16 - 25
Where will I live?
Whatever happens your personal advisor should help you find accommodation for when you leave care and not just any old accommodation, somewhere you are happy living.
16 to 18 years old
When you are 16 or over, you will start to prepare to leave care and think about where you might live. This is when your social worker will work with you to help you plan your route to independence. It’s really important for you to think about what kind of support you might need.
Some young people will stay on living with their foster carer until they are 18, with the possibility of staying on longer if they are in full time education. Some young people move between the age of 16 and 18 to a place where they have more responsibilities. This is called semi-independent living.
This is a chance for you to move somewhere where you don’t have a ‘foster carer’, but where there is still some adult support – maybe a key worker or an owner of the house.
There are different types of semi-independent accommodation - supported lodgings and supported accommodations.
This is when you will live somewhere similar to a foster carer’s house, where you receive support but are expected to take on more responsibility such as cooking and managing your money. Sometimes this can be the foster carer’s house that you might be living in already, but you will have more independence and will be expected to do more for yourself.
You may be given a place on a unit where there are staff on site 24 hours a day to help support you. Young people who live in this type of accommodation must engage with key work support in this type of accommodation. Some young people might see their key worker more often than others depending on their needs.
Shared-house accommodation is where you live with other young people who are looked after or care leavers but you will have your own bedroom and share kitchens and bathrooms. Usually there is no adult living there, although young people are often required to engage with key work support as part of their agreement to live there. Key workers may also visit the house to make sure the young people are okay.
Supported self-contained flats are provided to some young people who have been assessed as having very good independent living skills this is when you live on your own in a flat and get limited support. This is only an option if you already have the skills to manage you own tenancy with a small amount of support. We only recommend this option if you are able to take on a lot of responsibility.
Over 18 years old
Your social worker will work with you to ensure that you are provided with the most suitable home when you are ready to leave care. There are a number of different options for young people who live independently and the type of accommodation will depend on your needs.
Having your own tenancy
Once you have reached the stage where you can manage to live independently and maintain your own tenancy, you will have the option to apply to Brent Council for housing. Care leavers are given priority. However, please again seek advice from your personal adviser before doing so as they can help you.
You will need to ensure that you abide by the rules of your tenancy agreement or licence for your accommodation so that you are not evicted. Young people who are evicted run the risk of making themselves intentionally homeless, and this could result in you being turned down for permanent council housing in the future.
On average, the majority of young people nowadays don’t leave home until they are 24. With this in mind, it has become increasingly recognised that young people should have the right to stay on in foster placements beyond their 18th birthday and not be rushed into moving out before they are ready. Although they are no longer officially ‘looked after’ arrangements can be made to allow them to remain living with foster carers.
Brent Council has introduced a ‘Staying Put’ programme for young people who have built up good relationships with their foster carers and would like to continue staying with them. If agreed, they can stay for any amount of time up to the age of 21 if they are in full time education or training, and even up until 24 if they remain in further education. This option will need to be discussed with your Social Worker and your carer and then an application goes to a panel for a decision.
What if I don't want to live in Brent
If you don’t want to live in Brent before you leave care, you need to talk to your Personal Advisor as soon as you know this might be something that you want to do. Your worker can make contact with the Local Authority where you wish to live to see if they are able to assist you.
16 to 18 years old
Young people in foster care will continue to receive pocket money and clothing allowances as agreed with their foster carers and social workers. Young people who are supporting themselves financially from the age of 16 will be provided with subsistence payments from the Leaving Care Service which is at the same rate as Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance from the age.
Financial support with education
If you are studying on a course of further education, it is very important for you to claim a 16 to 19 Further Education Bursary. This will give you extra money to help you with your studies. Your Social Worker or Personal Advisor will help you to apply for this.
We can help you with education and training costs, travel, clothing costs and other costs that will help you to do what you want to do for your future! This will depend on your individual circumstances and where you are living – we can’t pay for everything – but we will always listen to your request and help you as much as we can.
If we cannot pay for everything we can help you to apply to charities to try and get the help you need.
Over 18 years old
Leaving care grant
When you have signed for your permanent council accommodation, your Social Worker will help you to furnish your property through your Leaving Care Grant of £2,000.
This will provide you with the means to purchase essential items to set up your new home. This will include furniture items such as a sofa, bed, washing machine, cooker, fridge-freezer, wardrobe and kitchen utensils.
Paying for university
If you want to go to university for a minimum of two years to study, the Leaving Care Service will provide a Higher Education Bursary of £2,000 per academic year which will be paid in termly instalments throughout the duration of your course.
