Being in care or a care leaver – Important words and what they mean (English)


Being in Care If you are supported by social services and have a social worker it is called ‘being in care’ or ‘being looked after’.

If you are in care you might live with a foster carer or in a shared house with key workers who are staff there to support you.

Local Council / Local Authority The local part of the government who are responsible for services (things like schools, housing and care for people who need support) in each area in the country (for example Manchester City or Southwark or Brent in London).

Social services is part of the local council.

Social Services / Children’s Services The department in your local council who is responsible for supporting you if you are a child or young person in this country without your parents or other family member to live with and look after you.
Care Leaver If you’re aged 16 and over and in care you should be supported to plan for when you turn 18.

When you turn 18 you are called a ‘care leaver’. You are expected to be more independent and manage more things for yourself but your local council still has a responsibility to support you up until you are 25.

They should help with housing, education and other support you need.

Pathway Plan The Pathway Plan is a really important part of leaving care. It is a legal document that must include what support you will get from social services to help you live independently and achieve your goals.

You and your social worker or PA should work together on your Pathway Plan from when you turn 16.

Your Plan should be reviewed every 6 months to make sure it is still right for you.


Care Leaver’s Local Offer This a document you can find on your council’s website. It has information on the support the council gives to care leavers. It lists what support is available and what care leavers should get.



Money you can apply for to help pay for travel, books or course fees for university or college. You should ask your PA about this.
Leaving Home Allowance / Setting up home grant Money that comes from social services to help you buy the things you need when you move into a new flat for example furniture, a fridge, a kettle and saucepans.
Council Tax Exemption Council tax is money you pay to your local council if you’re 18 or over and own or rent a home.

If you get ‘council tax exemption’ or you are ‘exempt from paying council tax’ it means you don’t have to pay it.



Social Worker Your social worker works for the local council. They are the main person in the council you should talk to when you need something.

PA (Personal Advisor) This is like a social worker but for care leavers.  They should give you support until you are 25 years old if you want or need it.
Foster Carer Someone you live with in their home if you are in care. They act as your parent until you turn 18, sometimes longer. They cook for you and look after you.
Key Worker If you are under 18 and living in a shared home with other young people there will be key workers to support you and other young people in the home.
Translator / Interpreter A person who changes the words of people who speak different languages so they can understand each other.
Advocate Someone who doesn’t work for your council who helps you with advice about your rights and anything you’re not happy with in your council, for example if you’re not getting the support you need.
Solicitor / Lawyer Someone who knows about the law. They can give you legal advice and help you if your local council are not giving you what you the law says you should get.