these needs, the young person will need to be supported to ensure that s/he has support to develop and sustain family and social relationships - contact with the young person’s parents, wider family and friends and the capacity of this network to encourage the young person and enable him/her to make a positive transition to adulthood.

Relationships with brothers and sisters are often disrupted for a range of reasons and yet are identified by children as some of the most important people with whom they wish to maintain contact. As they get older, friends become more important and can provide important support during difficult times in a child’s life and during transitions to home, a new placement or to adulthood. This means that at the time of entry into care and throughout a care episode, the social worker should ensure that all the people who are significant in a child’s life are identified and their details recorded in the care and placement plan. Contact with the young person’s parents, wider family and friends and the capacity of this network to encourage the young person and enable them to make a positive transition to adulthood.