You will need to ensure that you apply for a student loan, maintenance grants and tuition fee loans as other students do. Don't forget to tick the box that asks if you are a care leaver as this will enable you to receive additional financial support.
Most students decide to move away from home and live near their university in halls of residence or in privately rented accommodation. Some young people who are attending a university closer to home prefer to stay at home, however this will depend upon where you happen to be living at that time. Please note that full-time students on courses of higher education are not eligible for JSA, Income Support or Housing Benefit. Therefore, if you do decided to go to university and are renting accommodation, you will need to budget your bursary and student loan so that you can afford your rent.
If you decide to move to live at university you may not be able to spend the holidays on campus, therefore you'll have to move back to Brent for the holiday period. The Care Planning Service may be able to help you financially with holiday accommodation costs, but please do discuss this with your social worker beforehand.
At age 18 you will be required to apply for benefits depending upon your circumstances. If you are not in full time education, training or employment you will be required to make an application for Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). Jobseekers Allowance is an unemployment benefit paid to people aged 18 and over who are out of work. It is intended to cover living expenses and is paid every two weeks.
There is a requirement for claimants to be actively seeking work and they must show evidence of what steps they have taken every two weeks at signing-on appointments at the Jobcentre. People who claim JSA must sign contract with the Jobcentre and agree to certain tasks in relation to seeking work.
Anyone claiming JSA must ensure they attend all scheduled appointments at the Jobcentre and attend on time or their benefits could be stopped.
If you are in full time education, a lone parent, looking after young children or disabled you should be entitled to apply for Income Support. Income Support is currently paid at £57.90 per week. Additional premiums are paid for those who are disabled and those who have children.
Although you will not need to attend signing-on appointments at the Jobcentre like those who claim JSA, you must still attend any interviews or respond to any correspondence sent to you by the Jobcentre or the Department for Work and Pensions as they could stop payment of your benefit.
If you are eligible to claim benefits this can sometimes be a confusing process. You can find out more on the Department for Work and Pensions website.
Remember to always seek advice before claiming benefits as the benefits system can become complicated.
Sixth form and college
Some young people leaving care go to college or choose sixth form. Others may repeat some of the school work that they have missed so they can retake their GCSEs or take A-Levels.
All courses at sixth form or college are free for anyone who starts before their 19.
Whether you are looking for a job that enables you to carry on learning or are already working and want to gain further qualifications and apprenticeship could be the option for you. You can earn while you learn and learn in a way that is best suited to you through hands on experience on the job.
Training and employment
Care leavers can contact advisers from Connexions – the youth training and advice service - who can provide support, advice and guidance about education, training and employment. They can help you find suitable education and training courses that meet your skills or qualifications.
They can also provide practical help such as accompanying you to open days and helping to give you preparation for job interviews. Do let your personal adviser know if you need to see someone from Connexions for support.
Thinking of going to university?
If you want to go to university for a minimum of two years a Higher Education Bursary of £2,000 for every academic year will be provided which will be paid in termly instalments.
You will need to ensure that you apply for a student loan as other students do. Don't forget to tick the box that asks if you are a care leaver as this will enable you to receive additional financial support.
Most students decide to move away from home and live near their university in halls of residence or in privately rented accommodation.
Some young people who are attending a university closer to home prefer to stay at home; however, this will depend upon where you happen to be living at that time. Please note that full-time students on courses of higher education are not eligible for JSA, Income Support or Housing Benefit. Therefore, if you do decided to go to university and are renting housing, you will need to budget so that you can afford your rent from your bursary and loans.
If you decide to live at university you may not be able to spend the holidays on campus so you'll have to move back to Brent for the holiday period. We may be able to help you financially with holiday accommodation costs, but please do discuss this with your social worker beforehand.
Specialist Nurses for looked after children
There is a small team of specialist nurses for looked after children. Their job is to make sure that you, your carers and your social worker have all the information you need to keep you healthy. They will carry out a health assessment to check you are well and if you need any specialist help or referrals to other medical services, any information or support.
Every looked after child and young person is offered a full health assessment, called an Initial Health Assessment (IHA), when they first come in to care then a Review Health Assessment (RHA) every year until you are 18.
The RHA checks if you are up to date with the recommendations from the IHA care plan, or a previous RHA care plan, and reviews your current state of health and wellbeing. They will also find out if your health needs are being fully met by talking to other people such as the school nurse and your doctor if required.
Specialist nurses also offer advice about keeping healthy.
