Shared Lives Plus and the Fostering Network recognize the benefits of inter-generational practice. It is our view that intergenerational placements are of benefit to all parties.
Our principles of good practice are:
- The wishes and requirements of the individuals placed are central
- Good information must be provided to carers and hosts about Shared Lives and fostering requirements
- Carers/Hosts working for fostering and Shared Lives services will be offered support to be clear about their role with each person that they support
- There is a need to ensure that effective communication takes place between children’s and adults care management teams throughout the transition period
- There is a need for clear protocols governing the way in which the Fostering and Shared Lives services work together
- There is a need to avoid unnecessary duplication of processes and paperwork
- Good risk assessment and risk management is essential
There are many instances in which Shared Lives Hosts may find themselves assisting with the transition of young people from children’s to adult services. There are also instances where they may provide accommodation and support to both children placed through the Fostering Service and adults under Shared Lives. There are a number of different ways in which transitional and mixed child-adult placements arise:
- Foster carers who wish to become Shared Lives Hosts in order to facilitate a continuation of support into adult life to an individual child.
- Foster carers who are supporting siblings (that is children placed who are related to one another) or have other children of differing ages placed with them and wish to continue to support those siblings or other children after the age of 18. Shared Lives schemes will become involved when the oldest child reaches 18 but fostering will remain involved with the younger children.
- Foster carers who wish to accommodate siblings but where one or more are already 18+
- Short breaks carers/hosts approved to support both adults and children.
- Schemes that have developed a service for 16 – 18-year-olds in response to transition issues for this age group.
- Schemes that offer parent and baby placements
- Young people moving from other children’s services to adult services e.g. from residential care
- Shared Care arrangements running into adult life
For the transition from child to adult placement to take place effectively, and for mixed child-adult placements to be a positive experience for all parties, there should be jointly agreed protocols and procedures between children’s and adult services.
Mixed child-adult placements require particularly careful planning to take account of:
- the different legal status of children and adults
- the difference between the children and adults’ legislative frameworks
- the fact that separation between children’s services and adult services can cause significant communication difficulties
- the need to avoid unnecessary breakdowns in funding arrangements caused by a lack of forward planning for young people in foster care
By planning carefully, we can achieve stability of placements, a seamless transition into adulthood and clarity of information about payments.