Foster care is a family home for children and young people to live in when they cannot live with their own family and there are no other family members or family friends to help. This is called ‘going into care’ or ‘being looked after’. It may be just for a short time or for a much longer time, depending on the problems at home.
Foster carers are people who want to offer a home to young people who cannot live with their own family. They are carefully checked and trained to make sure they can offer you a safe and stable place to live. A foster carer may live alone, with a partner, and with or without children of their own. There may be other foster children living there, and they may or may not have pets. You should be given a foster carer’s profile to read before you come to live in their home, and this will tell you all about them.
Residential Care/Children’s homes
Residential placements are sought as per a child's care plan/needs and as agreed by the allocated social worker. Upon receipt of the referral, a global email is sent out to respective providers ( depending on the type of placement required ). The placement will be considered with the needs of the child, specialist services they may offer, location preferred to match the child's needs and the connecting factors involved such as additional support of services such as CAMHS/YOS. A residential placement may/may not include the educational element.
A key worker is allocated within a residential unit to work closely with the child or young person throughout the placement duration and will aim to build a trusting and nurturing relationship. The focus will be given to the young person's specific needs as per the type of unit the child/YP is placed in (such as CSE, gang affiliation, etc.) and the objectives set by the allocated social worker. Sessions are held between the key worker and the young person to help build positive relationships and is crucial to a young person's stability in placement as this is their main support line in addressing their needs.
A semi-independent/supported accommodation placement is sourced for care leavers aged 16-25 years old who require additional support to manage to live independently/gaining skills to develop themselves to progress in life/meet their developmental milestones. Upon receipt of the referral, a global email is sent out to respective providers (depending on the type of placement required) The placement will be considered with the needs of the child and what type of setting would best suit/meet the child's needs (such as 24/7 support, stand-alone flat with floating support).
On admission, the young person will meet with their key worker and will be given a “Young Persons Guide” which outlines the household rules, expectations, fire procedures, license agreement, and complaints procedure, etc. A designated key worker takes responsibility for the detailed support/goals and objectives of a young person as per the young person's care plan. The key worker will be available to attend all relevant appointments as well as helping young people with their independent living skills. This will be evidence-based through reports/daily logs on the progress within the placement which is shared with the allocated social worker/commissioning team
AfC works with a number of different semi-independent accommodation providers in and out of the area.
Moving home (Placement)
If you are under 18, your social worker will always help you to move or will ensure someone that you trust will move you. A placement planning meeting should happen within three working days and a new review held if this was not a planned move. Your social worker can help you plan any moves.
In 2014, the Children and Families Act formalised the practice of allowing young people to remain with their foster carers post 18. Under ‘staying put’ arrangements, young people can remain with their foster carers beyond their 18th birthday if this suits the young person, carer and the local authority. For some young people this will be to complete their education. Others may need extra time to make the transition to independence because of their support needs and the additional emotional and practical support they require to prepare.
Any young adult in a ‘staying put’ arrangement will be expected to contribute financially to the ‘staying put’ carer towards their maintenance and to the rent. This is called a service charge. You have to pay this from the income you receive. This includes:
- Universal credit
- Student loan
- Weekly subsistence allowance (if you have no recourse to public funds)
This will be discussed with you individually and arrangements confirmed within the ‘staying put’ living together agreement.
Independent housing can mean different things, but usually independent housing means that you have signed a tenancy or license agreement and are responsible for paying rent, utility bills, and council tax; being a good neighbour; and keeping the accommodation clean and in good repair.
Your personal advisor or social worker will speak with you about moving to independent accommodation and together you will decide when this is right for you. Your personal advisor or social worker may ask for some evidence - such as proof that you have been paying your service charge, have kept to your staying put agreement or licence agreement (if you were in supported accommodation), and can manage appointments and other commitments. They will also need to see that you have been a good neighbour by not creating too much noise or inviting a lot of friends over. They will also want to know that you can keep yourself safe and know how to respond to an emergency.
When you turn 18, you have the right to be put your name down on the local housing register. When you move from foster care or supported accommodation, you can move to a trainee flat in Kingston or Richmond on a licence agreement. You can live there for up to two years. As a care leaver, you are entitled to a leaving care quota nomination through the Kingston and Richmond housing departments. This means that you will be placed onto Band B priority housing, meaning you will get permanent council accommodation. However, the Leaving Care Team will only nominate you when you have shown independence.
You may also choose to move into private rented accommodation.
You are entitled to up to £2,000 setting up home allowance when you move to your permanent property. Your personal advisor or social worker can help you with all relevant procedures as part of housing benefit applications and can provide support if you feel worried about making rent payment.