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Children (Leaving Care) Bill [H.L.]
 
 

 
 
A

B I L L

TO

Make provision about children and young persons who are being, or have been, looked after by a local authority; to replace section 24 of the Children Act 1989; and for connected purposes.

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-
 

Further duties of local authorities towards children whom they are looking after.     1. In Part II of Schedule 2 to the Children Act 1989 ("the 1989 Act"), which contains provision as to children being looked after by local authorities, after paragraph 19 insert-
 
 

"Preparation for ceasing to be looked after
  19A. It is the duty of the local authority looking after a child to advise, assist and befriend him with a view to promoting his welfare when they have ceased to look after him.
 
  19B.- (1) A local authority shall have the following additional functions in relation to an eligible child whom they are looking after.
 
      (2) In sub-paragraph (1) "eligible child" means, subject to sub-paragraph (3), a child who-
 
 
    (a) is aged sixteen or seventeen; and
 
    (b) has been looked after by a local authority for a prescribed period, or periods amounting in all to a prescribed period, which began after he reached a prescribed age and ended after he reached the age of sixteen.
      (3) The Secretary of State may prescribe-
 
 
    (a) additional categories of eligible children; and
 
    (b) categories of children who are not to be eligible children despite falling within sub-paragraph (2).
      (4) For each eligible child, the local authority shall carry out an assessment of his needs with a view to determining what advice, assistance and support it would be appropriate for them to provide him under this Act-
 
 
    (a) while they are still looking after him; and
 
    (b) after they cease to look after him,
  and shall then prepare a pathway plan for him.
 
      (5) The local authority shall keep the pathway plan under regular review.
 
      (6) Any such review may be carried out at the same time as a review of the child's case carried out by virtue of section 26.
 
      (7) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision as to assessments for the purposes of sub-paragraph (4).
 
      (8) The regulations may in particular provide for the matters set out in section 23B(6).
 
 
Personal advisers
  19C. A local authority shall arrange for each child whom they are looking after who is an eligible child for the purposes of paragraph 19B to have a personal adviser.".
 
Additional functions of local authorities in respect of certain children.     2. - (1) The 1989 Act is amended as follows.
 
      (2) In section 22 (general duty of local authority in relation to children looked after by them), in subsection (1), at the end of paragraph (b) insert ", apart from functions under sections 23B and 24B".
 
      (3) In the heading before section 24, at the end insert "and young persons".
 
      (4) After that heading insert the following new sections-
 
 
"The responsible authority and relevant children.     23A. - (1) The responsible local authority shall have the functions set out in section 23B in respect of a relevant child.
 
    (2) In subsection (1) "relevant child" means (subject to subsection (3)) a child who-
 
 
    (a) is not being looked after by any local authority;
 
    (b) was, before last ceasing to be looked after, an eligible child for the purposes of paragraph 19B of Schedule 2; and
 
    (c) is aged sixteen or seventeen.
      (3) The Secretary of State may prescribe-
 
 
    (a) additional categories of relevant children; and
 
    (b) categories of children who are not to be relevant children despite falling within subsection (2).
      (4) In subsection (1) the "responsible local authority" is the one which last looked after the child.
 
      (5) If under subsection (3)(a) the Secretary of State prescribes a category of relevant children which includes children who do not fall within subsection (2)(b) (for example, because they were being looked after by a local authority in Scotland), he may in the regulations also provide for which local authority is to be the responsible local authority for those children.
 
Additional functions of the responsible authority in respect of relevant children.     23B. - (1) It is the duty of each local authority to take reasonable steps to keep in touch with a relevant child for whom they are the responsible authority, whether he is within their area or not.
 
      (2) It is the duty of each local authority to appoint a personal adviser for each relevant child (if they have not already done so under paragraph 19C of Schedule 2).
 
      (3) It is the duty of each local authority, in relation to any relevant child who does not already have a pathway plan prepared for the purposes of paragraph 19B of Schedule 2-
 
 
    (a) to carry out an assessment of his needs with a view to determining what advice, assistance and support it would be appropriate for them to provide him under subsection (8) or under section 24A or 24B; and
 
    (b) to prepare a pathway plan for him.
      (4) The local authority may carry out such an assessment at the same time as any assessment of his needs is made under any enactment referred to in sub-paragraphs (a) to (c) of paragraph 3 of Schedule 2, or under any other enactment.
 
