Your local council must support you until you’re 21. When you leave care there’ll be a meeting to help you work out what you’re going to do next.

AgeWhat happens
16You’ll be given a plan to help you make the transition from care to independent life
18You’re no longer in care when you turn 18 but your council must still provide you with some support, eg a personal adviser or plan
21You’ll get help and advice from the council until you’re 21 (or up to 25 if you’re still in education or training)

When you reach 16

It must include plans for your:

  • Health
  • Where you will live
  • education, training and development
  • contact with family
  • financial management

When you reach 18

Your personal adviser must take part in any pathway plan reviews until you’re 21, or up to 25 if you’re still in education. Your plan must be reviewed:

  • every 6 months at least
  • if you ask for one
  • if your personal adviser or the council asks for one

Setting up home allowances

You can get a setting up home allowance (also known as a leaving care grant) of at least £2,000 to help you buy essential things when moving into your own home.

Further and Higher Education

As a care leaver help and financial support is available – see Propel in Useful Links section

Your rights as a Care Leaver

Depending on how long you have been in care you have certain entitlements that you have a right to.

Eligible Child

If you are aged 16 or 17 and have been looked after by the local authority for at least 13 weeks in total and began before your 14th birthday and ended after your 16th birthday then you are an “eligible child”. Your social worker or IRO can confirm this.

Your rights as an eligible child

The local authority must assess your needs within 3 months of your 16th birthday (or within 3 months of you becoming an eligible child if that happens later)

As soon as possible after they have completed the assessment the Local Authority must prepare a pathway plan. This says what needs to be done to help prepare you for your future. All looked after children who are “eligible children must be provided with a pathway plan.

Your social worker must make sure that they know your needs so that your pathway plan is right for you.

You must be asked your wishes and feelings about your plan. Other people will be asked their feelings as well. Such as your parents, carers, your Independent Reviewing Officer.

You will also have a Personal Advisor whose job it is to provide you with advice and support, to take part in reviews of your case, to keep in touch with the local authority about your pathway plan, keep in touch with you, check you are alright and that your pathway plan is being followed.

You should not be made to feel that you have to stop being looked after before you are ready. Before any moves takes place your IRO should check with you and everyone at your review how ready you are to move and how well you’ve been prepared.

16-18 years olds?

Q: Been in care for 13 weeks or more and on your 16th Birthday?
A: Yes to both (go to the next question)
A: No; you may qualify for ‘advice and assistance’ from your local authority.

Q: Are you still in care or have you left care?
A: If you are still in care you are classed as ‘Eligible’; you will be entitled to have your care plan maintained, have regular reviews and an independent reviewing officer.
A: In addition you will be entitled to everything that a ‘Relevant’ young person is entitled to (see below)
A: If you have already left care you are classed as ‘Relevant’ so you will be entitled to:

  • An assessment of your needs before you leave care to ensure that you leave care at a time that is right for you and you have enough information and support about what you will be getting

REMEMBER: You don’t have to leave care until you are 18 years old

Above information taken from Leaving Care We’ve Been There by Care Leavers Asscoiation