Leaving care and moving to independent living is both a scary and exciting time. By working together we can make it a positive experience for young people and help them to achieve what they may want from the future.
Leaving care is a journey we will take with you.
"Care leavers feel well supported, live in appropriate accommodation and are provided with the skills they need to become independent at a pace they can manage." - The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) - March 2014.
Your pathway plan
Just before you turn 16, your social worker will write a pathway plan with you to find out what skills you have and what you would like to achieve in the future.
We will review your pathway plan with you every six months, or more frequently if needed until you are 21 years old. If you are in education we will continue to review your plan until you are 25.
About your pathway plan
Your pathway plan should describe how you will move on to become confident enough to live independently. It is very individual to you.
How you plan your journey to adulthood will depend on:
- where you have lived while you were being looked after and where you want to live after you leave care
- your health needs
- what you would like to do with your future and whether you want to stay in full-time education or training
- who is around to support you.
Your plan should:
- be realistic
- be practical
- describe what you want to achieve
This is your plan, so it is important that you are involved in putting it together with your worker and you are happy with it.
Frequently asked questions
Who is a care leaver?
Your right to support as a care leaver will depend on when and how long you were in care. The words you need to look out for are ‘Eligible’, ‘Relevant’ and ‘Former Relevant’ which come from The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000.
- Eligible - Young people are those young people still in care aged 16 and 17 who have been looked after for (a total of) at least 13 weeks from the age of 14.
- Relevant - Young people aged 16 or 17 who have already left care, and who were looked after for (a total of) at least 13 weeks from the age of 14, and have been looked after at some time while 16 or 17.
- Former Relevant - Young people aged 18-21 who have been either eligible or relevant children, or both. If at the age of 21 the young person is still being helped by the responsible authority with education or training, he or she remains a former relevant child until the end of the agreed programme of education or training even if that takes him or her past the age of 21.
- Qualifying - Any young person aged under 21 (under 24 if in education or training) who ceases to be looked after or accommodated in a variety of other settings, was privately fostered, or was on a Special Guardianship Order after the age of 16. This includes: young people who left care after October 2001, at or after the age of 16, but do not qualify as eligible children or young people.
So, I’m leaving care - what are my entitlements?
If you are an ‘Eligible’, ‘Relevant’ or ‘Former Relevant young person:
- Involvement in decisions - you are a young adult, those supporting you need to ensure you are fully involved in the decisions that are being made about YOUR future! If this is not happening tell your Worker!
- A Pathway Plan:
- Part 1 - An Assessment of your needs which should be completed by your social worker with your full involvement. You are entitled to a copy.
- Part 2 - A Pathway Plan - this spells out what children’s services are going to provide you with and how they are going to do it - it’s your plan so you need to be at the centre of it and your views clearly represented! This is reviewed and updated with you, every six months. You will get a copy of the review minutes and a copy of your new plan each time it is reviewed.
- A Personal Advisor. You will meet your PA about 6 months before your 16th birthday. They do not replace your social worker (SW); you still have a social worker until you are 18. Your PA is there to act as your ‘advocate’. An advocate is someone who makes sure your views get heard and speaks up for you if you want them to. This is to make sure you that you are happy with your pathway plan. They need make contact with you at least every eight weeks – unless you clearly tell them not to. You can ask for help up to age 21 and help with returning to education or training up to your 25th birthday.
- Financial support- this is available for lots of different things. This varies from the financial help you will get if you decide to go to university, to money you will need to get you up and running in your own home (which might be a few years yet!).
- Contact with your family - if that’s what you want and it is safe for you to do so.
What happens when I get to 18?
You are now officially an adult, are no longer ‘in care’ and you don’t have a social worker. You are still entitled to support from your PA and your leaving care team. Also, all of the entitlements you had at 16 as listed above still remain.
How long do I get support from Children’s Services?
Your PA will offer advice and support up until you are 21 (and up to 25 if needed), and arrange to see you at least every eight weeks.
What happens if I am still in education post 21?
Your PA continues to offer you advice and support and you continue to have a pathway plan which is regularly reviewed for as long as you are on an agreed programme of education (this doesn’t just mean university.)
I am a ‘Qualifying’ young person, what am I entitled to?
It means you are not entitled to a nominated PA or a Pathway Plan but you are entitled to advice or support from the Leaving Care team, so if there are things that you want or need help with, e.g. if you are returning to learning, or need other help then come and ask, if we cannot help we may be able to point you in the right direction.
What if I leave care at 21 but later decide I want to return to training or education?
Right up until your 25th birthday you can return to Children’s Services, advise them of your wishes and ask for them to re-assess your needs - they have a duty to do this, they must tell you what they have decided and why they have made those decisions.
What if I am a care leaver but not from Bradford?
We will help you contact your Local Authority who is responsible for you and if agreeable look to provide you with a local service on behalf of your Local Authority.