      (5) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision as to assessments for the purposes of subsection (3).
 
      (6) The regulations may in particular make provision about-
 
 
    (a) who is to be consulted in relation to an assessment;
 
    (b) the way in which an assessment is to be carried out, by whom and when;
 
    (c) the recording of the results of an assessment;
 
    (d) the considerations to which the local authority are to have regard in carrying out an assessment.
      (7) The authority shall keep the pathway plan under regular review.
 
      (8) The responsible local authority shall safeguard and promote the child's welfare and, unless they are satisfied that his welfare does not require it, support him by-
 
 
    (a) maintaining him;
 
    (b) providing him with or maintaining him in suitable accommodation; and
 
    (c) providing support of such other descriptions as may be prescribed.
      (9) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision about the meaning of "suitable accommodation" and in particular about the suitability of landlords or other providers of accommodation.
 
      (10) If the local authority have lost touch with a relevant child, despite taking reasonable steps to keep in touch, they must without delay-
 
 
    (a) consider how to re-establish contact; and
 
    (b) take reasonable steps to do so,
  and while the child is still a relevant child must continue to take such steps until they succeed.
 
      (11) Subsections (7) to (9) of section 17 apply in relation to support given under this section as they apply in relation to assistance given under that section.
 
      (12) Subsections (4) and (5) of section 22 apply in relation to any decision by a local authority for the purposes of this section as they apply in relation to the decisions referred to in that section.
 
Continuing functions in respect of former relevant children.     23C. - (1) Each local authority shall have the additional duties set out in subsections (3) and (4) towards a person-
 
 
    (a) who has been a relevant child for the purposes of section 23A, and would be one if he were under eighteen; and
 
    (b) in relation to whom they were the last responsible authority.
      (2) The duties subsist until he reaches the age of twenty-one (or, if he is being given assistance or provided with accommodation under section 24B, until he ceases to be given assistance or provided with accommodation, if later).
 
      (3) The first duty is to take reasonable steps-
 
 
    (a) to keep in touch with him whether he is within their area or not; and
 
    (b) if they lose touch with him, to re-establish contact.
      (4) The other duties are-
 
 
    (a) to continue the appointment of a personal adviser for him; and
 
    (b) to continue to keep his pathway plan under regular review.".
Personal advisers and pathway plans.     3. In the 1989 Act, after section 23C insert-
 
 

"Personal advisers and pathway plans
Personal advisers.     23D. - (1) The Secretary of State may by regulations require local authorities to appoint a personal adviser for children or young persons of a prescribed description who have reached the age of sixteen but not the age of twenty-one who are not-
 
 
    (a) children who are relevant children for the purposes of section 23A;
 
    (b) the young persons referred to in section 23C; or
 
    (c) the children referred to in paragraph 19C of Schedule 2.
      (2) Personal advisers shall have such functions as the Secretary of State prescribes.
 
      (3) In this Part, references to personal advisers are to personal advisers within the meaning of this section.
 
Pathway plans.     23E. - (1) In this Part, a reference to a "pathway plan" is to a plan setting out-
 
 
    (a) in the case of a plan prepared under paragraph 19B of Schedule 2-
 
      (i) the advice, assistance and support which the local authority intend to provide a child under this Act both while they are looking after him and later under section 23B(8), 24A or 24B; and
 
      (ii) when they might cease to look after him; and
 
    (b) in the case of a plan prepared under section 23B, the advice, assistance and support which the local authority intend to provide under section 23B(8), 24A or 24B,
  and dealing with such other matters (if any) as may be prescribed.
 
      (2) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision about pathway plans and their review.".
 
Advice and assistance for certain children and young persons aged 16 or over.     4. - (1) For section 24 of the 1989 Act (advice and assistance for certain children), substitute the following sections-
 
 
"Persons qualifying for advice and assistance.     24. - (1) In this Part "a person qualifying for advice and assistance" means a person who-
 
    (a) is under twenty-one; and
 
    (b) at any time after reaching the age of sixteen but while still a child was, but is no longer, looked after, accommodated or fostered.
      (2) In subsection (1)(b), "looked after, accommodated or fostered" means-
 
 
    (a) looked after by a local authority;
 
    (b) accommodated by or on behalf of a voluntary organisation;
 
    (c) accommodated in a registered children's home;
 
    (d) accommodated for a consecutive period of at least three months-
 
      (i) by any Health Authority, Special Health Authority or local education authority, or
 
      (ii) in any residential care home, nursing home or mental nursing home or in any accommodation provided by a National Health Service trust; or
 
    (e) privately fostered.
      (3) Subsection (2)(d) applies even if the period of three months mentioned there began before the child reached the age of sixteen.
 
