The Personal Advisor
A foster carer’s guide to the role and responsibilities of the young person’s Personal Advisor (PA)
1. Introduction to the role and responsibilities of the young person’s Personal Advisor (PA)
When a child enters care they are allocated a social worker. When they turn 16, they will be introduced to a personal adviser (PA) who will work alongside their social worker until they reach the age of 18. Once they turn 18, their PA becomes their worker and they will no longer have an allocated social worker.
The Local Authority is required to provide Personal Advisors to care leavers. This is under section 3 of the Children & Social Work Act 2017.
A new law was introduced in February 2018 which requires them to offer PA support to all care leavers up to the age of 25, irrespective of whether they are engaged in education or training.
2. The role and responsibilities of the Personal Advisor
A personal adviser has the following functions:
- To provide advice (including practical advice) and support, where applicable, to participate in the assessment and the preparation of the pathway plan.
- To participate in reviews of the pathway plan.
- To liaise with the responsible authority in the implementation of the pathway plan.
- To coordinate the provision of services, and to take reasonable steps to ensure that the child or care leaver makes use of such services and that they are appropriate to their needs.
- To remain informed about the child or care, leavers, progress and wellbeing.
- To keep a written record of contacts with, and services provided to, the child or care leaver.
- In addition, where accommodation is provided to the young person by the local authority (under section 23B or section 24B) the Personal Advisor must visit the young person at that accommodation.
- For care leavers aged 18 to 21, the PA will make contact with them every eight weeks.
- The PA does not play a part in writing the assessment process of the pathway plan.
- The PA will need to be able to establish a rapport with care leavers and take their views into account when taking forward plans for their support.
- The PA should make contact with the young person at 8 weekly intervals.
3. Foster Carers and Personal Advisors – working together
Foster carers and Personal Advisors must work closely together in the interests of the child or young person, during foster care and beyond as many carers continue to care for young people post 18yrs through arrangements such a staying put or shared lives. A good and cohesive working relationship between the young person’s foster carers and the PA is paramount, just as it is with any other professionals in the team around the child.
The PA should be introduced to children and young people in foster care at 16yrs when the Pathway Plan is first introduced.
You can see more details in FosterWiki’s ‘Pathway Plan’ and ‘Staying Put’ pages.
The PA’s role at this point is to introduce themselves to the child or young person so that they get to know them for when their role becomes more full time for them as they turn 18yrs.
It is recognised in fostering provider’s policies across the UK that where a young person has developed a trusting relationship with a carer that it should be possible for the local authority to delegate aspects of the PA function to them, as it will be in young people’s interests to build on the positive relationships that they have already established.
Another important part of the regulations is, that although the PA will be expected to respect a young person’s wishes and feelings it does not mean automatically agreeing with all of their views. The PA must make their own professional judgment about the child’s best interests.
Both for them whilst they are in care and as care leavers. Where young people’s wishes and feelings appear to be in conflict with the PA’s informed professional view of their best interests, then the PA will have a responsibility to negotiate with the young person about a reasonable way forward.
Foster carers should work closely with the PA and vice versa, this is not to undermine either the relationship with the child or young person but to respect it. Foster carers work closely with PA’s to encourage engagement in the relationship as it will be pivotal post 18yrs, however, if the relationship breaks down or the young person does not engage with the PA regulations state that there will be a need to consider offering the young person another PA.
As foster carers we ask that PA’s keep us informed and work with us as a team, respecting that we most likely know the child or young person in much greater depth than anyone else, this will of course take into account the relationship, length, strength and stability of placement.
When and if a child leaves the foster carers and moves into new accommodation the PA must see them in the accommodation within 7 days of the move, then after 28 days and then at no less than 2 monthly intervals. This is a minimum, where the care leavers develop problems they will require more help and more visits. All visits must be recorded.
Both the PA and the foster carer should be informed as to their local authority’s ‘Local Offer’ for care leavers, which you can find here.
4. The Personal Advisor in legislation
There is no prescribed professional or occupational qualification in the legislation determining which professional should carry out the PA function for any individual care leaver. However, a PA should normally possess or be working towards a professional qualification.
Although the legislation does not lay down any formal qualifications, the guidance states that they should possess an understanding of a young persons growth and development in particular the challenges and insecurities faced by looked after children as they make their transition to adulthood, and understanding the legal framework affecting care leavers.
They should have been informed of the following, regulations, statutory requirements, legal awareness and assessment skills. They should have good communication with the young people and their families, have intervention skills, monitor their health needs, value diversity, economic and social needs.
The PA will also participate in the assessment, preparation and review of the pathway plan. The PA should take a negotiating role on behalf of the care leaver, essentially to act as an advocate or representative of the young person in their dealings with the Local Authority.
Supervision – Personal Advisers are supervised by managers and staff within the Leaving Care Service.
5. Information, Help and Support
Help and support created for foster carers, by foster carers, we are the experts by experience. We have the first foster carers knowledge bank.
Please find our help and support page here.
Access both the open pages and members area. Both are free to access and footprint-free. The member’s area gives you privileged confidential access to FosterWiki’s experts by experience for advice and guidance. You will also find short courses and guides from the foster carer’s perspective, top tips, allegation help, templates, and the ability to add to FosterWiki. With more content being uploaded regularly.
Please let us know what information or advice pages you would find useful and we will put them in place. https://fosterwiki.com/register/
- FosterWiki – Pathway Plan
- FosterWiki – Staying Put
- FosterWiki – Local Care Offer
- FosterWiki – Care Standards Act 2000
- FosterWiki – Children and social work act
- Extending Personal Advisor support to the age of 25
- Care leavers charter
- The Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010
- The Children Act 2o04 Guidance and Regulations
- The Children (Scotland) Act 1995