Planning for the future
When you reach 16 and become a care leaver, as well as having a social worker, you will also have a personal advisor, known as a PA who will give you extra support.
The personal advisor is part of Hampshire County Council's Care Leaver Teams and they will give you extra support including:
• Keeping in regular contact - at least every two months once you turn 18 years old
• Helping you look at your housing options post 18
• Helping you look at the option of going to work, getting some training or studying for more qualifications
• Attending college and university open days and interviews with you
• Helping you to pursue interests and hobbies
• Helping with budgeting, money matters and making benefit claims
• Agreeing how much and what type of support you think you'll need
Your personal advisor will also be part of your Pathway Plan meetings.
When you reach the age of 18, your social worker will stop working with you and your personal advisor will become your main worker, supporting you until your 21st birthday or until you are 25 years old if you are in full time education or training.
What is a care leaver?
DO NOT PANIC! Just because you have become known as a care leaver DOES NOT mean you are about to be told to leave your placement and you won't be 'kicked out' of care. It's just a legal term.
You will become a care leaver at 16 year’s old if:
• You are in care
• You were privately fostered until your 16th birthday
• You were in care immediately before a Special Guardianship Order was made
• You have had a short time in care between the ages of 14 and 17 years old
Your status as a care leaver will last until at least your 21st birthday or, if you are in education or training, can go up to your 25th birthday.
A quick guide to your care leaver status below:
A young person who is aged 16 or 17 years old who is currently in care and has been in care for more than 13 weeks since age 14. The 13 weeks does not have to be all in one go.
A young person aged 16 or 17 years old who has left care but was previously eligible.
A young person aged 18 years or over who was either eligible or relevant.
A young person who:
- Has been privately fostered until their 16th birthday or 18th if they are disabled
Is aged 16-21 and was Looked After immediately before the making of a Special Guardianship Order
- Is 16 or 17 and has spent LESS THAN 13 WEEKS in care since the age of 14 but includes at least 24 hours in care aged 16 or 17 and is not returning home to a parent or adult with Parental Responsibility
- Has been successfully living at home for more than six months and was previously an 'eligible' or 'relevant' care leaver
- Is aged 16, and under 21 who was looked after in a series of pre-planned short breaks
Qualifying Care leaver Status: what does it mean?
There are a number of ways you can have a qualifying care leaver status. Children's Services duties to this group of young people are different to other groups of care leavers and any support is based on the outcome of an assessment we will complete with you. If you do need on-going support you will be allocated a Personal Advisor from your local Care Leaver Team to work with you. We will also agree with you a support plan saying what help and support you need. The amount of contact you have with your Personal Advisor will also be agreed.
Once the plan has been completed and you no longer need our services, your case will be closed. However as you will keep your qualifying care leaver status until at least your 21st birthday you can contact Children's Services at any time up until then to ask for support. You will need to contact the Children's Reception Team on 0300 555 1384 in the first place. Don't worry; when your case is closed you will be given a letter telling you about how to contact us in the future.
If you decide that you do not wish to have the support from Children's Services or the assessment agrees you have no on-going needs then your case will be closed and again you will be given a letter telling you how to contact Children's Services in the future if you find your situation has changed and you want some support.
If you decide to return to full time education (college or university) or training then it may be helpful to contact Children's Services to see what support we can give you, this could include help with funding courses or travel. You can contact us in this situation any time before you reach 25.
Have a look at our Guide to Care Leaver Status
As a care leaver you will continue to be supported by your social worker but will also have a Personal Advisor from the Care Leaver Team supporting you between the ages of 16 and 18. At age 18 your social worker will stop working with you but your personal advisor will carry on supporting you all the time you are a care leaver.
If you have a disability and a social worker from the Disabled Children's Team they will continue to support you until you are 18 years old. Once you reach the age of 18, the support you will receive will be provided by the Adult Services Department, you will also have a personal advisor allocated to you once you reach 16.
Planning for leaving care
Planning for leaving care will start a long time before you actually have to leave care. This helps you to prepare and make sure that you have all the support you need. Preparing for leaving care becomes part of your care plan, reviews and pathway planning. Although you legally stop being in care at age 18 as you become an adult your support will continue.
It can be hard leaving care and if you need any support, your social worker and personal advisor will listen if you need someone to talk to. All you need to do is let them know and they will be there.
