Leaving Local Authority Care

Leaving care is probably one of the most difficult times in a young person’s life so it is essential that they are properly prepared and ready for the challenge.

In an attempt to give clarity for both carers and young people it is important that the route towards independence is clearly mapped out so that information is available as to how and when it will happen and who will be involved at the various stages.


With this very much in mind the department developed its Leaving Care Service which is a dedicated team of workers whose prime role is to help to prepare young people for leaving care and support them once living independently.  


We are guided by various pieces of legislation which outline the responsibilities placed upon us in relation to children looked after. There are a number of key themes within the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 which underpin our work with young people. Some of these are:

  • Look after young people until they are prepared and ready to leave care
  • Ensure that there is contingency provision to support care leavers in the event of a crisis
  • Inform young people leaving care of the available services - including the provision of accessible leaving care guides
  • Involve young people in all assessment, planning, review and decision making arrangements for leaving care
  • Ensure young people leaving care have access to a range of accommodation and the support and skills to maintain themselves in their accommodation

Clearly a huge investment is made in ensuring that young people are offered a very high standard of care whilst they are looked after by the department. It is our paramount aim to ensure that at the point of leaving care, a continuing high standard of support is offered which will enable the transition towards independence to be manageable and a positive experience.

  •  Children's Act 2000
    With the introduction of the Children [Leaving Care] Act 2000 new terms have been introduced which identify different categories of young people and highlight the requirements of the local authority. Briefly the ones which have most significance will be:


    Eligible Children are children aged 16 and 17 years, who have been looked after for at least 13 weeks since they reached 14 years and are still being looked after. These will be the young people fostered, or in residential care and we will be required to assess and plan for their eventual independence. The plan is known as the Pathway Plan and it should be in place no later than 3 months after the young person’s 16th birthday.


    Relevant children are aged 16 & 17 and have been looked after for 13 weeks since the age of 14 and have left care.


    Former relevant children are aged 18 – 21 who have been either eligible or relevant children (or both). If at 21, the authority is helping the young person with education or training, he/she remains a former relevant child until the end of the agreed programme of education or training.


    Qualifying children and young people over 16 are young people under the age of 21 (24 if in education or training) who cease to be looked after or accommodated in a variety of other settings, or privately fostered, after the age of 16.

  •  Pathway Plan

    This outlines how we will meet the needs of a young person after they leave care and will make sure that the important aspects of a young persons life are addressed:

      • Health and development
      • Education, training or employment
      • Support available from family and others
      • Financial needs
      • Level of skills in readiness for independence
      • The young person's needs for care, support and accommodation


    The plan will run until the young person is at least 21yrs and will be reviewed at 6 monthly intervals. This can extend until 24 yrs if the young person is pursuing further education.


    General Information

    We always aim to become involved in the planning for leaving care when a young person reaches 15 yrs 6mths. The young person's Social Worker invites a Leaving Care worker, to attend a statutory review to meet the young person and give information about leaving care.


    At this review if the decision is that the young person will live independently upon leaving care, a Personal Advisor is appointed from the team to become involved. They will begin work preparing the Pathway Plan with the young person and help guide them through the leaving care process. They will play a key co-ordinating role in respect to education, training and employment and will be able to advise about accommodation options. 


    The Advisor will remain involved in the long term and will certainly be a key figure in helping the young person to prepare and plan for their future. The Advisor  will continue to be responsible after the young person leaves care and will remain involved for as long as there is an assessed need. It is our uppermost intention to ensure that any changes are known about as early as possible and are managed sensitively and positively.


    A duty has now been placed upon departments to keep in touch with young people up to the age of 21 yrs, which includes taking reasonable steps to re-establish contact if it is lost. Additionally those pursuing further education/training will continue to have contact up until 24 yrs. 



    One of the most significant aspects of the new Act is the removal of benefit entitlement for Relevant Children (young people aged 16 and 17 who have been looked after for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14 and who have left care). This is designed to remove the perceived incentive for local authorities to "encourage" young people to leave care at 16 therefore moving the financial responsibility to the agencies providing state benefits.


    These young people (with a few exceptions) will no longer be able to claim Housing Benefit, Job-Seekers Allowance or Income Support. Although the local authority will be given some flexibility in interpreting their financial responsibility, these young people should receive a level of support that does not come to less than they would have been eligible for if they could have claimed benefits.

  •  My Planner
    My Planner has been produced by the Children's Commissioner for Wales and is designed to give help and advice for young people leaving local authority care.


    My Planner



For more information contact:

Team Manager Fifteen Plus

Children and Young People Services,

Dock Offices

Subway Road

Barry, CF63 4RT

  • 01446 725202