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Preparing to leave care 

Advice, support and information around preparing to leave care

The leaving care process 

Many young people in care become care leavers at age 18. Some young people may leave care at 16 or 17 and live in independent or semi-independent accommodation.

Leaving care before the age of 18 is not a decision you can make on your own, your social worker will need to be sure that you would be safe, and are able to live independently– such as managing your bills, cooking for yourself, budgeting- before it can be agreed that you can leave care before 18.

Supporting your transition

Whether you leave care at 16, 17 or 18, it is really important that this is a planned and supported transition. For example, before you leave care, your social worker / Personal Advisor should speak with you about options for where you will live; whether this is looking into social housing, private renting, supported accommodation or shared accommodation.   

Your social worker/ Personal Advisor should also help you to think about your finances– helping you learn skills such as budgeting and money management, and thinking about how you will access finances. For example, they can inform you about grants and bursaries for education, apprenticeship and work options, and about how to apply for benefits. 

Your Pathway Plan

Information about what will happen when you leave care, and details of any support your Local Authority has said they will provide, should go into your Pathway Plan.  

Your Pathway Plan is a document that should set out the package of support that the Local Authority, and other professionals, will provide you to help you achieve your goals and become more independent. It will also set out steps you need to take. It can cover areas such as your aims for education, training and employment, where you want to live, what financial support you require and other support related to your needs. 

Your Pathway Plan should be created by your 16th birthday, but your social worker and/or Personal Advisor should be thinking about what support you will need to help you with a successful and positive transition to independence before this time.  

As this Pathway Plan is about you, your goals and aspirations, and the support you will get when leaving care, it is really important you are fully involved in it being created, and your wishes and feelings are clearly shown in the Pathway Plan. You should always have a copy of this Pathway Plan, and you can request this from your social worker and/or Personal Advisor.  

It’s not just us who say this, it’s the law! The Children Act 1989 guidance states that Pathway Plans are in place so that ‘each young person is provided with the services they need to enable them to achieve their aspirations and make a successful transition to adulthood’.

Home life 

Your Local Authority, through your social worker or Personal Advisor, should help you to develop basic life skills that will help you live independently.

This includes financial things like supporting you to set up a bank account, helping you to apply for benefits, setting up bills, and budgeting.

It also includes practical skills like shopping, cooking and cleaning.

If you feel unsure or worried about certain parts of living independently, it’s a good idea to speak to your social worker/Personal Advisor to let them know, so they can help you develop these skills.  

Preparing to leave care and need support? Talk to us

Support, advice and information about leaving care