The aim of the Leaving Care Services is to support care leavers so that they can live successful independent lives. Each care leaver will reach that point at a different age and there should be no assumption that all care leavers will require statutory support until up to age 25. Although each young person will be different, it would be expected that support for care leavers will taper away over time, in recognition of their growing maturity and independence:
They are aged 16 or 17, have been Looked After for a period or periods totalling at least 13 weeks starting after their 14th birthday and ending at least one day after their 16th birthday, and are still in care. (This total does not include a series of pre-planned short-term placements of up to four weeks where the child has returned to the parent). There is a duty to support these young people up to the age of 18, wherever they are living.
The statutory definition and requirements to undertake a needs assessment, prepare a Pathway Plan, keep the Pathway Plan under review and appoint a Personal Adviser are covered by Regulations 42, 43 and 44 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010.
They are aged 16 or 17 and are no longer Looked After, having previously been in the category of Eligible Young Person when in care (that is, they have been Looked After for a period, or periods, totalling at least 13 weeks starting after their 14th birthday and ending at least one day after their 16th birthday). However, if after leaving care, a young person returns home for a period of 6 months or more to be cared for by a parent and the return home has been formally agreed as successful, they will no longer be a “Relevant Young Person”.
A young person is also “Relevant” if, having been in care for three months or more, they are then detained after their 16th birthday either in a hospital, remand centre, young offenders’ institution or secure training centre. There is a duty to support Relevant Young People up to the age of 18, wherever they are living.
The statutory definition and requirements to stay in touch with the young person, undertake a needs assessment (unless this was done when the young person was ‘Eligible’), prepare and keep the Pathway Plan under review, appoint a Personal Adviser (unless this was done when the young person was ‘Eligible’) and provide accommodation and assistance to meet their needs in relation to education, training or employment are covered by Regulations 4 to 9 of the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010.
They are aged 18 or above and have left care having been previously either “Eligible”, “Relevant” or both. There is a duty to consider the need to support these young people wherever they are living.
The statutory definition and requirements to stay in touch with the young person, keep the Pathway Plan under review, continue the appointment of a Personal Adviser and provide financial assistance near where the young person is employed or seeking employment / to enable the young person to pursue education or training are covered by Regulations 4 to 9 of the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010.
If the Former Relevant child pursues higher education in accordance with their Care Plan, there is a duty to pay a higher education bursary.
To the extent that the Former Relevant child’s welfare requires it, ‘other assistance’ must be provided which may be in kind or, in exceptional circumstances, in cash.
These duties continue until the former relevant child reaches 21 or, where the child’s pathway plan sets out a programme of education or training which extends beyond their 21st birthday, they continue for so long as the child pursues that programme.
Specific duties are placed upon the local authority in respect of Former Relevant children who inform the local authority that they are pursuing, or intend to pursue, a programme of education or training. The local authority must:
These duties continue up to the Former Relevant child’s 25th birthday.
In each case where a care leaver requests this support, the Local Authority will need to assess the appropriateness of the course and how it will help the young person to achieve their ambitions. The extent of the practical and financial assistance provided will reflect the type of course, whether full – or part-time, and the young person’s existing income.
They are aged 16 and over and under the age of 21, and:
‘Looked after accommodated or fostered’ includes:
Where a local authority looked after, accommodated or fostered a young person, and they are deemed as Qualifying for advice and assistance, the local authority has a duty to take reasonable steps to contact them with a view to advising and assisting them.
This includes financial assistance in relation to expenses incurred in living near the place where the young person is, will be, or is seeking work or where they will be receiving education or training; or where the person is in full time further or higher education, is under the age of 25 and qualifies for advice and assistance, or would have done if they were under 21, assistance in relation to securing vacation accommodation.
We want to support you to think big, aim high and have aspirational goals; to be happy, safe, and live a healthy lifestyle. We want to make sure your journey to becoming an independent adult works for you and you get all the support you need. At 18 you become an adult and your status changes, and it’s important you know what your rights and entitlements are so you know how we can and should help you. We will work with you to prepare you for this and support you after 18, with every care leaver being supported until 21 and up to 25 if you wish. We know becoming an adult can be hard, we know you may not always get it right first time, that is fine, we will keep supporting you to achieve your goals and become the independent adult we know you can be.
Quotes from Feedback gathered by Care Leaver Advisory Board- September 2021 and Care Leavers and Personal Advisor Services
‘I think it’s helping me become more independent and able to manage things on my own’
‘I faced being homeless because of my mental health and my PA has supported me through it in helping me find a flat’.
‘I felt a lack of support moving prior to me being allocated my new PA’
‘Due to the pandemic Covid 19 everyone had struggled, the most support that I have received from care leaver/leaving care were emotionally, mentally and psychologically. I felt alive, strong, ambitious and powerful!’
You can find out more about the people who will support you in ‘Relationships – Who supports you and how:
They are there for you from 17-25 and support you to leave care and become more independent. They will complete pathway planning with you post 18.
They support you until your 18 whilst you are in care and complete PA role/tasks for you until you are allocated at PA when you are 17 years of age.
Your Independent Reviewing Officer is there to make sure your plan is working for you. You can comment on, complain about, or compliment the support you receive, and it is the Conference Reviewing Officer’s role to make sure your views are heard and act on these if this is not happening. Like your social worker they support you until your 18.
If you live with Foster Carers, they will support you with your everyday needs and will support you to develop independent living skills. You will agree what support they will provide you with in your Pathway Plan. You can remain living with your Foster Carers past 18 in a Staying Put Arrangement. Please see our Housing section for more information on this.
Your keyworker is there to support you on your journey to independence. They will help to prepare you with the skills needed to live independently. You will agree what support they will provide you with in your Pathway Plan.
