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5.3 Pathway Planning


  1. Introduction
  2. Assessment of Need
  3. Pathway Plan
  4. Frequency of Reviews of the Pathway Plan
  5. Pathway Plan Procedure

1. Introduction

Caption: Introduction table
1. The Children (Leaving Care Act) 2000 places a duty on local authorities to carry out an assessment in respect of every eligible child in order to determine what advice, assistance and support (including financial support), should be provided, both whilst the young person is being looked after, and when he ceases to be looked after. Following the assessment, the local authority must prepare a Pathway Plan for the young person, and the plan must be kept under review.
2. The assessment and Pathway Plan must be in place for each 'Eligible' Young Person within 3 months of their 16th birthday, (or within 3 months of the date they become 'eligible' if this is later). In the case of a 'relevant' young person who does not already have a Pathway Plan, the timescale is within 3 months of becoming relevant.

Regulations specify:

  • How the local authority should carry out the assessment;
  • The matters which must be covered in the assessment;
  • Who must be consulted about the assessment;
  • The content of the Pathway Plan;
  • How the Pathway Plan is to be reviewed.

2. Assessment of Need

Caption: Assessment of Need
1. The assessment of the young person's needs under the leaving care legislation may be carried out at the same time as any other assessment being undertaken by the local authority. This can be important if the young person has particular needs requiring specialist assessment, for example if the young person is disabled or is a parent.

The principles underpinning an assessment carried out for Pathway Planning purposes are the same as those informing an assessment undertaken in accordance with Working Together to Safeguard Children. The pathway planning process should therefore build on any previous assessment and care plan prior to the young person becoming eligible or relevant, but with an emphasis on those areas required to support the young person through the transition to adulthood and independence. The regulations require that the following matters, in particular, are covered in the assessment:

  • Health and development;
  • Education, training or employment;
  • Support available from family members and other persons;
  • Financial needs;
  • Independent living skills;
  • Care, support and accommodation.
3. The responsibility for supporting care leavers is placed on local authorities as corporate bodies. Whilst children's social care services will take a lead role, there is a need to liaise with other agencies both internally and externally in order to ensure that the resources of relevant agencies are mobilised and the young person is effectively supported in all areas of their life. Pathway Planning should be seen as a multi-agency undertaking involving a range of agencies including housing; education; health; youth support services and Job centre Plus.

The regulations require that in carrying out an assessment the following individuals and agencies are also given the information specified above, and, when practicable, their views taken into account when undertaking the assessment:

  • The young person's parents;
  • Any person with Parental Responsibility;
  • Any person providing day to day care or accommodation (e.g. a foster carer);
  • Any school or college attended by the young person, or the local education authority;
  • Any Independent Visitor appointed for the young person;
  • Any person providing health care or treatment;
  • The Personal Adviser appointed for the young person;
  • Any other person whose views the local authority or the young person consider may be relevant.

The involvement of the young person in the Pathway Planning process is crucial and is specific requirement within the regulations. The Pathway Plan should be written in a way that meets the needs of the young person, capturing their aspirations and key messages. The young person's views must be sought and taken account at every stage i.e.

  • During the assessment- including their views about who else should be involved in the assessment. (Whilst the young person does not have the right to veto anyone's involvement, e.g. a parent, a balance needs to be maintained between respecting the young person's wishes and the risk of alienating him/her and the losing their co-operation);

  • In preparing the Pathway Plan;

  • In reviewing the plan.

The local authority must:

  • Facilitate the young person's attendance and participation in any meeting - this might involve arranging meetings at a time convenient for the young person and paying traveling expenses and subsistence costs, and taking account of any impairment which would make access to the meeting difficult;
  • Provide copies of the results of the assessment, the Pathway Plan and pathway plan review records - copies of information and records should be provided in a format which takes account of any communication or cognitive impairment;
  • Whenever practicable, explain the contents of the above documents in accordance with the young person's level of understanding.

3. Pathway Plan

Caption: Pathway Plan

The Pathway Plan is a document which sets out how the local authority proposes to meet the young person's assessed needs. It must be prepared as soon as possible after the assessment has been completed and must include timescales for carrying out any actions required to implement the plan. The content of the plan must include:

  • Any services being provided in respect of the young person’s disability or needs arising from being in custody or as a result of entering the country as an unaccompanied asylum seeker;
  • The plan for the young person’s continuing education or training when they cease to be looked after (where the young person is no longer of statutory school age, the Pathway Plan may need to incorporate the goals and actions that were previously included in the PEP);
  • How the ERYC will assist the young person in obtaining employment or other purposeful activity or occupation, taking into account their aspirations, skills and educational potential to improve their chance of employability;
  • The financial support to be provided to enable the young person to meet accommodation and maintenance costs; taking into account their financial capabilities and money-management capacity, along with strategies to develop skills in this area;
  • The nature and level of contact and personal support to be provided, and by whom, to the young person;
  • Details of the accommodation the young person is to occupy (including an assessment of its suitability in the light of needs, and details of the considerations taken into account in assessing that suitability);
  • Details of the arrangements made by the authority to meet the young person’s needs in relation to identity with particular regard to their religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background;
  • How practical self care skills are to be developed to enable the young person to live independently;
  • How the young person's health needs are to be met;
  • Contingency plans for action to be taken by the local authority should the Pathway Plan cease to be effective;
  • How practical self care skills are to be developed to enable the young person to live independently;
  • How the young person's health needs are to be met;
  • Contingency plans for action to be taken by the local authority should the Pathway Plan cease to be effective.