Once you reach age 16 your social worker will:
• Apply for a National Insurance number
• Make sure you have a passport
• Make sure you have a bank account
• Set up a Personal Allowance into your bank account in place of pocket money
• Help you apply for the local housing register
What happens if I am a care leaver and I decide to move out of Hampshire?
If you are over 18 and decide to leave Hampshire, you will probably continue to be the responsibility of Hampshire County Council until you stop being a care leaver.
The only exception to this is those that are qualifying care leavers and it may be that they can get support from the new local authority in the area they are moving to. Your personal advisor can talk to you about this.
We will write to the local authority where you are moving to so they can help you if you ever need emergency support or advice.
What if I don't want to keep in contact when I am a care leaver?
Children's Services have a duty to keep in touch with you at least every two months once you stop being in care. This should be a face to face visit but if you really do not want any contact then we will respect your wishes.
We will write to you to let you know that although you are requesting no contact, your case will remain open and you will be able to contact us and resume support at any time until you formally leave care.
If we are giving financial support then we will need to see you.
What happens if I am in private fostering?
If you are privately fostered this will automatically come to an end when you are 16, or 18 if you are disabled. If you are in education or training, you will be able to claim income support, and if you are unemployed, you will be able to claim Job Seekers Allowance.
You will also be able to claim Local Housing Allowance to help you rent or for it to be paid to your 'carer' if you are still living with them after the age of 16. Your social worker will write you a letter confirming your status and you will be able to present this with your benefit claim.
Unaccompanied Asylum seeking children
Any child or young person coming into England without their parents, saying they are under 18 years old, will usually come into care so they can be looked after properly. As a child they will also become care leavers and are entitled to all leaving care services.
Your social worker and personal advisor will help to make sure you get access to legal advice so you can make an asylum application to stay in the UK. This is a very long process and there are no guarantees you will be granted leave to stay in the UK. It all depends on which country you come from and the reasons why you left in the first place.
Finding somewhere to live
The type of place that you live in will depend on things like your age and your individual needs. In general, most children and young people in care will live with a foster family, sometimes in supported lodgings, or in a children's home.
Will I have my own place?
It is important to say from the beginning that it is very unusual for young people to have their own flat. By law, young people under the age of 18 cannot hold a tenancy and so cannot have a flat in their own name. That is the same for all young people, not just those in care. This is because it is recognised that living on your own and being legally responsible for the accommodation is a difficult task.
Even when you reach 18 and become an adult, it is fairly unusual to have your own flat. The expectation for all young adults is that they will live in supported or shared accommodation as a first stage. Housing departments have very long waiting lists for properties and it can be years before you may be finally successful in having your own place.
Whilst it can be exciting to think living on your own it can also be quite a big step and some young people find they are lonely without other people around or they find their friends can take advantage of them which puts their tenancy at risk.
If you are living independently you will need to budget to make sure you can pay rent contributions, bills, food, possibly council tax, social travel, clothes and your mobile phone.
Rent deposit and guarantors
When you finally go into private rented accommodation, whether a flat or a room in a shared house, you may need to provide a deposit and rent in advance.
Children's Services may be able to help you with this funding so talk to your personal advisor first. Some landlords also want an adult to be a guarantor for anybody under 25. Again talk to your personal advisor about this as Children's Services may be able to help you.
As an 18 year old care leaver Children's Services will financially support you to 'stay put' with your former foster carer under a supported lodgings arrangement.
You can do this whether you are in education, training, work or unemployed and it can last until you reach 21 (or over if you are still in education or training)
The majority of care leavers under the age of 18 are looked after within a fostering setting. The only change that takes place is that you will receive your personal allowance once you are 16 and have finished compulsory education instead of it being given to you as pocket money from your carer.
Once you reach 18, your foster placement will change to a 'supported lodgings' arrangement and you must claim local housing allowance benefits to assist with your rent costs.
Supported housing projects
Some organisations run housing projects where there are a number of people in one building but each person has their own room with a shared kitchen, and sometimes a bathroom.
Staff are available to provide support, depending on the particular project.
In Hampshire, supported lodgings are only available through particular organisation. There is a referral and interview process to go through to make sure the best possible match is made between you and the supported lodgings host.
