If you are a ‘relevant child’ it means you were looked after for a relevant period of time but are not looked after anymore.
What are your rights as a relevant child?
Even though you are not in care anymore Children’s Services still legally have to support you.
The law says that Children’s Services must:
- Provide you with a Personal Advisor (sometimes called a PA)
They are similar to Social Workers, but they work with older young people to support them to live independently, or to get them ready to live independently.
- Do a Needs Assessment
A Needs Assessment will look at if you are ready to live on your own. This means that you can do things like cook, wash your own clothes and manage your money.
They will also look at other things such as your health, education and financial needs.
- Make a Pathway Plan
Once they have done the Needs Assessment, they will create a Pathway Plan with you.
This is a really important document and it is vital that you are part of deciding what goes in it. We recommend you take part in the meetings to create your Pathway Plan, even if you don’t like meetings – it’s that important!
Sorted and Supported guide
Our Sorted and Supported guide is for all young people leaving care. It was designed and written for young people with all the information you need about financial support and young people’s rights under the Children (Leaving Care) Act.
Children’s Services must cover the cost of:
- Your accommodation.
- Your living costs – This should be at least the same amount you would get if you were getting job seekers allowance.
- Your education – if you are at college or doing A-levels you must get an education bursary of £1,200.
To work out what other financial help you might need, your Personal Advisor (PA) (see The Name Game, Become) must do a Financial Assessment as part of your Pathway Plan Review (see Pathway to Success, Become).
As part of this, they should talk to you about the money you spend on:
- Accommodation and bills
- Education (books, fees, travel etc.)
- Work (interviews, travel & other work related expenses)
- Training or skills development (e.g. IT course, driving lessons/licence)
- Cultural or religious needs
- Special needs, for example disabilities, pregnancy and parenthood
- Personal documentation (e.g. passport, citizenship)
Based on this, Children’s Services may be able to give you some extra financial support.
Decisions should be based on what you need and Children’s Services should not just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ without thinking carefully about your individual circumstances. If they do just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ automatically this is called ‘having a blanket policy’ and can be challenged.
Decisions will also be based on the specific financial policy that your Children’s Services has (each one will be slightly different). This policy should clearly state what financial support your Children’s Services offers to care leavers and they should give you a copy of this policy.
Remember, Children’s Services are allowed to take into account any money that you get from working, from savings or which you may have inherited. If you are able to pay for things yourself, Children’s Services won’t be expected to cover the cost.
Any financial support that is agreed must be written down in your Pathway Plan and this must be reviewed every six months.
It will be easier for you to get more financial support if you can clearly explain how much money you have and what you spend it on. Make a list of everything you spend money on and then work out whether the money you get every week is enough to cover it.
Be honest and ask yourself whether everything is essential, Children’s Services won’t pay for luxuries. For example, having a winter coat is an essential, having a designer winter coat isn’t.
Also, Children’s Services will expect you to look at the cheapest option. For example, they may ask you to get the bus to college/work instead of getting the train as it is cheaper. This is OK as long as it doesn’t make your journey unreasonable or unsafe. For example, if going by bus means it takes two hours each way and you don’t get home until late at night, you could argue this is unreasonable. It is important to think about the different options before you speak to your PA.
Finally, have a read of your Children’s Services policy on financial support for young people your age.
You can normally find this on your Children’s Services website or you can ask your PA for a copy. This will help you decide what you can expect before you ask your PA for help.