Who is a care leaver?

1. Introduction

If you are going to be leaving care soon, or if you have just left care, you will probably have a lot of questions. It can seem like there is a lot to think about and living independently can feel like quite a challenge.

We will explain everything you need to know about the help and support you can get from us and will answer some of the questions you might have about what to do once you have left care. Take a look at our After Care Pledge, created by We Do Care in collaboration with care leavers.

If you would like to print any of the information here, you can download printable copies from the bottom of each page.

We've also included links to websites that are full of free advice for young people.

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2. Who is a care leaver?

A care leaver is a young person who has previously been in care. The type of support package you can get depends on a number of different things.

You can get support if:

  • you are aged 16 and 17, have been in care for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14 and are still in care – this is called being eligible
  • you are aged 16 and 17, have been in care for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14 and have left care – this is called being relevant
  • you are over 18 and were previously 'eligible' or 'relevant'
  • you are over 16 but under 21; and
  • was in care prior to the making of a Special Guardianship Order which was in force when you became 18; or
  • were in care at any time after your 16th birthday but not in residential or foster care; or
  • were privately fostered and assessed to be in need.

If you are unsure whether you qualify for support, just ask your social worker or personal advisor (PA).

3. How we can help you

We want to give you the help that you need to enjoy independent living and to reach your potential, whether you want to go to university or start your career. Your PA will work with you to find out exactly how much support you need, will make sure you get that support, and will be there to help you find your feet.

Some of the things we can help with include:

  • helping you to find safe and suitable accommodation
  • helping you to get the education, training or job you need to have a successful adult life
  • helping you to manage your money
  • helping you to stay fit and healthy
  • helping you if you run into any problems

4. What is a personal advisor (PA)?

Your social worker will introduce you to your PA when you turn 16 years old.

PAs are experienced in working with young people and they will know how best to help you when you leave care. Once you've turned 16 they will get to know you, find out what you would like to do in your life and help you to achieve it.

Once you turn 18 they will:

  • take over responsibility for supporting you
  • review your Pathway Plan with you and make sure you reach your goals
  • keep in touch with you and make sure you can get the support you need

Your PA will be there to help you until you are 21 (or 25 if you are in full-time education), so make sure you make the most of them and keep in touch!

Top tip: Talk to your PA about how much contact you would like and the best way for them to contact you to make keeping in touch easy.

5. What is a Pathway Plan?

When you are 16, your social worker will ask you about your needs and will record the skills you have learned and what skills you need to learn to live independently. This is called a Needs Assessment and will be used a bit later on to help create your Pathway Plan.

Your Pathway Plan will cover things such as:

  • your ambitions and dreams for the future
  • where you would like to live
  • what education and training you need
  • what you would like to do for a job
  • if you need practical or financial support
  • friends and family that you can contact
  • your health needs.

Basically your Pathway Plan is all about you, and written with you. So if there is something that is important to you, don't forget to tell your social worker or PA about it. Every six months a review meeting will be set up with you to make sure that your Pathway Plan is offering you the support you need.

Top tip: Make sure any help or support that you need is written into your Pathway Plan. This means that you can refer back to it at a later date to ensure you get it.

6. Your rights

  • You have the right to be involved in all decisions regarding when you leave care and your plans for leaving care.
  • You have a right to let us know how you feel about the services you receive and if necessary you can give feedback or make a complaint.
  • You have a right to an Independent Advocate. An independent advocate is someone outside of Children's Social Care who can help you have your say.
  • You have the right to receive advice and guidance about education, training and employment.
  • You have the right to learn and develop skills on how to live independently.
  • You have a right to share or not to share information with other professionals such as housing, health, benefits agency or other services that support you.
  • You have a right to see your personal information. For more information visit Personal Details and your Records.

7. Where I can live

8. Managing my money

9. What to do after school

10. Health & Wellbeing