Placement in Supported Lodgings
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter sets out Kirklees Council's Supported Lodgings Policy. It covers the recruitment, assessment, support and review of Supported Lodgings Carers 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.
1. Aims of the Scheme
The Kirklees Supported Lodging 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.
It is recognised that (a) this provision is unregulated and (b) will be offered to young people over the age of 18 years as part of their transition into adulthood.
Young people who become Looked After at aged 16 and 17 may also be appropriately placed with supported lodgings providers.
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.
2. The Target Group
Supported Lodgings is a resource for Children in Care and Care Leavers aged between 16-21 (25 if in education) 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.
3. 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.
4. Supported Lodgings Providers and What they Offer
4.1 Who can be a Supported Lodgings Provider?
Children in Care 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 can be of any age, 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.
4.2 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 Advisers, Careers Adviser, 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.
4.3 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:
- A home-like environment and domestic routine consistent with the young person engaging in education, training or work
- Some meals- this should reduce in frequency as the young person becomes increasingly more independent and prepares meals for themselves
- 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
- 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
5. Wider Expectations of the Supported Lodgings Provider Role/ Task
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 day to day lives with young people placed with them and some of the particular incidents that happen.
Each Provider's Supervising Social Workers 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 Adviser, 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.
6. Approval and Reviews of Supported Lodgings Providers
An enquiry is made by a prospective provider, initially to the Recruitment Team within the Family Placement Unit. Basic information and background details will be taken.
Contact will be made with the prospective provider by a social worker from the Supervisory Teams to gather some further information to determine if an Initial Visit is warranted or to establish if there are clear reasons not to pursue the enquiry. This contact will address the provider's relevant experience and motivation; if the prospective provider has had any dealings with Children's Social Care in relation to their own family and the nature of these and if the prospective provider has a spare room to be used solely for the young person in placement.
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 it is appropriate for an Initial Visit; the nature of the initial visit will be explained to the prospective provider and arrangements will be made to carry out this visit.
During the Initial 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 Initial Visit will be passed to the Manager/s of the Supportive Lodgings Scheme with a recommendation from the social worker as to whether to progress the application or not and the reasoning.
Within 5 days of the Initial Visit, 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 within 5 working days and the necessary checks will be initiated.
The time frame from initial Enquiry to Approval will be a maximum of 8 weeks.
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 i.e. 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.
Evidence may be in many forms including:
- 2 References will be required-at least one from outside of the family and where the prospective provider has experience of working in a child setting, a reference will be sought from their employer;
- Personal accounts from others regarding the applicant's experience;
- Observations of the applicant with young people;
- Exercises undertaken during the assessment;
- Attendance at training.
Once the assessment is concluded, a report will be compiled by the assessing social worker detailing the prospective provider's experience and understanding of looked after young people and care leavers; provide evidence of their particular skills, strengths and vulnerabilities and include a recommendation as to whether the prospective provider should be approved as a Supported Lodgings Provider or not and the reasons for this.
If the recommendation is positive, a recommendation should also be made as to the number of young people the applicant might offer support and accommodation to.
The report must be signed off by a Manager and the decision regarding approval of a Supportive Lodgings Provider rests with the Family Placement Unit Manager who will meet with the assessing social worker and Manager.Following approval, 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 Advisers. 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 Supervising Social Worker and a Reviewing Officer from the Family Placement Unit.
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 Advisers and young people regarding the placements provided within the review period.
The Supervising Social Worker will complete a report detailing how the year 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. The review will then be passed to the Team/Deputy Team Manager for comments and ratification.
7. Training, Support and Supervision for Supported Lodgings Providers
Supported Lodgings Providers will be provided with a range of training as part of their induction and ongoing development. There will be an expectation that providers attend specified essential training. Further training will be identified through Supervisory Visits and Annual Reviews.
Once approved, providers can access the same range of training provision available to the Service's Foster Carers.
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.
