Our Implications of Continuing Care focus group meets on a quarterly basis and brings together members from many different organisations; local authority teams; independent care providers; and charities. In January, we gathered in Edinburgh to examine what good practice looks like in the provision of Continuing Care, and were joined by David Hannigan, Looked After Children Team Leader, and Elspeth Hough, Head of the Looked After Children Unit, both from the Scottish Government.

Here are just four key outcomes from our conversation.

Despite financial pressures, our members are doing great work to deliver Continuing Care.

The group shared some great examples of good practice. Despite pressure on budgets across the country, some great work is being done to help young people to stay in their existing placements. For example, Dundee City Council plans well in advance to create personalised transition plans for young people.

Early but flexible planning is key to ensuring smooth transitions to independence.

In order to hear about Continuing Care processes which demonstrate best practice, we invited Kimberley Hankin to share Fife Council’s approach to the provision of Continuing Care. Throughout her presentation, Kimberley emphasised strong planning and the regular review of young people’s plans, so that everyone knows what their next step is and placements can be ended when young people are ready for independent living. She also stated that step one of the Continuing Care process is to talk to the young person about their needs and how they feel, putting them right at the centre of the planning process.

More guidance is required on the SAAS Care Experienced Bursary.

Discussions turned to the introduction of the new SAAS bursary for care-experienced students. The group agreed that the principle behind the bursary was admirable, but it arrived so quickly that few organisations had been able to make plans to respond, and there is a lack of guidance on exactly what the money should be spent on.

The Care Leavers Law Service can provide specialist advice and representation for care leavers.

We also heard from Julia Donnelly from Clan Childlaw, who introduced us to their new Care Leavers Law Service. This service will provide specialist advice and representation for care leavers. Julia emphasised that while Clan Childlaw is willing to help young people to challenge decisions in court, their aim is to prevent cases from going that far, by providing training and advice to those who work with young people in Continuing Care which emphasises their legal rights. You can find more information about the service here.

Not only do our focus groups give practitioners the power to influence our policy (see our Implications of Continuing Care report here) but they also provide an opportunity for people to meet face-to-face, and share their experiences of working in this challenging but rewarding sector. Be the first to know about our next focus groups by signing up to our Newsletter here.