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3.2.14 Placement in Supported Lodgings - Leeds City Council Fostering Department

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This policy sets out Leeds City Council’s Supported Lodgings Policy. It covers the recruitment, assessment, support and review of Supported Lodgings Providers as well as various issues affecting such carer/providers. This chapter also details the procedural requirements concerning the scheme itself and the young people who will use it.

AMENDMENT

Section 9, Finance was updated throughout in December 2016 to reflect 2016/2017 payment levels.


Contents

  1. Relevant Legislation, Regulations and Government Guidance
  2. Aims of the Scheme
  3. The Target Group
  4. What is Supported Lodgings
  5. Supported Lodgings Providers and What they Offer
  6. Wider Expectations of the Supported Lodgings Provider Role/ Task
  7. Approval and Reviews of Supported Lodgings Providers
  8. Training, Support and Supervision for Supported Lodgings Providers
  9. Finance
  10. Accommodation
  11. Accessing the Scheme and Making a Referral
  12. Making a Placement 
  13. Ending a Supported Lodgings Placement  


1. Relevant Legislation, Regulations and Government Guidance

  • Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 3: Planning Transitions to Adulthood for Care Leavers 2010 (revised 2014);
  • The revised Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (revised 2013 and 2014);
  • Children and Families Act 2014;
  • Fostering Regulations 2011 and 2013 assessing and approval update.

In terms of meeting the requirements set out in the above legislation and guidance, the Supported Lodgings Scheme:

  • Contributes to Leeds strategy to ensure access for young people to a range of accommodation options suitable to the diverse needs of care leavers aged 16 + at different stages in the leaving care process;
  • Supports positive outcomes for looked after young people; research as well as practice evidence is clear that young people in supported lodgings achieve higher than average levels of success.


2. Aims of the Scheme

The scheme seeks to enable looked after young people to make as smooth a transition as possible from a care situation to independent living by offering a stepping stone of independent living with support, thus promoting positive planning and preparation  for independence in line with the Pathway Plan for each young person.

The aim is to support young people to gain the practical and emotional skills that they will require to achieve success when living independently.

The scheme is designed to help young people mature and develop by enabling them to experience being part of a supportive living environment. It is anticipated that they can benefit from a level of freedom and responsibility whilst still sharing a home and time with an adult/ adults who are positive role model/models providing guidance, advice and support in a consistent and positive manner.


3. The Target Group

Supported Lodgings is a resource for Looked after Young People and Care Leavers aged between 16-21 (25 if in education or training) who are assessed via the Pathway Planning Process as needing this resource.  The scheme will provide housing and support to young people with a wide variety of support needs.

At the time of referral to the scheme, a young person must be assessed as being ready to begin to live independently with support and this scheme should be the most appropriate resource available to meet the young person’s accommodation and support needs as identified within their Pathway Plan.

Supported Lodgings Placements are likely to be most suitable for young people who are willing and able to:

  • Regulate their behaviour to comply with reasonable house rules and expectations;
  • Engage with the carer /provider to gain the skills needed to successfully live independently in the future;
  • Engage with education, training, work experience and/or employment, working towards achieving economic stability into adulthood;
  • Engage with other agencies and professionals to address any issues that would stand in the way of them moving forward and securing the skills and resources needed to achieving stability and success in their lives.

Supported Lodgings is unlikely to be suitable for those young people who for example have few boundaries to their behaviour, who would likely present a significant risk to others or who want/ need the freedom and anonymity of other settings.


4. What is Supported Lodgings

A young person will live with a family/ couple/single person sharing their home. The young person is a member of the household, not a member of the family, but will share in some household /family experiences.

The young person is provided with safe and appropriate accommodation, guidance and support to help prepare them for living independently. The Supported Lodgings Providers work alongside and in conjunction with others working with the young person promoting their practical, social and emotional development in keeping with their Care/ Pathway Plan.

It is envisaged that the young person will progress, developing new skills and confidence and the level of support offered by the carer/provider will reduce as the young person moves towards greater independence and the eventual move to independent living.