4. Frequency of Reviews of the Pathway Plan

Caption: Pathway Plan 2

The Pathway Plan must be reviewed:

  • At least every 6 months;
  • At the request of the young person;
  • At the request of the personal adviser.

If the Relevant Young Person or Former Relevant Young Person moves to ‘unregulated’ accommodation (i.e. accommodation that is not regulated/inspected by OFSTED), the Local Authority must:

  1. Arrange a review 28 days (or as soon as practicable thereafter) from the time the accommodation is provided; and
  2. Determine at what intervals (not exceeding 6 months) subsequent reviews will be carried out;
  3. Reviews should be brought forward where there is an assessed risk that a crisis may develop in a young person’s life, for example:
    • Where a young person has been charged with an offence and there is a possibility of their being sentenced to custody, which will risk losing their accommodation;
    • Where a young person is at risk of being evicted from their accommodation or otherwise threatened with homelessness;
    • Where professionals are concerned about the parenting capacity of a ‘relevant’ or Former Relevant’ young person with there being a possibility that their own child may need to be the subject of a multi-agency safeguarding plan;
    • Where a young person requests a review.
2. In the case of an eligible young person (i.e. a young person who is still looked after by the local authority) the Pathway Plan will take the place of the LAC Care Plan, and the review will be undertaken by a Children's Independent and Safeguarding Reviewing Officer (CISRO).
3. In the case of a relevant young person, or former relevant young person (i.e. a young person who is no longer looked after) the review will be undertaken by the Pathway team social worker / family support practitioner.
4. The same considerations in respect of involvement and consultation apply when making arrangements to review the Pathway Plan as apply to the original assessment of need (see key points 8 and 9). Those involved in the review should include the young person, the personal adviser and / or the case holder (if different). Attendance should also include anyone who is contributing to the implementation of the Pathway Plan or made a significant contribution to the assessment of need.


Where a Relevant or Former Relevant Young Person enters Custody


Where a Relevant or Former Relevant young person enters custody, pathway planning must continue. The young person must be visited on a regular basis and it is good practice for the first visit to take place within 10working days. The role must not be fulfilled by a YOT worker. The local authority must liaise with the YOT or Probation Provider to support the young person emotionally, practically and financially while in custody. A review of the Pathway Plan should be carried out at least a month before the young person’s release to give sufficient time to plan for their r resettlement, including identifying suitable accommodation where the young person’s placement had to be given up or has been lost and identifying who will collect the young person and the sources of support after their release.

5. Pathway Plan Procedure

  1. As detailed above, the initial needs assessment and Pathway Plan will be undertaken by the Pathway Team social worker, in conjunction with the Childcare Team social worker. The assessment will include a Single Assessment of financial need and their National Insurance number. The young person will be central to this process, and the manner in which it is undertaken will be tailored to their individual needs and circumstances;
  2. A variety of assessment tools will be available to be used in the completion of the plan, including self-assessment questionnaires. The social worker will ensure these are used where appropriate, and sections of the plan may be completed with the young person by carers, residential workers, LAC Health co-ordinator or youth advisor;
  3. Authorisation for expenditure will be obtained as per the Scheme of delegations. No payments can be set up without the appropriate level of agreement;
  4. The completed Needs Assessment and Pathway Plan will be shared with the young person by the Pathway Team social worker. If the young person is in agreement with the plan they should sign it and retain a copy. It will be agreed individually with the young person who else is to receive a copy;
  5. The plan also includes a 'Consent to Information Sharing' section which the Pathway Team social worker should fully explain to the young person, who will then be asked to sign - having confirmed who information can be shared with. These signatures and consents will be reviewed every 6 months;
  6. The Pathway Plan will be reviewed at a minimum interval of every 6 months. For those young people who are looked after (eligible) this will be done alongside their LAC review, as the Pathway Plan replaces the Care Plan. For those young people who are 'relevant' or 'former relevant' the review will be undertaken with their Pathway Team social worker or family support practitioner and any other individual it is appropriate to include;
  7. The Pathway Plan will be reviewed and updated if there is a significant change of circumstances for the young person, and the support plan revised accordingly.