Aftercare Support To Be Provided To Care Leavers
155. Section 29 of the 1995 Act outlines the type of support to be provided to care leavers eligible for Aftercare. Section 29(1) stipulates that local authorities shall 'advise, guide and assist' eligible young people.
156. 'Assistance' under this section of the 1995 Act is further specified in section 29(3), where it states that, subject to section 73(2) of the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001 (the 2011 Act), the assistance offered by a local authority under this section 29(1), (5A) or (5B) may include assistance 'in kind or in cash'.
157. Section 73(1) of the 2001 Act amends section 29 of the 1995 Act to include duties on local authorities to:
a) Carry out an assessment of the needs of young people who have
been looked after who they have a duty or power to advise, guide or
assist under section 29 (section 29(5));
b) Establish a procedure for considering representations, including complaints, made to them about the discharge of their functions under section 29 (section 29(6)).
158. Section 73(2) of the 2001 Act also gives Scottish Ministers a power to make Regulations about:
a) The manner in which assistance is to be provided under
section 29 to young people who have been looked after;
b) Who is to be consulted in relation to an assessment of needs;
c) The way an assessment is to be carried out, by whom and when;
d) The considerations to which the local authority are to have regard in carrying out an assessment;
e) The recording of the results of an assessment;
f) Procedures for considering representations including complaints.
159. That power was exercised in The Support and Assistance of Young People Leaving Care (Scotland) Regulations 2003 (as amended by The Support and Assistance of Young People Leaving Care (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2015).
160. From 1 April 2015 all care leavers aged nineteen and up to twenty-six years of age will be entitled to request assistance from their local authority. The local authority must undertake an assessment and, if the care leaver is assessed as having eligible needs which cannot be met by other means, the local authority must provide them with 'such advice guidance and assistance as it (the local authority) considers necessary for the purposes of meeting those needs' (section 29(5A)(a) of the 1995 Act as inserted by 66(2) of the 2014 Act).
Financial support towards education and training
161. The section 66(3) of the 2014 Act amends section 30 of the 1995 Act, which sets out when a local authority may give financial assistance towards the education or training expenses of young people who have ceased to be looked after.
162. From April 2015 the upper age to which this financial support can be requested is up until they reach the age of twenty-six (extended from the previous limit of twenty‑one). Closing the attainment gap is a key priority for the Scottish Government. Section 30 of the 1995 Act is a powerful tool in providing financial assistance and encouraging care leavers into further and higher education as well as training and employment. Section 30 payments should always be considered for care leavers irrespective of age and the type of care placement they have previously been provided with.
163. Section 30 of the 1995 Act (as amended by section 66 of the 2014 Act) sets out when local authorities may give financial assistance towards expenses of education or training to those who have left care:
a) A local authority may make grants to young people in their
area to enable them to meet expenses connected with relevant
education or training. (If they are over sixteen but not yet
, and were (on their sixteenth birthday
or at any subsequent time), but are no longer looked after by
a local authority).
b) A local authority may make contributions toward the living expenses (accommodation and maintenance) of a young person near to where they are employed, or seeking employment, or receiving education or training.
164. These changes allow for flexibility in a young person's route to adulthood. It allows for young people to engage with different options whilst recognising that looked after young people may particularly struggle at certain times during this transitional period as they grapple with new responsibilities and routines. The extension gives young people some space to discover the options that are most meaningful, relevant and rewarding for them. In practice, this should mean that young people are afforded the same opportunities as their non-looked after peers and, if necessary, to make repeated attempts to reach their full educational and employment potential.
165. An understanding of the sorts of issues faced by young people on their journey through education is crucial as there are many reasons why a looked after young person's educational experiences may not parallel those of their non-looked after peers.