I have a disability, but how do I know if I am also a care leaver?
If you believe you were “in care” or “looked after” on or after your 16th birthday and that this lasted for 13 weeks or more, it is likely you are a care leaver.
Sometimes it can be hard to know if you were “looked after” if you lived somewhere like a residential school or home for young people with disabilities, or if you lived with your family but had lots of short breaks.
If you are unsure whether you are a care leaver, you can contact our Advocacy Helpline. If you are unable to call us yourself, ask someone you trust to make the call.
I have a social worker who works in a team for adults with disabilities and I am also a care leaver. Should I have a personal adviser as well as a social worker?
All care leavers (“former relevant children”) should have a personal adviser (PA) until they are 21. A care leaver over 21 can also ask for help from a PA until they are 25. The PA should be updating your pathway plan, giving you advice and making sure you know how to get the support you need. You will have the right to a PA and pathway plan even if an adult social work team or health team is supporting you.
A disabled care leaver has the same rights as any other care leaver. If your local authority refuses to provide you with this support just because you have a disability, this is against the law. If you need advice on this you can contact our Advocacy Helpline.
What if I have a personal adviser, but I also want help from adult social care because of my disability?
If you are about to turn 18 and feel that you will need support as an adult because of your disability, you can ask for a transition assessment. If you are already 18, you can ask for a care act assessment. If you are not sure who to talk to about this, you can ask your PA to help. If you are still having problems getting the assessment after that, you may need an advocate to help you. (If you don’t have an advocate, contact our Advocacy Helpline).
People are making decisions for me about what I can and can’t do because of my disability. Is that OK?
You should be involved in any decisions about your life. Social workers and other professionals should give you the right help and information to decide things for yourself wherever possible, even if you are finding it hard to understand something.
If a social worker has a reason to think you can’t make a decision by yourself, they may need to do an assessment about that decision. Even if other people need to be involved in deciding what is best for you, social workers still have to ask what you want.
If you feel like people are making decisions without listening to your opinion, an advocate can help you to challenge this. If you need an advocate, contact our Advocacy Helpline.
I need help to look after my money or understand bills. Who should be helping me with that?
Some people with disabilities need more help than others to look after their money. If you have a social worker or PA, tell them if you are struggling. Your social worker and PA should make sure that you have a bank account and you know how to budget, pay bills and manage your money.
If you are unable to do this by yourself, there needs to be a clear, agreed plan about who helps or does this for you. If you feel you are not getting the support you need with money, speak to your advocate or contact our Advocacy Helpline.
There may also be extra money that you can ask for as a care leaver, like a setting up home allowance.
I need extra help because of my disability, like therapy or equipment, or extra help at college. Who can I ask?
The leaving care team may not be the team that pays for or organises all the support you need, but they should help to make sure you get that support. If something changes in your life and you are struggling, you can ask for a pathway plan review. You can also ask your PA to make changes to how they work or communicate with you, because of your disability.
If you feel like your PA is not being helpful or understanding about your needs, you can speak to your advocate or contact our Advocacy Helpline.