You must be 16 or over to live in this type of arrangement. If you go for this option, you will have your own within someone else's home, sometimes with a family, but you will be more responsible for yourself.
Supported lodgings are often seen as a step between foster care and independent living. The length of stay in supported lodgings is usually two years.
Children's Services will also support you to 'stay put' in supported lodgings provided by other organisations such as Step By Step and Two Saints all the time you are in education or training.
You may decide to leave your foster placement or residential children's home to find your own accommodation, often with a friend. We may be able to provide some funding to meet costs for food and amenities.
Can I go back to my family?
When you turn 18, you can move back to live with your parents or other family members if you want to, and if they agree to this.
If this is something that you would like to do, it is important that you think about this carefully to make sure that you are ready to do that and that you will be safe.
Speaking to your personal advisor or a friend about this, may help - it's a big decision to make.
What if I’m at university? Where will I live?
If you are at university, you have a number of possible accommodation options:
• Halls of residence
• Rented room in a student house
• Remain living with a former foster carer
For more information have a look at Going to University
Setting up home
Children's Services will help you to buy the furniture and items you need to set up home.
However, this is NOT a cash lump sum but instead is funding, up to a maximum of £2,000 you can dip into over a number of years, as you move through different types of accommodation on your way to being independent.
We have put together a list of essential items - you will have to save for the luxuries!
Children's Services has a range of duties and responsibilities towards supporting you as a care leaver and this includes financial help.
How much financial support will I get?
The amount of help you can get may depend on what your care leaver status is and how old you are. As a general rule if you are in care and under 18, Children's Services will pay for your rent, support costs and give you a weekly allowance. Once you turn 18 you can claim benefits to help with rent and living expenses - the amount you receive depends on whether you are in college, training, unemployed or unable to work through illness or disability. Even if you are working you might still be able to get some support so it is worth checking out with your personal advisor and the Job Centre Plus (JCP).
What happens if I am still in foster care or Supported Lodgings?
For those young people under 18 who are living in foster care or supported lodgings and earn a wage or are over 18 and still living with their former carer in a Staying Put arrangement speak to you social worker or personal advisor about whether you need to make a small contribution.
Managing your money
As well as knowing what you are entitled to it is just as important that you manage your money and learn how to budget so you keep out of debt. Again there are lots of people who can help you with this including your carer, support worker, social worker and personal advisor. It is often helpful to write down the money you have coming in (such as bursary, wages, personal allowance) and then what you have to pay for each week - once you know this, can adjust your lifestyle to fit your budget.
• Children's Services will pay all accommodation and support costs. The only exception would be those who have Qualifying Care Leaver status who can access Housing Benefits
• Care leaver's should generally be able to access benefits to help pay for accommodation costs
• Children's Services can make a financial contribution to accommodation costs to help you 'stay put' with your former carer, Children's Services will then pay this 'top-up' direct to the carer
• Children's Services can help to pay an accommodation deposit and rent in advance. Children's Services can also, where appropriate, act as your guarantor
Setting up home
• Children's Services will support you with providing the essentials for setting up home
• You can access money from the age of 16 to the time your involvement with Children's Services ends (between ages 21 and 25)
• Funding is based on your needs and can be up to a maximum of £2,000 - however this is not paid as a cash lump sum
• Instead of benefits Children's Services will pay you a weekly allowance, directly into your bank account - it will be paid at the same rates as benefits
• If you buy your own food you will receive a full Personal Allowance, if your food is provided you will receive a slightly lesser amount
• Your Personal Allowance is payable once you reach 16 and have finished Year 11
• If you are a care leaver you can access mainstream benefits if you are not earning a wage
• Your Personal Advisor or carer will help you with the claim process
• Children's Services will contribute £200 towards driving lessons
•You will need to pay for your provisional licence, your tests and any extra lessons you need
• Once you leave foster care you will receive £25 as a birthday gift if we are in regular contact with you, this will either be paid into your bank account or be a voucher
• When you turn 18 and are still in regular contact with us, you will receive £100 as a birthday gift
• Once you leave foster care and are in regular contact with us you will receive £25 at Christmas
• If you celebrate other religious festivals you will also receive £25
• Children's Services will pay for your travel costs to and from college, training or university. Between the ages of 18-19 Children's Services can help you with travel costs to get you to work for a period of time
• Children's Services will pay for your passport up to the age of 18
• If you are over 18 you will need to buy your own passport. However, if you have never had a passport then Children's Services will pay for your first one post 18
• Children's Services will pay for your TV Licence up to the age of 18
• Children's Services will pay for your first TV Licence if you are over 18 and haven't had one before
• If you are in college you can get the 16-19 Bursary which is £30 per week
• Children's Services can help with contributions and costs towards required equipment
• You can also make an application for funding to HOIRST or the MACE fund - ask your personal advisor about this
• You will need to apply for all your student loans and grants to find out more information about Student Finance England and to make an application please go to www.gov.uk/student-finance/overview
• Children's Services may be able to provide a top up if there is a shortfall between your income and your expenditure
• The £2000 Higher Education Bursary will be paid to Former Relevant Care Leavers over the course of three years. This is in addition to any other Children's Services funding you may receive.