5. Supported Lodgings Providers and What they Offer

5.1 Who can be a Supported Lodgings Provider?

Looked after Young People and Care Leavers with a wide variety of needs require Supportive Lodgings Placements. In light of this, we need providers who can support this group of young people. Supported Lodgings Providers can be married; single or in a relationship. Providers can be in employment or home based. Providers who work full time must be flexible to enable them to support the young person to develop their independent living skills. Providers must be aged 21 years or over, can be a parent or have experience of working with young people in a variety of settings. Providers can be home owners or rent their homes.

We require Providers who need to be resident full time in the property but can continue to pursue their own lifestyle including work arrangements, social activities and holidays. 

5.2 Qualities and skills of Supported Lodgings Providers

Supported Lodgings Providers may be very different from each other and come from many different walks of life. Each will have their skills and strengths but what providers will have in common is that they enjoy having young people around; have an understanding of the difficulties faced by looked after young people and care leavers and a desire to make a difference to their lives by equipping them with the skills and confidence to live independently.

They will also need to be:

  • Warm and caring
  • Patient and tolerant
  • Flexible in their approach and able to adapt to different and changing situations
  • Have reasonable expectations of young people’s capabilities and vulnerabilities, recognising their experiences
  • Willing and able to provide support to a range of young people
  • Willing and able to work in partnership with Social Workers, Personal Advisors, Connexions, Housing Support Workers etc in line with the Pathway Plan
  • Accepting that young people will make mistakes and often need a second or third chance to get it right!

Most young people who need Supported Lodgings Placement have been through some difficult and challenging times and may have some specific support needs as detailed in their Pathway Plan. Providers will be required to work closely with others to provide for the needs of young people.

5.3 What Supported Lodgings Providers offer to the Young Person

The service provided is tailored to the needs and circumstances of the individual as detailed in their Pathway Plan and will include:

Practical Support:

  • A home-like environment and domestic routine consistent with the young person engaging in education, training or work;
  • Prepared meals- this should reduce in frequency as the young person becomes increasingly more independent and prepares meals for themselves, with the provider purchasing the necessary ingredients;
  • Support to gain the practical skills e.g. shopping, cooking, budgeting etc that young people will need to achieve successful independent living;
  • Support and guidance regarding money management and budgeting to enable the young person to pay their bills, live within their means and access any benefits they may be entitled to;
  • Advice and support to achieve and maintain a reasonable level of personal and household hygiene;
  • Advice and Guidance to maintain positive health and wellbeing which may involve supporting the young person register with a GP, Dentist and/or to attend medical appointments.

Emotional Support:  

  • Modelling for the young person a positive way of living and engaging with the wider community/ society;
  • Developing and sustaining a consistent, positive and supportive relationship with  the young person;
  • Acting as an advocate on their behalf when dealing with others/ agencies;
  • Providing the young person with opportunities to share in some positive family/life experiences within their own families/ social networks;
  • Acting as a mentor for the young person, providing guidance and support to help them address any emotional problems that the young person may be dealing with, signposting them to appropriate services if required;
  • Support the young person with maintaining contact with family and friends;
  • Support the young person to link into activities / social opportunities available in the local community.


6. Wider Expectations of the Supported Lodgings Provider Role/ Task

Underpinning values

The following values will be integral in the Provider’s attitude/interaction:

  • Individuals are respected;
  • Differences and diversity is valued;
  • Equality is promoted;
  • Discrimination is challenged;
  • Confidentiality is maintained;
  • Advice and feedback is provided in a constructive way to the young person in the placement.

Managing Confidential Information and Recording

In order to provide the best help and support we can and keep our young people as safe as possible we need to know as much as possible about them and their day to day lives e.g. how they are doing at college, who their friends are etc.

Recording this information helps us to follow their progress; informs their Pathway Plan and enables the appropriate support to be offered e.g. if a young person is struggling with attending college.

Often the people who have the best knowledge of these issues are the people who live with and care for our young people, so our Supported Lodgings Providers will be required to record information about their weekly lives with young people placed with them and some of the particular incidents that happen.

Each Provider’s Support worker will provide clear guidance about what needs to be recorded and how and who this needs to be shared with taking into account the age of the young person.

