12. Part 11 of the 2014 Act concerns itself with Continuing Care, which is a new status established by the 2014 Act and is a significant change to both legislation and policy in Scotland. It inserts a new section 26A into the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 (the 1995 Act) to place local authorities under a duty to provide Continuing Care in certain circumstances. Effectively it offers eligible young persons the entitlement to remain in their care setting up to their twenty-first birthday where they cease to be looked after by a local authority.
13. The principle of Continuing Care should be understood in the overall context of the Scottish Government's aims and objectives that are:
1) To address the inequalities between looked after children and their non-looked after peers by providing a stable home and ensuring that young people are not discharged from care until they are prepared and ready to leave;
2) To improve the assessment, preparation and planning for young people leaving care; and
3) To provide better personal support for young people after leaving care.
14. Local authorities have a duty, under section 17 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, to provide advice and assistance with a view to preparing children for when they cease to be looked after by them. Continuing Care is part of that continuum of care that better prepares looked after young people for successful transitions out of the looked after system, based on plans which reflect their needs and aspirations, backed up by consistent, personalised support from local authorities and other corporate parents.
15. Continuing Care is an opportunity to plan in a gradual way increasing independence at a rate and stage that suits the evolving capacity of the young person. The aim of the provision is to ensure that where it does not significantly adversely affect their welfare then all eligible looked after young people are encouraged, enabled and empowered to stay in an existing care placement until they are able to demonstrate their readiness and willingness to move on to interdependent living. Interdependence more accurately reflects the day to day reality of an extended range of healthy inter-personal relationships, social supports and networks.