Pathway planning is the key to support once you become a care leaver. Once you reach your 16th birthday you will no longer have a care plan. Instead you will start pathway planning.
A pathway plan is a written document that looks at your plans and goals and what is needed to help you achieve them. Before your first pathway plan your social worker will complete the Pathway Assessment of Need with you. This helps identify your current skills and new skills that you need to develop to help you move towards being more independent.
A pathway Plan is broken down into different areas:
• Essential information about Me
• Contact details for those people supporting Me
• Education, training and employment
• Health and lifestyle
• Family and friends
• Emotions and behaviour
• Self care and presentation
Pathway Plan Review
To make sure things stay on track for you, your pathway plan will be reviewed at least every six months or sooner if needed. These reviews will continue until at least your 21st birthday or up until Children's Services legally cease supporting you.
Once you become an adult you may want your reviews to be held in a different way. It is important you speak to your Personal Advisor about your wishes.
What happens when I am 18?
When you are 18, you will receive support from your personal advisor, who will be your key worker, and they will support you until you are 21 or 25 if you are in education or training.
Reviewing your pathway plan continues after you reach 18. Recognising that you are now an adult, it is important that you talk to your personal advisor about how you would like these reviews to take place.
Staying in touch
At the very least you personal advisor will want to see you face to face every two months.
In between these visits it is up to you to agree with your personal advisor how much contact and support you would like. This could be through texts, phone calls or emails.
Once you are aged 18 you are entitled to claim benefits like any other young person. As a care leaver you can apply up to three months before your 18th birthday and your personal advisor can help you with this process. You can get benefits if you are still in education, unemployed or sometimes when you are working depending on how much your earn.
If you are aged 16-19 and in full time education you will continue to receive the education bursary directly from your college as well as any benefits
What if I would like to rent privately?
As soon as you reach 18, you are legally an adult and you can enter the private rented sector for accommodation.
If you decide to rent privately, you will need to think about giving a deposit to your landlord, providing references and guarantors to the landlord as part of the tenancy agreement, and furnishing the accommodation.
See the pages ‘Finding Somewhere to Live’ for more information.
Paying a deposit and the first month of rent
When you take on a private tenancy, the landlord will normally expect to receive four to six weeks rent in advance as well as one months rent as a deposit. Speak to your personal advisor to see if there is some funding available for this. If you are in contact with your parents, you may be able to speak to them to find out if your family can help with meeting these costs.
Tenancies are usually for a six month period and you will be legally bound to pay the rent costs for that period of time. We will need to ensure that you are suitable for this type of accommodation, especially if we are supporting your deposit and rent in advance, otherwise the County Council could end up paying rent when you no longer live in the property.
If you rent privately, you will also need to think about furniture if the accommodation is unfurnished. Speak to your social worker as we may be able to give you a helping hand with buying some items, such as:
• Two sets of bedding
• Duvet and pillows
• Basic kitchen equipment, crockery and cutlery
• Iron and ironing board
• CD/TV/DVD player
• Cooker and microwave
• Washing machine
Paying Council Tax
If you live in privately rented accommodation when you are aged 18, you will be required to pay council tax. You may be entitled to some exemptions if you are in education for 21 hours or more a week or if you are unemployed.
If you stay in supported lodgings or remain with your former foster carer, you will not be required to pay council tax.
Last Updated: 05 June 2023