Health advice and support
Did you know, you can get health advice and support from Looked After Children's Nurses.
They can help you with:
- healthy eating
- quit smoking
- relationship worries
- skin problems
- internet safety
- emotional wellbeing
- behaviour problems
- growing up - body changes
- sexual health
- sexual and gender identity
- drug or alcohol misuse
- medical matters, for example, asthma, diabetes or if you have a long term illness of any kind.
Meet the Looked after Children's Health Team
Lead Doctor for Looked After Children
Dr Sepali Wijesinghe
Telephone: 020 8795 6344
Community Paediatricians for Looked After Children
Dr Arlene Boroda
Dr Katalin Schneider
Telephone: 0208 795 6344
Mobile: 07909 008 940
Mobile: 07909 008 955
Mobile: 07909 008 941
Telephone: 020 8795 6344
Leaving care and my health
If you are 15 or older, Looked After Children nurses will complete a health passport to give you called "Your Health Passport". The Health Passport will give you information about your health from your health records.
The information will include injections you have had, your birth, your health and development, any medicines you take, illnesses you have had, if you are allergic to anything, or if you see any doctors.
You will need to keep the summary in a safe place as you might need your health information when you are older.
If you are 18 and have not received your Health Passport summary, please let us know and we can provide you with one. Its important information for your future.
Need some health advice?
If you are a looked after young person and would like to speak directly to a specialist nurse, you can contact us Monday to Friday between 8.30am and 5pm on 020 8795 6344 or email your question / concern to us.
Your Pathway Plan
When you turn 16, you will have a Pathway Plan which will replace your Care Plan. Pathway Plans are put in place to help you get the support you are entitled to and to help you have a smooth transition into adulthood as you prepare to leave care.
Your Pathway Plan is there to help you to take control of your life and achieve your fullest potential. It is there to help you to plan future goals and tasks and to deal with any worries you have or any challenges you may face. Your Pathway Plan will be written down and you will get a copy of it. You will have this plan until you are 21 or 25 if you remain in education or training.
If you are not happy with something in your pathway plan you can ask for a review at any time. This is because the law says these things must be talked about regularly and that your views must be heard.
Your review is important for you, as it is your chance to say what you are happy or unhappy with.
What does my Pathway Plan cover?
When you're 16 you will be given a need assessment to identify how you will be supported in the following areas:
- what you want to do with your life
- where do you want to live
- what job you want to do and where you want to work
- what education or training you need
- what financial help you need to achieve your ambitions
- your health needs
- who is around to support you.
How is my Pathway Plan reviewed?
Your Pathway Plan should be reviewed at least every six months until you are 21 (or up to the age of 25 if you are on an agreed education or training course).
Your Personal Advisor
When you turn 16, you will be allocated a Personal Advisor. We call them PAs for short.
They will help you to think about your future, what you are studying, what you want to do in the future and your independence skills. Your PA will talk to you and other people who are important to you to find out more about you and what your needs are.
Your PA can help you with lots of things in your life. The main things they will do are:
- be involved in understanding your needs and preparing your Pathway Plan so that you can get a good idea of what you want to do with your life
- review your Pathway Plan at least every six months to help you to stay on track and achieve the things you want from life
- negotiate for you with Brent Council and other organisation’s to make sure you get the help and support you need.
Make the most of your PA – keep in touch!
The relationship between you and your PA is important. To make the most of your PA it is important to keep in touch! Your PA will stay in contact with you until you are at least 21, or 24 f you are in further education.
What can you do if you have a problem?
Try talking to someone who is close to you. This could be:
- a friend
- a relative
- your foster carer
- your social worker
- your keyworker
- an advocate.*
*Advocate: someone who is independent of the Council, who will help you to make your complaint and deal with the Council.
If talking hasn't helped or you feel you have no one you can talk to, please ring us at the Family Services Complaints Team on 020 8937 2444. We will be willing to listen to what you have to say and will try and help to sort things out.
You have the right to make a comment or a complaint about services or accommodation you have received. You might have a suggestion about how things might be done better. You can also get help from the Children's Commisioner website.
Don't be put off - it's your right to have your say.
- Young people's guide to complaints and advocacy
- Young people's guide to the Independent Reviewing Officer
Your Local Offer
As set out in the Children and Social Work Act 2017, we are required to publish a local offer for you as a care leaver. The local offer is a document that provides information about all the services and support that is available to you when you leave care. The document is available by clicking the link below, if you have any queries please speak to your personal advisor.