It’s important for you to know what your options are and who can help you make them happen.
Here is some key information based on the questions we hear the most.
Rights in care as a 16 year old
When you turn 16, things change a little.
You may still be in care, living with your foster carers or in the children’s home, but you are now also a care leaver.
It is important Children’s Services support you to live independently over the next few years.
- Provide you with a Personal Advisor (sometimes called a PA)
They are similar to Social Workers, but they work with older young people, supporting them to live independently, or to get ready to live independently.
- Do a Needs Assessment
This will decide 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 important you are part of deciding what goes in it.
We recommend that you take part in the meetings to create your Pathway Plan even if you don’t like meetings – it’s that important!
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.
Living independently is part of your leaving care plan but it is a big decision.
Once you turn 16 you should have a Pathway Plan. This will decide when you will be ready to live independently. This should be reviewed every six months, so as things change your independent living plan will too.
Once Children’s Services agree that you are ready to live independently, they must hold a LAC Review before you can move out of your foster placement or children’s home.
Finding suitable accommodation
After the LAC review Children’s Services must find you “suitable accommodation”.
This means checking:
- If it is safe for you
Does it have everything you need? Is it well looked after?
- The location
Can you get to school/college/work easily? Does it meet any special health needs you have? Can you afford to pay the rent and bills?
- Who the landlord is
Are they trustworthy? Are they OK to provide accommodation to a care leaver?
- If it is somewhere that you would like to live?
Your views as to where you would like to live are really important.
There are lots of different types of accommodation you could be moved into.
- Supported lodgings
This is when you are living in someone’s home (this may be with a family, couple or single person) where you have your own room, but share the kitchen and bathroom facilities.
- Foyers and other supported housing
This can be a house for five or more young people, or a larger hostel for up to 100 people. You would have your own room but shared kitchen and bathroom facilities.
There are staff on site to support you.
- Trainer flats
This is when you live in your own flat, but without holding the tenancy so you can ‘practice’ living on your own.
What is not acceptable?
Bed and breakfast accommodation is not suitable for care leavers and you must not be placed there.
They can place you in bed and breakfast if it’s the only option in a real emergency but you shouldn’t be there for more than two working days while Children’s Services find you something better.
What happens when they find a place for you to live?
Once Children’s Services have found a suitable place for you to live, they should arrange for you to visit and see the property before you move.
Once you move in you will continue to be supported.
There is loads more information about the support that you can expect on this website.
Living independently is a really big step. Your social worker or PA will assess whether you are ready, so it is important you think about this before suggesting it.
- Would I feel safe on my own?
- Would I be lonely or worried without my carers there?
- Do I know how to cook, clean and wash my clothes?
- How well do I manage my money?
- Do I know how to budget my money so I don’t spend it all at once?
If the answer to any these questions is “no”, then maybe you are not ready just yet.
If so, think about what you need to learn or what needs to change so that you will be ready to live on your own. Speak to your social worker or PA so they can help you learn and be prepared.
If you do feel ready, it would be good to think about where you would like to live.
- Do I want to live with other people?
You will probably be placed in a place with other young people; do you feel OK about this?
- Do I need to have people around who can help me with some stuff?
Some independent placements have support workers to do this, so it is good to know what level of support you think you might need.
- Where do I need to live to be able to travel to school/college/work or to see my family and friends?
How far will you be from the people and places in your life?