      (4) In the case of a person qualifying for advice and assistance by virtue of subsection (2)(a), it is the duty of the local authority which last looked after him to take such steps as they think appropriate to contact him at such times as they think appropriate with a view to discharging their functions under sections 24A and 24B.
 
      (5) In each of sections 24A and 24B, the local authority under the duty or having the power mentioned there ("the relevant authority") is-
 
 
    (a) in the case of a person qualifying for advice and assistance by virtue of subsection (2)(a), the local authority which last looked after him; or
 
    (b) in the case of any other person qualifying for advice and assistance, the local authority within whose area the person is (if he has asked for help of a kind which can be given under section 24A or 24B).
Advice and assistance.     24A. - (1) The relevant authority shall consider whether the conditions in subsection (2) are satisfied in relation to a person qualifying for advice and assistance.
 
      (2) The conditions are that-
 
 
    (a) he needs help of a kind which they can give under this section or section 24B; and
 
    (b) in the case of a person who was not being looked after by any local authority, they are satisfied that the person by whom he was being looked after does not have the necessary facilities for advising or befriending him.
      (3) If the conditions are satisfied-
 
 
    (a) they shall advise and befriend him if he was being looked after by a local authority or was accommodated by or on behalf of a voluntary organisation; and
 
    (b) in any other case they may do so.
      (4) Where as a result of this section a local authority are-
 
 
    (a) under a duty to advise and befriend a person, they may also give him assistance, and (in the case of a person falling within a prescribed description) must do so to the extent that his welfare requires it;
 
    (b) empowered to advise and befriend a person, they may also give him assistance.
      (5) The assistance may be in kind or, in exceptional circumstances, in cash.
 
      (6) Subsections (7) to (9) of section 17 apply in relation to assistance given under this section or section 24B as they apply in relation to assistance given under that section.
 
Employment, education and training.     24B. - (1) The relevant local authority may give assistance to any person who qualifies for advice and assistance by virtue of section 24(2)(a) by contributing to expenses incurred by him in living near the place where he is, or will be, employed or seeking employment.
 
      (2) The relevant local authority may give assistance to a person to whom subsection (3) applies by-
 
 
    (a) contributing to expenses incurred by the person in question in living near the place where he is, or will be, receiving education or training; or
 
    (b) making a grant to enable him to meet expenses connected with his education or training.
      (3) This subsection applies to any person who-
 
 
    (a) is under twenty-four; and
 
    (b) qualifies for advice and assistance by virtue of section 24(2)(a), or would have done so if he were under twenty-one.
      (4) Where a local authority are assisting a person under subsection (2) they may disregard any interruption in his attendance on the course if he resumes it as soon as is reasonably practicable.
 
      (5) Where the local authority are satisfied that a person to whom subsection (3) applies who is in full-time higher education needs accommodation during a vacation, they shall give him assistance by-
 
 
    (a) providing him with suitable accommodation then; or
 
    (b) paying him enough to enable him to secure such accommodation himself.
      (6) The Secretary of State may prescribe the meaning of "full-time higher education" and "vacation" for the purposes of subsection (5).
 
Information.     24C. - (1) Where it appears to a local authority that a person-
 
 
    (a) with whom they are under a duty to keep in touch under section 23B, 23C or 24; or
 
    (b) whom they have been advising and befriending under section 24A; or
 
    (c) to whom they have been giving assistance under section 24B,
  proposes to live, or is living, in the area of another local authority, they must inform that other authority.
 
      (2) Where a child who is accommodated-
 
 
    (a) by a voluntary organisation or in a registered children's home;
 
    (b) by any Health Authority, Special Health Authority or local education authority; or
 
    (c) in any residential care home, nursing home or mental nursing home or any accommodation provided by a National Health Service trust,
  ceases to be so accommodated, after reaching the age of sixteen, the organisation, authority or (as the case may be) person carrying on the home shall inform the local authority within whose area the child proposes to live.
 
      (3) Subsection (2) only applies, by virtue of paragraph (b) or (c), if the accommodation has been provided for a consecutive period of at least three months.".
 
 
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