Care leavers guidance

The Leaving Care team provides a personal advisor (PA) to all young people 16 years old to 18 years old in care or to care leavers (or up to age 25 years if in full-time education). We also work with young people who are still in foster care or who have left foster care aged 18 years to 21 years old (or 25 years in continuing education).

A young person is transferred to the Leaving Care team which become the key worker or team on their eighteenth birthday, or when they ceased to be looked after. 

Planning for leaving care takes time, and you won’t be expected to move on until you are ready.

Needs assessment and pathway plan

When young people reach the age of 15 and a half years old, your social worker will work with you to complete a needs assessment and pathway plan.

This assessment and plan looks at your future needs in a number of areas:

  • health
  • accommodation
  • education
  • training
  • employment
  • support
  • money 
  • practical skills. 

This gives you an opportunity to start thinking about what your future goals are and where you want to live in the future. We offer practical, emotional, and some financial support to ensure you have:

  • suitable accommodation
  • contact with your family and previous foster carers
  • access to education
  • training and employment
  • access to health services
  • develop your independent living skills

When you reach 16 years of age, the law says you should have a personal advisor whose job is to help you prepare and plan for your future. 

Pathway planning

Your social worker and personal advisor will help you to complete a pathway plan. This helps you think about what you need to do to get ready to leave care. 

The plan covers:

  • who will support you after you leave care
  • where you will live
  • your plans for going to college or getting a job
  • what practical skills you need to learn, like cooking, managing money and paying bills
  • what money you will get and from where
  • your health
  • help in opening a bank account, getting ID, and formal documents
  • any other help you might need.

If you leave care after you are 16 years old, Children's Services will help to advise you until you are 25 years old or when your educational programme concludes.

A pathway plan should be completed with all young people who are leaving care, by the time you are sixteen years and three months. It is based on your needs assessment, which is done by your Social Worker with you and other professionals working with you.

There are three types of pathway plan:

  • a picture plan, for children with disabilities
  • a pathway plan for young people with learning disabilities
  • a non-picture plan for young people without these needs.

Once you have left care, your pathway plan will be reviewed every six months or sooner if you have a significant change in your circumstances. These reviews are chaired by the team manager.

Your rights when leaving care

You have a right to:

  • be involved in all decisions made about you and your life
  • be treated with respect
  • be treated fairly
  • be listened to
  • be healthy
  • be safe
  • have an education
  • have an advocate
  • see your Children's Services file
  • complain if there are things you are not happy about
  • if you don’t see your family very much, you have the right to an independent visitor.
Your Personal Advisor must:
  • put your safety and wellbeing first
  • listen to your wishes and feelings
  • involve you in all the decisions made about you and your life
  • make a clear plan for your future
  • give you a copy of this plan
  • review you plan and make sure it is working best for you
  • work with other professionals
  • seek your consent about sharing your information with any significant people or parties to support planning for your future
  • help you keep in touch with your family and friends.