Working as part of a Team

The Supported Lodgings Provider will be part of a team often involving a number of different professionals and agencies, working together to support the young person.

There is a requirement that the provider will not only provide direct support to the young person but also contributes in the planning for the young person, by helping assess their needs through the gathering and sharing of information with the rest of the team.

Maintaining regular contact with the professionals involved with the young person such as the Social Worker, Personal Advisor, Independent Reviewing Officer, College etc will be an essential aspect of the provider’s role.

Providers will participate in Looked after Reviews for young people who are looked after where the Pathway Plan will be reviewed. For 18 year olds, providers will participate in Pathway Plan Reviews.


7. Approval and Reviews of Supported Lodgings Providers

Assessment Process

An enquiry is made by a prospective provider, initially to the Recruitment Team within the Fostering Department. Basic information and background details will be taken in the form of an ‘Initial Contact’.

If there is a clear reason why it is not appropriate to take the enquiry further this will be explained to prospective provider and confirmed in writing.

If the prospective provider meets minimum criteria then they shall be progressed to the ‘home visit’ stage.

If it is appropriate for a home visit; the nature of the home visit will be explained to the prospective provider and arrangements will be made to carry out this visit.

During the home visit, the following issues will be addressed:

  • Expectations of Supported Lodgings Providers;
  • Financial arrangements;
  • An overview of the assessment process including what checks and references will be required;
  • Any relevant information in relation to health (physical and emotional), any convictions and/ or involvement with the Police and/or Children’s Social Care;
  • An overview inspection of the property including viewing the room proposed for supported lodgings use, as well as the general condition of the accommodation and shared living spaces.

The completed home visit will be passed to the Manager/s of the Supportive Lodgings Scheme with a recommendation from the Fostering Advisor as to whether to progress the application or not and the reasoning.

Following the home visit and the completion of a home visit report, a decision will be made by the Manager. If the decision is not to progress the application further the applicant will be contacted and informed of this. This will be confirmed in writing.

If the decision is to progress the application to the next stage, a letter will be sent inviting the prospective provider to complete an (enclosed) application form which will include permission for the Local Authority to undertake the necessary checks.

When the application form is returned, the assessment will be allocated and the necessary checks will be initiated.

The Assessment

The assessment will be written in accordance to Fostering Regulations: Assessment and approval of foster carers: Amendments to the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations July 2013.

The focus of the assessment will be the underpinning principles in terms of what constitutes good caring skills, the requirements of the task and the applicant’s particular situation, experience, strengths and skills in relation to these.

The assessment will adopt a competency based approach. It is expected that during the assessment potential supportive lodgings carers will be able to offer evidence of, as well as telling us about their suitability for and ability to undertake the different aspects of the role/task.

If, during the assessment, the Assessing Social Worker and Team Manager do not believe that a positive recommendation can be made the prospective provider will be encouraged to withdraw from the assessment process. Should the prospective provider decline to withdraw the Assessing Social Worker will complete a short report with a negative recommendation and present this to one of two fostering panels that have received supported lodgings training. Panel will be asked to make a recommendation that will be forwarded to the Agency Decision Maker.

Once the assessment is concluded, the Assessing Social Worker will make a recommendation as to whether the prospective provider should be approved as a ‘Foster Carer (Level 1) - Supported Lodgings Provider’ or not and the reasons for this. The assessment will be quality assured by the Team Manager and if he/she agrees with the recommendation will sign off the assessment.

If the assessment is positive, a recommendation should also be made as to the number of young people the applicant might offer support and accommodation to; this will normally be limited to one.

The concluded assessment will be forwarded to one of two fostering panels that have received training in supported lodgings. The Assessing Social Worker and the prospective provider will be expected to attend. Panel will be asked to make a recommendation that will be forwarded to the Agency Decision Maker for ratification (should panel’s recommendation be positive).

Following ratification, a profile of the Supported Lodgings Provider will be drawn up by the Assessing Social Worker detailing their particular strengths and skills and giving an overview of their family and living situation. This will be made available to the Placement Team and to referring Social Workers and Personal Advisors. The provider will be required to sign an Agreement setting out the expectations.

