Managing the End of a Continuing Care Placement
106. A young person can choose to leave Continuing Care at any point and no compulsion to return to the care placement should be brought to bear although, where it is felt that Continuing Care continues to best meet the needs of the young person and to keep them safe, practitioners will wish to make this clear and discuss this with young people.
107. The duty to provide Continuing Care ceases when the young person leaves the placement of their own free will (section 26A(7)(a) of the 1995 Act). They cannot return to a Continuing Care placement under section 26A of the 1995 Act. This should not preclude local authorities considering other suitable options appropriate to the young person's needs. This should include re-accommodating the young person under section 29 (Aftercare) of the 1995 Act (as amended by the 2014 Act) or section 25 of the 1995 Act, if necessary.
108. It may be that young people on their first attempt at independent living fail to cope with the many responsibilities of living away from home. They may have left too early or underestimated the complexities of being independent. It is incumbent on all local authorities to consider the variety of ways that these young people can be helped. It may be through section 25 of the 1995 Act in alternative accommodation or if the Continuing Care placement or looked after placement is still available, there is no reason why the young person cannot return to it as accommodation provided under section 29 (Aftercare) of the 1995 Act.
109. The duty to provide Continuing Care may also cease if the accommodation in which the young person is staying ceases to be available (section 26A(7)(b) of the 1995 Act). Section 26A(8) elaborates further on the situations in which accommodation ceases to be available. In the case of a care placement, this can be where the carer indicates to the authority that the carer is unable or unwilling to continue to provide the placement (section 26A(8)(a)). In the case of a residential establishment provided by the local authority, this can be where the authority closes the establishment (section 26A(8)(b)). In the case of a residential establishment provided under arrangements made by the local authority, where the arrangements come to an end (section 26A(8)(c)).
110. For whatever reason it ceases, once the Continuing Care placement comes to an end the local authority is still under a duty to assess the young person for Aftercare support (by virtue of section 29(5) of the 1995 Act) and, if the young person applying for support is deemed to have eligible needs which cannot otherwise be met, the local authority is under a duty to provide the young person with such advice, guidance and assistance as it considers necessary for the purposes of meeting those needs (potentially up to their twenty-sixth birthday).
111. A local authority has a duty to provide Aftercare support to all young people leaving care after they turn sixteen until their nineteenth birthday (section 29(1) of the 1995 Act, as amended by the 2014 Act). Care leavers who are at least nineteen but less than twenty-six years of age may apply to their local authority to seek Aftercare support by virtue of section 29(2) of the 1995 Act (as amended by the 2014 Act). As described in the previous paragraph, if such a young person making an application is assessed and found to have eligible needs that cannot otherwise be met, the local authority is under a duty to the young person with such advice, guidance and assistance as it considers necessary for the purposes of meeting those needs (potentially those services up to their twenty-sixth birthday) (section 29(5A)(a) of the 1995 Act). Even if the young person is not found to have such eligible needs, a local authority has the discretion to provide such advice, guidance and assistance as it considers appropriate having regard to the person's welfare (section 29(5A)(b)). A local authority may also, but it is not legally required to, provide Aftercare to a care leaver beyond the age of twenty-six years old (see section 29(5B)).