Katie's Story - Continuing Care on a Permanence Order
Katie is approaching her 16th birthday in six weeks’ time. She has been in living with foster carers Bob and Helen on a Permanence Order for seven years. She calls Bob and Helen her mum and dad, she feels loved and cared for and this is her home. She’s doing well at school, and hopes to go to university when she’s older. However, she has just been told by her social worker that when she turns 16 her Permanence Order will ’run out’ and she will have to sign a S.25 Voluntary Agreement if she wants to stay where she is, in continuing care. She’s never heard about any of this before. She also overheard an upsetting phone conversation between Helen and the social worker about a ‘reduction in fees and allowances’ when she’s in continuing care. She is really worried, doesn’t understand what this means, and thinks that Bob and Helen won’t be able to look after her anymore.
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Katie is entitled to Continuing Care. Katie is being ‘looked after away from home’ and will be on and after her 16th birthday so will be eligible for continuing care up to 21 years.
Important things to remember
- Permanence Orders (POs) are granted by a court to safeguard (keep safe) a child or young person who will not be returning home. A Permanence Order means a child is not part of the Children’s Hearing System anymore, and unless the court needs to change this, this will be the situation until the child reaches their 18th birthday. A Permanence Order can allow foster carers (and others caring for children) to have some or all of the parental rights and responsibilities needed to make day-to-day decisions affecting the life of the child they care for.
- Katie’s PO does not ‘run out’ at 16. At 16, Katie does have certain new rights though, for example, getting a moped licence, getting married or choosing where to stay. The local authority’s responsibilities towards Katie still continue until 18 unless she doesn’t want that to happen.
- As Katie is ‘looked after away from home’, will be on and after her 16th birthday, she is eligible for continuing care up to 21 years. Katie doesn’t have to ‘request’ to stay and doesn’t have to sign any legal agreement to stay there either. This is her home. If Katie wants to stay and Bob and Helen want to care for her as she continues to grow up to be a young adult, then the local authority has a legal duty to support this.
- The only reason that the local authority would have for not supporting this is if they believed that Katie remaining with Bob and Helen would be damaging to Katie’s wellbeing. That would need to be shown in a Welfare Assessment, and Katie and Bob and Helen should be fully involved in that assessment.
- Katie should not have to worry about any change in fees and allowances paid to Bob and Helen. This is for the local authority and Bob and Helen to sort out. There is government guidance that says any changes in financial support to Bob and Helen needs to be agreed in a way that doesn’t destabilise how and where Katie is living and wants to stay.
- Katie might find it reassuring to speak to someone about her rights and future wishes and she is entitled to speak to an independent advocacy worker and she can get legal advice before she agrees to or signs anything. She is also entitled to change her mind about what she wants.
Find information about your right to continuing care and see the other stories here
Continuing Care and Your Rights is a project co-created with care experienced young people, CELCIS, Clan Childlaw and the Care Inspectorate, with the assistance and expertise of visual artist Ciara Waugh and Liminal Studios and Edinburgh Napier University in developing the digital media resources.
You can feedback on the information and resources here.
If you are not happy with the level of care you are receiving, we would encourage you to first of all speak to the care service itself about your concerns. This is often the quickest way to resolve a problem. However, you can choose to complain directly to the Care Inspectorate either by: filling in our complaints form online, calling us on 0345 600 9527 or emailing us here. Children and young people can send a text directly to 07870 981 785.
Scottish Child Law Centre
If you are under 21 and want to talk to someone about how the law affects you, our advice line is open Monday to Friday 9.30am – 4pm. You can contact us anytime or you may wish to call us during our dedicated Youth Hour which takes place every Tuesday and Thursday between 12pm and 1pm. During this time, our solicitors only take calls from children and young people. Call free on: 0800 328 8970 (from landlines) or 0300 3301421 (from mobiles).
Clan Child law
Anyone, of any age, anywhere in Scotland, can call Clan Childlaw with a question about children’s rights and about how the law and legal systems in Scotland work for children and young people. Clan Childlaw has a team of lawyers who can represent children and young people in court, in children’s hearings, and in important meetings. You can call free on 0808 129 0522, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. Or online here.
Who Cares? Scotland
If you’re a care experienced young person and you need advocacy support or someone to talk to, contact Who Cares? Scotland by phoning 0330 107 7540 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The Helpline is open Monday-Friday, 12pm-4pm.