Review of Approval

Supported Lodgings Providers will be reviewed on an annual basis. As part of the process, a meeting will take place that will include the Provider, their Support Worker and a Reviewing Officer.

The meeting will focus on the provider’s experience of providing placements to young people during the review period and any changes in circumstances or proposed changes to the provider’s profile.

Written Feedback will be sought from Social Workers, Personal Advisors and Young People regarding the placements provided within the review period.

The Support Worker will complete a report detailing how the previous period has gone and make a recommendation as to future approval as well as any development/ training issues.

The Reviewing Officer will complete review documentation summarising the above and make a recommendation with regard to future approval and any development/ training/ work issues.

Both the Fostering Department and the Supported Lodgings provider have the right to call an early review.

Should the Supported Lodgings Provider be subject to a serious complaint or allegation then, following any investigation and subject to the outcome, an early review will be completed with its recommendations being presented to one of the two fostering panels that have received supported lodgings training.


8. Training, Support and Supervision for Supported Lodgings Providers

Training

Supported Lodgings Providers will be provided with a range of training as part of their induction and on-going development. There will be an expectation that providers attend ‘core training’ in line with other registered foster carers within their first year and then minimum training in subsequent years. Further training will be identified through supervisory visits and the review process.

Supported Lodgings Providers will be required and supported to maintain an individual Training Profile which will show which training they have attended and which training is still required.

Supervision

The Supported Lodgings Provider will have an allocated Support Worker from the Fostering Department. Their main focus will be offering guidance and support to the provider to enable them to meet the needs of the young person living with them. They will help address any problems, and where appropriate act as the link between the provider and other agencies working with the young person. At times they may help to explore what other resources might be needed to make the placement successful.

Frequency and content of visits

The Support Worker will visit the Supported Lodgings Provider at least every 4 weeks. The frequency of visits will depend on a number of factors including the stability of the placement; the provider’s experience; any challenges regarding the young person in placement etc.

Between planned visits, the Support Worker will provide advice/ support via phone or e mail, or via additional visits if needed. An unannounced visit to the provider will be made every twelve months.

If at any stage there are particular difficulties/ a crisis in placement, a meeting may be requested by the young person’s Social Worker and/or Personal Advisor or the Support Worker to discuss the situation and plan the best way forward.

A “buddy” support and advice scheme whereby more experienced providers are available to offer support and advice to their less experienced colleagues.

Support Groups

Providers will be provided with access to regular support groups, which will be held at varying times and venues.

As well as offering Providers the opportunity to meet, share information and receive support, the meetings will also provide a forum for training and information sharing sessions.

Out of office hours, Providers can contact the Emergency Duty Service on: 0113 2409536.

Please see above information on the “buddy” system- as it may be appropriate for an experienced carer to offer this support.


9. Finance

Young Person / Young Adult (2016/2017)

For the sake of this scheme, payments to the Providers will be called ‘Supported Lodgings Allowance’ and will be paid at £188.54 p/w.

Supported Lodging Providers will not be to give young people any finances, this will be arranged by their Social Worker / Personal Advisor and monies will be paid directly into the young person’s bank account, totalling £40.00pw. This should be discussed at the Placement Planning Meeting / Living Together Agreement meeting.

An additional clothing payment of £400 P/A will be made to the young person by their Social Worker/Personal Advisor. This payment is based on an ‘assessment of need’ throughout the year (31st March – April1st).

From the young person’s 18th birthday the monies paid to the young person by their Social Worker / Personal Advisor will cease and should be replaced by the young person’s welfare benefit claim (e.g. Income support or Jobseekers allowance).

In situations where young people aged 18 plus are working, and do not claim a means tested benefit they will be expected to use their earnings to replace the pocket money and clothing allowance.

Young people aged 18 plus are responsible for accommodation costs of £62.00 per week. For those young people who are on a low income, they may be entitled to full Housing Benefit. This would be claimed by the young person but directed to the Fostering Department as an agent of the Supported Lodgings Provider. For those young people that are not entitled to full Housing Benefit then they would be expected to contribute the short fall to the Fostering Department, through their earnings.

For those young people who are not entitled to any Housing Benefit, again due to their earnings / savings, they would be expected to make the full payment of £62.00 p/w (2016/17) to the Fostering Department.

