What is a care leaver?
The definition of a care leaver is a young person aged between 16 and 25 years, who has been ‘looked after’ at some point since they were 14 years old, and would have been in care on or after their 16th birthday.
As a care leaver in the UK, you are entitled to ongoing support and help from the Children’s Services after you have left care. Typically in England, the leaving care age is 18 years old – however, in some circumstances, some people can leave care earlier.
Support for care leavers
Typical support from the Children’s Services can come in the form of providing assistance with accommodation, spending money, higher education and finding employment.
Children’s Services have a duty to support care leavers until the age of 21 –especially when the care leaver is in full time education, is completing training or has a disability. The support that care leavers receive begins being planned when they are 15 years old, also known as a Pathway Plan. This includes details on how the local authority will provide assistance, reflecting the young person’s wishes. A personal advisor will ensure that this Pathway Plan is followed and reviewed every six months, and updated regularly.
However, there are different categories of care leavers, which depends on their age, how long the leaver was in care for and when. As a care leaver, you may also be entitled to a leaving care service if you were placed with a relative or friend under a Special Guardianship Order.
How Excel Fostering supports care leavers
Care leavers are encouraged to discuss with their adviser or social worker if there might be a grant or a charity for which they could be eligible. Having that student support available for care leavers is an integral part of the process to aid them to better outcomes in life.
Alternatively, there is the Staying Put program – this is designed to provide an extended stay option for children who would benefit from staying with their former foster family for a few more years. This could be due to a variety of factors, including delayed maturity, vulnerability or in order to complete their education.