The Supported Lodgings Provider will have an allocated Supervising Social Worker from the Family Placement Unit. 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 Supervising Social Worker will visit the Supported Lodgings Provider at least every 6 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 Supervising Social 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 12 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 Adviser or the Supervising Social 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.All Kirklees Supported Lodgings Providers will have their membership paid to Foster Talk- a national organisation that offers advice, information, support to foster and other carers.
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.
Accessing Support or Advice Out of Office Hours
Out of office hours, Providers can contact the Foster Carer Support Service on 07866635147 and the Emergency Duty Service on 01484 414933.
Please see above information on the "buddy" system- as it may be appropriate for an experienced carer to offer this support.
Supported Lodgings Providers will be paid a weekly fee for each young person in placement. The allowance paid to Supported Lodgings Providers is based on a percentage of the Fostering Allowance for young people aged 16+ plus an additional payment to the carer, equivalent to Fostering Skill Level One, in recognition of their skills and contribution towards the outcomes for the Young Person.
The percentage applied to the Fostering Allowance is based on guidance from the Fostering Network in relation to how a Fostering Allowance should be used by the carer. It takes into account the contribution that should be given to these costs by the young person in Supported Lodgings arrangements. Therefore, the clothing, transport and personal elements of the allowance are removed to leave 48% of the Fostering Allowance. See tables below:
The Supported Lodgings Provider will not be expected to give the young person a Clothing Allowance, Pocket Money, Holiday Allowance, Birthday or Festival Allowances.
However, the young person may have entitlement to these allowances as outlined in the Financial Guidance for Children in Care and Care Leavers. Payment will be made directly to the Young Person or to the Supported Lodgings Provider if appropriate.
The young person will always make a contribution to the agreed maximum weekly allowance for their "board" which will be a minimum of £20 per week dependent on their allowances, grants, bursaries, benefits or income in line with Financial Guidance for Children in Care and Care Leavers.
The young person will make their contribution directly to the Supported Lodgings Provider in order to support the young person developing financial responsibility.
When a young person is placed, details of payments to be made will be agreed as part of the Placement Planning Meeting.
The Supported Lodgings Provider will need to seek individual financial advice on the impact of providing a Supported Lodgings Placement to a young person on their own benefits or income which includes the following:
- Housing Benefit
- Council Tax and Council Tax Benefit
- Income Tax and National Insurance
- Pension Credits
At aged 18, depending on their circumstances young people may be entitled to Income support and/ or Housing Benefit or other benefits. Young people who are entitled to these benefits need to be encouraged and helped to claim them. At aged 18 + the "board" element of payment to providers will come from this source.
Once approved, providers must have household insurance that recognises that they provide Supported Lodgings Placements.
Supported Lodgings Providers will receive their weekly payment (both components) only when they have a young person in placement. The equivalent to the Skills Level Payment of their allowance will be paid when the provider is not providing a placement.
Providers may be entitled to payment for up to 4 "holiday" weeks per year payment for which will be at 50% of their usual rate.
Provider can qualify for this payment after 12 months of approval. This benefit will be paid only to those providers that have had a young person in placement for 80% of the previous 12 months.
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 a Gas Safety Certificate, 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.
10. Accessing the Scheme and Making a Referral
Agreement to access the scheme will be via Commissioning Panel following on from a Needs Assessment as part of the young person's Pathway Plan.
Referrals for the scheme can be made of the Placement Request Form. Commissioning Panel can be booked via the Panel Administrator.
A copy of the referral should also be sent to the Placement Team. This should be done prior to obtaining Commissioning Panel approval. This is to allow the team time to consider the request at the earliest opportunity. No placement will be offered until the Commissioning Panel give approval.
11. 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 Pathway Plan.
Information will be shared with the young person's social worker/Personal Adviser about the provider's experience, skills and living situation. Some of this information will be available on the carer/provider 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 carer/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 as soon as practicable. Where possible and/or appropriate, this meeting should 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/Agreement and Delegated Authority (n.b. Placement Plans should be prepared within 5 working days of the placement).
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 a tenancy/ placement agreement will be signed by the young person and Provider.
12. 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 Supervising Social Worker. Depending on the circumstances a Placement Planning 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.