The rent element of the Supported Lodgings arrangement is set at £62.00 (2016/17). If a young person is not entitled to Housing Benefit due to excess income, then their contribution would be £62.00 per week. If a young person is entitled to Housing Benefit, however it is below £62.00, they would be expected to contribute the difference. For example if the Housing Benefit was £32.00, the young person would contribute £30.00.

For each young person placed over 18 the total expense to the Fostering Department should not exceed £126.54 p/w per young person.

Those young people aged 16 & 17 (who are looked after) would not be entitled to Housing Benefit and therefore the full maintenance allowance would be met by from the fostering financial budget.

Retainers (when no young people are in placement) would not be paid to any Supported Lodgings Provider.

Additional payments for Christmas (religious festival) and birthdays will be paid to the young person directly by their Social Worker/Personal Advisor and not by the Fostering Department via the Provider. They are set at £120 each. To provide a holiday to the young person they will be provided with £492.88, again directly from the Social Worker/Personal Advisor.

As Supported Lodgings Providers are approved according to fostering regulations they would be entitled to the Leeds City Council corporate offer and additional household insurance.

Adoption Support Supported Lodgings Provider payments:

Supported Lodgings Providers will be paid £188.54 p/w per adoptive young person aged 16 & 17 years old.

The adoptive parent/s will be expected to provide their child monies totally £40.00 p/w), plus up to £400.00 p/a clothing allowance). Adopted young people are excluded from receiving Christmas, Birthday and Holiday monies from the Department. The adoptive parent/s cannot choose to give this money directly to the Supported Lodgings Provider as the provider could be liable for income tax on this money, it must be given directly to their child. All adoptive parents must agree to make these payments before a placement can be accessed. Depending on the adoptive families circumstances they may already be receiving between £13.70- £20.70 per week in child benefit.

Those adoptive young people aged 18 plus would be expected to claim Housing Benefit or pay though their earnings.

Supported Lodgings Provider

For those Providers who offer placements to looked after 16 & 17 year olds, payments made to them under section 23C of the Children Act 1989 via the young person; or directly to the provider on behalf of the young person are disregarded when calculating the providers entitlement to means tested benefits i.e. the Providers supported lodgings allowance payment will not impact on claimable benefits.

Providers who offer placements to looked after 16 & 17 year olds will be able to claim qualifying care relief (QCR) as they are registered Foster Carers. This will result in Providers paying no income tax on their supported lodgings allowance. Providers claim QCR when they complete an annual tax return.

Providers who have a young person in placement who turns 18 years old will still be entitled to claim QTR however the young person, now an adult, is no longer classed as looked after by the authority but a care leaver.

For Providers whose young people have turned 18 whilst in residence the payment of £126.54 made by the Fostering Department is disregarded for benefit purposes (as this is a section 23c payment) i.e. if you are a benefit claimant this part of the allowance will not reduce your entitlement.

Where Housing Benefit is claimed by the young adult or they pay the £62.00 rent element from their earnings then this is counted as income for the Providers means tested benefits (i.e. this will affect means tested benefits). In these situations where the Provider is in receipt of a means tested benefit an amount equivalent to the Providers benefit reduction will be paid to them from section 23c. The section 23c payment is then disregarded (i.e. the Provider will have their benefits topped up from the Fostering Department to ensure they are no worse off).

Where Housing Benefit is paid to the young person, or they pay the rent element from their earnings, all non-section 23C payments regardless of their source will be counted as income under the ’Boarder’ rules. Under these rules the first £20.00 and 50% of the remainder is disregarded. For example, if a carer receives £188.54 per week in total for the Supported Lodgings arrangement of which £126.54 is paid by the local authority under section 23C and £62.00 is paid by the young person from Housing Benefit, the amount taken into account by the DWP will be £62.00.

Of the £62.00, £20.00 and a further £21.00 (50% of the £42.00) is disregarded, therefore the carer will be deemed to have a £21.00 per week income from the ‘Boarder’ (Supported Lodging arrangement) and they will lose £21.00 of their Income Support, income based Jobseekers Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance.

