The Lioncare Group has one aim: To improve the lives and prospects of the children and young people in our care.
We firmly believe in the importance to children and young people of a sense of continuum in the care and support they receive. Our extensive experience of caring for children and young people has shown us the potential harm that can occur through poor planning and misinformed decision-making around the ending of placements.
The current financial and economic pressures on local authorities to make cost efficiency savings raises serious implications for the level of consideration that will be given to the benefit of Out-Reach and After-Care support provided by the adults that have been caring for the child or young person and with whom the child or young person has established a trusting working relationship.
The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 Guidance and Regulations states:
These other agencies will include those who are caring for young people, who might be encouraged to assume responsibility for preparing the young people they are caring for, for the time when they leave care (voluntary organisations and children’s homes do, of course, have a duty to do this). Local authorities will also wish to encourage them to provide aftercare for young people who have left their care.
We offer every child or young person leaving our care with the necessary ongoing support and assistance to enable them to successfully move to their next placement, or leave the care system, and be able to look back and view their stay with us as a positive, rewarding, meaningful, and integrated stage of their journey through childhood to adolescence and into adulthood. We aim to support the child or young person during the transition period between placements and beyond, through close co-operation and liaison between their current carers and their allocated key worker.
Indeed, The Lioncare Group has for many years provided planned and structured programs of Out-Reach and After-Care to all children and young people who have moved on from our care. The program initially allows for twice weekly visits to the child or young person by the key worker, for the purpose of assisting them through the transition period between placements, maintain continuity of important attachments the child or young person has formed whilst in our care, and support them in establishing positive relations with their new carers.
Similarly, the Registered Manager meets with the new carers to offer support, guidance and practical advice where requested on ways to best care for the child or young person, strategies that have previously proven effective, help in gaining an understanding or awareness of the emotional factors underlying aspects of the child’s behaviour or actions, and opportunities for sharing with the new carers aspects of the child’s developmental history and memorable experiences allowing the new carers to take responsibility for ‘keeping these real’ for the child or young person.
The transition program can last for between 6 – 12 weeks depending on the wishes of the child or young person, the placing authority, the new carers, and the foster support team. The frequency of outreach visits decreases in a planned way over the duration of the programme and finish with a celebratory meal for the child or young person that marks the formal ending and ‘handover’ of their out-reach care by adults from The Lioncare Group, and celebrates the start of their new life with their foster family.
Westfields and Hillfields have together developed a more comprehensive programme of out-reach and after care for young people leaving the care system and moving to semi-independent (or rather, Interdependent) living in their community. Through appropriate discussion and agreement by all parties, our 18+ Supported Accommodation Programme is tailored to meet the individual needs of each young person leaving Westfields or Hillfields, and to the wishes of the placing authority. The programme offers the young person their own accommodation (a property purchased by The Lioncare Group and offered to the young person on the basis of a ‘licence to occupy’) with ongoing adult domiciliary support and guidance, both emotionally and in terms of practical assistance, in managing interdependent living. It runs for a minimum of 12 months, with adult support hours gradually reducing in frequency and duration over the course of the programme. It is presented as a separate care package or service that can be purchased by the placing authority.