Moving from your final care placement into adulthood is a big change in your life and should not be planned until there has been an in-depth discussion at your statutory review meeting.
At this meeting it’s really important that you clearly express your feelings on what you would like to happen about the support you’ll receive in the future, so that you can be helped to achieve your goals.
Your social worker/personal adviser is responsible for making sure that you get to have your say. The review will be chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer who must make sure that you are able to express your point of view at the meeting. If you need help in getting your view across you are entitled to have the support of an independent advocate.
If this meeting concludes that the right plan for you is to move from your final care placement then you should be told what your options are for your future accommodation and be given the chance to visit the places you could be moving to. You should not be expected to move before your 18th birthday or until you feel fully prepared and ready, and until a plan has been made for your after-care support.
If you are unhappy with this plan then you have a legal right to make a formal complaint. Your social worker/personal adviser and the Independent Reviewing Officer will help you understand your council’s complaints process and you are legally entitled to get help from an independent advocate.
Children leaving care
Your local authority is responsible for doing the following to help you make the transition to greater independence:
- To assess and meet your needs and keep in touch with you.
- To provide you with a personal adviser (PA) (who might be your social worker if you are in care as a result of a care order) and to continue to plan your support. This support will be set out in a care or a pathway plan. Your PA will coordinate the services set out in the plan and will ensure you get a copy of this.
- 16-17-year old care leavers: Like parents, councils are responsible for assessing and meeting the financial needs of 16-17-year-old care leavers and must ensure that they are provided with “suitable accommodation”.
- 18-21-year-old care leavers: If you leave care between the ages of 18 and 21, your authority must keep in touch with you until you are at least 21, or later if you’re carrying on in education or training. From the age of 18 you should be able to rely on the same arrangements for financial help as other 18-21 year olds. The council responsible for your care should continue to offer you support with the costs of education or training to meet your welfare needs.
Financial help for care leavers
Local councils should have financial policies that set out the level of financial help that they offer care leavers. You should ask your PA to show you this policy if you are not sure what financial support you are entitled to.
More help for care leavers
The Care Matters programme aims to improve outcomes for all young people in care. For more information visit the Care Matters website.
The Right to be Cared For (Right2B Cared4) programme is currently being tested in 11 local authorities to give young people a much greater say over leaving care decisions.
A national programme has been launched to help young people leaving care.
The ‘From Care2Work’ programme will help you get into employment if you are leaving care, by funding work experience and mentoring in your local area.
Who can help?
For information about leaving care, visit the Every Child Matters website.
Find out more about leaving care by visiting the National Care Advisory Service’s young people’s portal at www.leavingcare.org/young_people/home/
Find out about the Care Matters programme to see how it can benefit you at www.leavingcare.org/professionals/policy_and_consultations/
You can find out about independent advocacy for care leavers at www.voiceyp.org/ngen_public/default.asp?id=23
A National Voice is the only organisation in England run for and by young people from care. Find out more at www.anationalvoice.org/index.htm