In circumstances where a young person receives maximum Housing Benefit, the full amount will need to be declared to the DWP and the DWP should then apply the ‘income from a boarder’ disregard.

For Providers who offer accommodation to a previously-looked after child now aged 18 plus (who haven’t turned 18 while they are living with them) they shall also be entitled to QCR. However in this circumstance all the allowance paid under section 23c will be taken into account when claiming means tested benefits (i.e. the full £188.54will be treated as income [although still non-taxable] and will affect your means tested benefits [rent A room income]). In this case the Fostering Department cannot make any additional payments to make up a short fall in means tested benefits (i.e. no disregard). Due to this situation it is unlikely that the Fostering Department will ask a Provider, known to be on means tested benefits, to provide a placement to a young person over 18 years old.

The Provider’s taxable income is included in the total household income that is used to assess the amount of tax credits that they are entitled to. So, where the carer is paid less than their tax free allowance, their income from caring for tax credits purposes is also nil.

It is recommended that Providers arrange a one to one discussion regarding benefits and/or income, an appointment with the Welfare Rights Worker for Leeds City Council can be arranged. This must be done via the Supported Lodgings Team.


10. Accommodation

As part of the assessment process, a Health and Safety Checklist will be completed and updated on a yearly basis. This includes the requirement that the provider should have an initial home safety inspection from West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, have a Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detector fitted.

The whole of the shared parts of the accommodation should be clean, warm, comfortable and decorated to a reasonable standard.

Each young person should have a room of their own that is large enough to comfortably accommodate a bed and drawers and/ a wardrobe, as well as the young person and their belongings.

The young person’s room should be furnished at least to a basic standard and should be in reasonable order/ condition.

The young person will have access to a kitchen, bathroom and laundry facilities.


11. Accessing the Scheme and Making a Referral

Referrals for the scheme can be made by the young person’s Social Worker via Mosaic using the Placement Request Form.

Referrals should be sent to the Placement Team who will then liaise with the specific Fostering Team where the Supported Lodgings Service will be based.


12. Making a Placement 

Placements will be made in a planned way enabling the best match of placement to be achieved and the provider and young person to be prepared for the move.

When a possible Supported Lodgings Placement has been identified for a young person as much information as possible will be shared with the provider about the young person’s history, needs and functioning. Written information should be provided where possible in the form of an up to date Looked After Review and / or Pathway Plan.

Information will be shared with the young person’s Social Worker/Personal Advisor about the provider’s experience, skills and living situation. Some of this information will be available on the Provider’s profile which will be available but the worker for the young person can speak directly to the Provider or meet them at this stage.

If both the Provider and the worker for the young person are happy to move to the next stage, appropriate information will then be shared with the young person about the Provider and arrangements made for the young person to meet the provider.

Following this meeting, feedback will be sought from the young person and the Provider to determine if the placement can proceed.

At the point of placement written information regarding the young person should be provided to the Provider. For all looked after young people, this is the same information as would be provided to any other carer/placement.

For Young People aged 18 and over, this will be a copy of the Pathway Plan and any Risk Assessments.

A Placement Planning Meeting must take place within 72 hours of the young person moving into the placement. Where possible and/or appropriate, this meeting will take place in advance of the placement or on the day the placement commences.

For all looked after young people, this meeting will finalise the Placement Plan, Living Together Agreement and Delegated Authority.

For care leavers, this meeting will confirm the purpose of the placement; the role of the Provider in preparing the young person for independence etc.

For all looked after young people, the placement will be reviewed as part of the Looked After Review Process.

For young people aged 18 and over, the placement will be reviewed as part of the Pathway Planning Process.

At this meeting the Living Together Agreement will be signed by the Young Person and Provider.


13. Ending a Supported Lodgings Placement  

Wherever possible, placements should end in a planned way in line with the planned length of placement and in keeping with the Pathway Planning for the young person.

If the Provider is considering bringing the placement to an end it is expected that they will discuss this in the first instance with their Support Worker. Depending on the circumstances a placement support meeting may be called to explore the situation and whether anything can be done to preserve the placement or whether it should be brought to an end in an agreed timescale.

A notice period of 28 days will be required.

End