Most young people get on with their Social Worker and Personal Advisor. If you are not happy with either your Personal Advisor or your Social Worker, we want to hear about this. It maybe you want to change your worker, or you are not agreeing on a specific matter. If you cannot talk to your Personal Advisor or Social Worker, you can ask to speak to their manager or you can talk to someone you trust and ask them to contact your Social Worker or PA’S manager. This could be any professional, including your Conference Reviewing Officer, Foster Carer, Keyworker, Independent Visitor, School, College and Advocate.
An advocate is an independent person who helps you speak up for yourself. They also give advice, make you aware of your rights, listen to you and represent your views, wishes and feelings. An advocate will support you so that you can have your say about the care and services you receive. Advocacy flyer (PDF, 1.8MB)
You can get an advocate if you are a:
An advocate can help you when:
If you would like to request help from an advocate you can complete the online form. Please note: We cannot guarantee availability of advocates to attend meetings where less than five working days notice has been provided. Please give as much notice as possible.
Since COVID-19, the team have worked virtually (phone calls, video calls, texts and voice notes), as many young people have preferred this. However, please ask if a face to face meeting is needed. If you would like to find out more about what we do, you can contact the team.
All local authorities must publish up-to-date information about the services it offers for care leavers and other services which may assist care leavers in, or preparing for, adulthood and independent living. The local offer should cover health and well-being; relationships; education and training; employment; accommodation; participation in society. This information should also include how relevant services that can be accessed by its partner agencies and include District Councils where relevant.
As you get older you will be thinking about your future. Within 3 months of you turning 16, your Social Worker will have completed a combined Needs Assessment & Pathway Plan. Your Care Plan together with information from the most recent Assessment will form the basis of the Needs Assessment. The Pathway plan outlines what your future goals are and how we will support you to achieve them. This plan starts at 16 and is reviewed every 6 months by your social worker until you are 18 years old when your PA will take this over.
Your Pathway Plan will focus on:
Before turning 18, your Social Worker will be visiting you every 6 weeks and you will have their contact details. If you are living in settled circumstances, they may visit you every 3 months. Your PA will meet you when you turn 17. Your PA will visit you every 8 weeks and more if needed. When you turn 18, your Social Worker will stop visiting you. Your PA will continue to visit you at least every 8 weeks up. Your PA will meet with you as often as you need and stay in contact between visits. This may be by text, mobile, email, Skype and/or Whatsapp. You and your PA will agree how you want to keep in contact with each other between visits. Your PA will continue your pathway planning up to the age of 21 and if you would like ongoing support and or you are in education this can continue up to the age of 25.
When you turn 21, if you are not in education, your PA will talk to you about whether you wish for their support to continue. If you do, this is fine, they will continue to support you. If you choose to stop seeing them, you can come back to us at any point up to the age of 25 and request a PA again. If you are in education, the law states we must continue to provide a PA to you until you complete your education. If you are 21 and still in education, you can agree how often you will see your PA, but we would like this to be a minimum every 3 months so we can check your needs are met.
If you are not in education your PA will no longer be able to visit you and complete pathway planning. We will still be here for you and you can contact us at any time on our duty line and we will do our best to support and advise you. We would also love to here about what you have been doing and achieving.
When you turn 18, you may decide you do not wish to keep in touch, this is your right, but the law states we must do all we can to keep in touch with you until you are 21 or up to 25 if you are in education. We will talk to you about how we can keep in touch to make sure you are okay, and you have the right support in place.
When you first meet your PA, they will provide you with their telephone contact details. They will also provide you with their email address. Your PA will let you know the days they work and their working hours. If they are on leave, they will put a message on their phones and email alerts to notify you they are off and when they will be back.
If your PA is not available when you call, they may be in a meeting or driving. Please leave a message and they will call you back as soon as they can. This may not always be in the same working day, but they will do their best.
If your PA is off work, or you cannot reach them and the matter is urgent, the Care Leavers Service has a duty line. Our duty service is run Monday to Friday between 9-5pm. The number for this service is: 033 022 22004. You can also email the service on: LeavingCareService@Westsussex.gov.uk
The duty line is manned by PA’s from the Care Leavers team. The duty workers will be able to help you, but they may need to ask you some questions or make enquiries on your behalf. Managers are also available should you need to speak to one. If you do, you can ask the duty worker for a manager to call you.
Our Emergency Duty Team (EDT) is here for you outside of office hours. The EDT work between the hours of 5pm & 9am, 7 days a week. They are there to respond to emergency situations that will not wait until the next working day. They can be contacted on 0330 222 6664
Before you access your records, Voice and Participation team and Care Leavers Team have put together guidance on how you can access your records and this includes frequently asked questions and advice from care leavers who have done this. This may help you to think through what records you would like to access and when may be the best time for you to do this.
The easiest way is to use the online form which can be found at:- https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/about-the-council/information-and-data/data-protection/accessing-your-personal-data/ This form allows you to say which records you want to access and provide the identification necessary for the request to be processed.
Applications can also be made on paper using the standard form, which should be sent to Data Protection Team, Ground Floor, Northleigh, County Hall, Chichester, PO19 1RQ.
Requests for adoption records are handled by the Special Guardianship and Adoption Support Team as different rules apply to the disclosure of these documents. Please see:- https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/education-children-and-families/adoption-and-fostering/adoption-records/ for more information on this team.
If maybe you want to make a complaint or make a compliment about the service you have received. If you want to make a complaint, remember you can talk to your Social Worker, PA, advocate or any other professional to help you.
If you require an interpreter to help you make a complaint call 01243 777100 and ask to use the Telephone Interpreting Service.
The Children and Social Work Act 2017 set out seven principles for Corporate Parenting: