A guide to leaving care

The prospect of leaving care can seem daunting but you are not alone. As your corporate parents, we will support you every step of the way on your journey to independence. We will:

  • make sure that you are safe, healthy and are achieving the goals described in your pathway plan or your Care and Support Plan, if you are disabled
  • do our best to help you achieve your full potential
  • keep in touch and provide you with the support you need to meet your individual needs
  • always care about you
  • make sure that you and people who support you feel safe and supported and know where and who to go to for advice and help.

Who can get this support?

You can get this support if:

  • you have been in care for at least 13 weeks between the ages of 14 and 16 (including your 16th birthday)
  • you have been in care for 13 weeks after your 16th birthday.

How long you can get support for?

Following changes introduced through the Children and Social Work Act 2017, you can ask for support from your personal advisor until you reach the age of 25. This is to make sure care leavers get the same sort of support as young adults who live with their families would normally expect.

The role of your personal advisor

Once you turn 18, in most cases, you’ll no longer have a social worker. Instead, you will have a personal advisor, we call them PAs. Your PA will make sure you get the services you need and help co-ordinate your pathway plan and reviews.

Your PA will:

  • help you to think about your future, what you are studying, what you want to do in the future and your independence skills
  • talk to you and other people who are important to you to find out more about you and your needs
  • 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
  • with your agreement, seek the views of our partner agencies when completing your pathway plan. This may include housing, education, training and employment providers, benefits and health services
  • liaise with youth offending services and probation if needed.

If you are a disabled care leaver and have been assessed to have eligible needs under the Care Act 2014, a social worker will regularly review your Care and Support Plan to ensure that the right support is in place to meet your assessed needs. The Care and Support Plan must be reviewed at least once a year.

In this section, you will find information about the continued support you will get from us when you leave care. 

Education, employment and training

We want you to achieve the best qualifications, training and skills to enable you to succeed in life. We will make sure you get good advice, support and assistance to help you find the right career and job that goes with it.

If you have an Education Health and Care Plan, the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2014 states that your plan will need to be maintained and reviewed by our Special Education Needs team until you reach the goals set out in the plan, or your 25th birthday. [GR1] [AA2] The law says that if you cannot access funding assistance from any other agency we can help you with expenses linked with employment, education and training.

Going to university

If you chose to go to university, we will:

  • help you to apply for grants and maintenance loans
  • provide you with a Higher Education (HE) bursary of £2,000 to help with books and materials (this will be paid in instalments over the duration of your course)
  • provide somewhere for you to stay during your summer university holiday (or funding if you would prefer to make your own arrangements). We will only pay your rent if you cannot claim housing benefit or universal credit. Your maintenance and student loan should cover your rent during the Christmas and Easter breaks. If you think this will cause you financial hardship, please contact your personal advisor who might be able to help.

Doing an apprenticeship

If you choose to do an apprenticeship, we:

  • provide a traineeship programme for all care leavers, who do not have the required qualification and skills to apply for an apprenticeship scheme. This is offered twice a year in partnership with Brent Employment Skills & Enterprise
  • will tell you about local apprenticeship opportunities and share details with you and your personal advisors through various channels such as WhatsApp group and the care leavers’ hub
  • offer up to 10 apprenticeships arranged by the council on an annual basis

Our other education and training support offer to you includes:

  • A guaranteed offer of a careers appointment with Brent Virtual School to discuss your career options post 18;
  • Support to meet your transport costs when travelling to training, college, apprenticeships or job interviews, if not available elsewhere, ie the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or college;
  • Support to buy tools, equipment, essential clothing and books, if you cannot get them from your local college or through the DWP;
  • In partnership with Brent Works, we will send your PA details of employment, training and apprenticeship opportunities within the Council or elsewhere;
  • A DWP worker, seconded to the leaving care team, who will assist you in claiming benefits and avoid you getting undue benefit sanctions;
  • A celebration event to share the positive education and training experiences of care leavers once a year;
  • Volunteering opportunities for care leavers;
  • An annual review of your education health and care plan in line with SEND Code of Practice.

Accommodation

Your PA will help you to find suitable accommodation and we will help you to get the most suitable housing options.

We will encourage you to stay in care until you are 18, but if you choose to leave care before we will provide you with suitable accommodation.

Our accommodation offer to you includes:

  • supported accommodation if you are not ready to take up your own tenancy yet
  • help to remain with your foster carers, under what’s called a ‘Staying Put’ arrangement, when it is assessed to be in your best interest. This will be reviewed every six months to make sure it is meeting your needs
  • a care package to support you and your parents if it is safe for you to return to your family and if you have a disability and have been assessed to have eligible needs under the Care Act 2014
  • supported lodgings if you have a disability and have been assessed to have eligible needs under the Care Act 2014.
  • residential care if you have a profound disability and have been assessed to have eligible needs under the Care Act 2014.

When you are ready to live on your own, you can apply to Brent Council for social housing (this is accommodation managed by a housing association or us).

Your PA will speak to the nominated housing officer, who works with the leaving care team. As a care leaver you will be given priority, and will get:

  • access to a housing support to help you to manage your property
  • to go to events that will offer you advice and tips on living on your own, managing money, paying bills and budgeting effectively
  • a ‘Setting up Home Allowance’ of £2,000 (based on your needs) for the things you need to set up home like appliances, bedding and furniture
  • a decorating allowance (if housed in a Brent Housing property) to buy paint or wallpaper
  • advice on how to avoid becoming intentionally homeless and what to do if you run into problems with your tenancy.

If you have friends, family or connections that live outside of Brent, your PA can make contact with the Local Authority where you wish to live, to see if they can help you find somewhere to live.

Your Health and Wellbeing

Looking after your physical health and mental wellbeing is extremely important as you get older.

We will arrange advice and support you to lead a healthy and active lifestyle.

Your PA can:

  • provide you with a health passport
  • help you to register with a local doctor
  • give you information on healthy living including ‘Staying Healthy’ sessions
  • refer you to counselling, including both telephone and face-to-face ‘talking therapies’, or for general advice to The Mix

Depending on your situation, we can also help with:

  • getting you a health consultation before your 18th birthday. This will help you social workers and PA to give you the best advice on how to look after your health and well-being
  • parenting support, if you are a young parent by arranging referrals to a local family well-being centre
  • covering certain medical costs, if they are not covered by the NHS, (this will depend on assessment of need)
  • resettlement and aftercare support if you are or have been in custody
  • organising an annual health check with a doctor, if you have been diagnosed with ASD or Learning Disability and have eligible needs under the Care Act 2014.

Finances

We will support you to become financially independent, just as other parents support their children. Our help includes:

  • providing funding towards costs around education, employment or training
  • helping you to access other sources of funding, such as grants or loans from college, university or the DWP
  • exemption from paying Council Tax (only after you have maximised the Council Tax rebate because you are on a low income or receiving universal credit)
  • providing you with advice, training and support on managing your money including;
    • opening a bank account
    • applying for benefits
    • accessing your Junior ISA, if you have one (a fund of money set aside by the government and the council)
  • help applying for important identification documents, such as a passport, National Insurance number or a provisional driving licence (before your 18th birthday)
  • giving you details of relevant charities or organisations that can provide advice on immigration matters
  • emergency financial support, based on the results of an assessment undertaken by your PA

You will also receive a leaving care guide that we have produced based on the feedback we have received from our young people in care.

Relationships

We recognise how important making friends and developing relationships is to your overall wellbeing. As well as support from a personal adviser, we may be able to offer you additional practical and emotional support, including:

  • details of advocacy services
  • where appropriate, continuing to support contact with the ‘independent visitor’ you had while you were in care
  • help to maintain or regain contact with people special to you or who cared for you in the past, like former foster carers or social workers
  • life skills workshops that will focus on practical skills and managing relationships
  • groups and activities for young parents regarding healthy relationships
  • group work with former Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children regarding relationships to minimise risks of isolation
  • relationship building workshops for care leavers with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
  • support around building relationships with your family and/or support networks.

Participation in the community

We want you to be active members of your community, and to have all the chances in life that other young adults have. We can help you participate in the following ways:

  • helping you to understand more about participation in society and how to make your voice heard, with workshops led by the Chief Executive of the council
  • encouraging and helping you to enrol on the Electoral Register, so you can vote in elections
  • providing information on groups and clubs you may wish to join
  • the development of a website for care leavers and an app to support independent living arrangements
  • providing seats on Brent Youth Parliament
  • free tickets to see events at the Kiln Theatre
  • telling you about voluntary work that you may be interested in
  • giving you advice and helping you to challenge any discrimination you face as a care leaver
  • monthly events which are organised by care leavers and personal advisors
  • weekly football practice for all care leavers in Brent.

As a care leaver, you will also have access to our Children and Young People’s participation service called Care Leavers in Action (CLIA). Through the CLIA, you can share your views and be involved in decision making on matters that affect children in care and care leavers or join an interview panel when recruiting senior staff and commissioned services to the council.

Support groups that can help you

We have put together a list of useful contact details. If there is anything you do not understand or need further information about then please speak to your PA.

Brent Leaving Care Team

We work at the Brent Civic Centre and are open from Monday to Friday 9 a.m. – 5.00 pm.

How to contact us:

  • Duty Number 0208 379 4612 or 4613 during office hours
  • 24-hour emergency number 0208 863 5250 

Independent Advocacy

If you don’t agree with a decision that has been made about you and the care you get from us, you can ask for the help of an advocate. An advocate is someone who is independent of the council. They can tell you about your rights and help you to get your views heard in meetings.

All looked after children and care leavers in Brent have a right to support from an independent advocate. In Brent, we use an independent agency called Coram Voice.

Brent Works

This is a free service which provides job and apprenticeship opportunities for care leavers, across a range of sectors. The service gives you:

  • personalised advice and guidance on finding work
  • opportunity to work with training providers to upskill and provide you for employment
  • a one-to-one consultation with an advisor (this can be arranged through your personal advisor or you can contact Brent Works directly on 0208 937 6295).

Participation Service

You can get involved with Care Leavers in Action by contacting:

Safe Base Brent: Promotes Social, Emotional and Mental Health and Wellbeing Dr Verity Alexis is available on 0208 937 3063 or email: Verity.alexis@brent.gov.uk.

Brent Care Leavers Charter

Disabled Children and Young People Service Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley

When we are open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. How to contact us Duty number 7 VO3

National support groups