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Planning for leaving care (Part 1)

Recommendations for developing leaving care plans (Part 1)
Two hands are together with their palms facing upwards. Resting on the palms is a piece of pink paper with a basic pencil drawing of a person with a red dot on its chest. You can tell the hands belong to a girl because she is wearing colored bracelets.
© UNICEF (UN043101) Rich

In previous course steps we have thought about the move from care into semi-independent and independent living. We also considered some of the issues that are important to care leavers and the challenges they might face – including those outlined in course step 6.3.

Developing plans for leaving care with unaccompanied and separated children is a way of helping them prepare for the move and address their fears and concerns. Carefully assessing their needs, circumstances, and wishes just as we did when they first came into care, will help inform leaving care plans.

What we will consider over the next few course steps is recommendations for developing leaving care plans to a standard we would wish for all unaccompanied and separated children. We realise that meeting these recommendations to the full will require an investment of time and resources. It is also recognised how there may be a lack of the necessary trained personnel as well as other resources and services that a young care leaver requires. Perhaps it will not be feasible to follow these recommendations when a child is moving after having spent only a few days in your care. You may be in the midst of an acute crisis, with large numbers of children arriving and leaving. However, we would still urge you to consider the importance of the following guidance and encourage you to provide the best support possible for those leaving care within your particular local setting.

When preparing such plans, we should take care not to create false hopes and expectations. Any form of leaving care planning – whether detailed or rapid plans – should reflect the reality of the child’s situation and support that can actually be made available.

We will now consider some of the steps in preparing leaving care plans with unaccompanied and separated children.

If your role is to support care leavers, we suggest you work with them to develop a leaving care plan. We are calling this a Pathway Plan because leaving care should not just be an abrupt moment on the day the care leaver leaves their care placement. Leaving care is ideally a series of steps they will take towards independent living.

A Pathway Plan should:

  • Take into full consideration the care leaver’s individual circumstances and identified needs
  • Plan for the support to be provided before during and after they leave care
  • Address both necessary practical skills as well as emotional support that can be most critical to young people

The Pathway Plan should become a written document that you and the care leaver agree on. The Plan should:

  • Assess and identify the strengths, needs, goals and aspirations of the care leaver while preparing to leave their care placement, any period of semi-independence, and transition through to fully independent living
  • Provide clear information about the support that will be provided and the services they can access
  • Name the people responsible for providing/facilitating support and services
  • Specify, over a realistic period, how goals and actions identified in the Pathway Plan will be regularly monitored and reviewed, and how necessary changes will be made, and by whom

Let us also remember the course steps in Week 2 that explained the importance of building a trusting and caring relationship and making sure unaccompanied and separated children are able to participate in decisions being made.

This diagram helps illustrate the steps to prepare and implement a Pathway Plan: Pathway Plan Steps: A circular diagramme. At the top are the words 'Engage with and get to know the care leaver'. There is an arrow pointing down the circle to the words 'Explore issues together with the care leaver'. Another arrow pointing down to 'Gather information' and another arrow pointing down and across to the bottom of the circle with the words 'Develop a clear picture of the care leavers' needs, wishes and aspirations now and for the future'. Another arrow pointing across and upwards of the circle with the words 'Identify resources and supports that are available while preparing to leave care and for after-care'. The arrow now points up the other side of the circle to the words 'Develop the Pathway Plan' and then to almost the top of the circle again to the words 'Remain flexible and regularly review progress with an arrow pointing back to the start of 'Engage with and get to know the care leaver'

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Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children

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