Information for care leavers

If you:

  • are 16 to 25 years old, and
  • were 'Looked After' by Cambridgeshire County Council (in care) for 13 weeks or more following your 16th birthday

you are entitled to care leaver's support.

You can also qualify for support, if

  • you were ‘looked after’ before a Special Guardianship Order was made
  • you were privately fostered after the age of 16.

If you have special educational needs and/or disabilities there is a ‘Local Offer’ that describes the help you can expect in your local area.

Further information is available on the Cambridgeshire SEND Local Offer section of the Cambridgeshire County Council website.

About Cambridgeshire's local offer - Cambridgeshire County Council

If you live in Cambridgeshire but were looked after by a different Local Authority, please contact that local authority to find out what you are entitled to.

See different authorities' Local Offers

Your Personal Adviser or Social worker will make contact with you to ensure you have the support you need and to help prepare you to move forward.  We will work with you to look at your work or training aspirations, support you financially, help to plan for your release and keep your Pathway Plan on track.

Support from your personal adviser

You can ask for support from your Personal Adviser up to the age of 25. Your Personal Adviser can help you to become independent, and offer information, advice and support when you leave care. Sometimes, the role of the Personal Adviser is undertaken by a Social Worker. The support you will receive will be recorded in a Pathway plan.

  • For Care Leavers aged 16-17- the Local Authority must provide accommodation as well as support from a Personal Adviser. This does not apply once you are over 18.
  • For Care Leavers aged 18-20 - there is a duty on the Local Authority to a Personal Adviser, create a Pathway Plan and visit you every 8 weeks.
  • For Care Leavers aged 21-24 in Education - the support provisions remain the same as they are when you were 18-20.
  • For Care Leavers aged 21-24 not in Education - you will need to request our support, our Leaving Care team will assess your needs. It may be that it is more suitable to help you access other organisations that can help you.

If you would like to speak to someone or need advice, please contact your Personal Adviser. If they are not available, or if you do not have a Personal Adviser or social worker, please call the duty worker. Telephone: 01480 379493 (9am to 5pm).

If an emergency occurs out of office hours, call the Emergency Duty Service. Telephone: 01733 234724. (out of office hours)

Most young people still live at home with their families at this age. We would encourage you to stay in your care placement until you are 18. Unless you are able to return home or move to live with friends or family, before this age. But, as long as you qualify, you will still be entitled to support and services if you leave ‘care’ before this age.

If you are under 18 and still a ‘Looked After Child’, we have a legal duty to see you regularly. Usually at least every six weeks. This has to involve a face-to-face visit but we can come and see you where you would like to meet us. This could be at your home, college, or wherever you choose.

If you get asylum status the Home Office will issue you with a biometric card. This card proves that you are entitled to services. You may need to show it for example at the bank, the Department of Work and Pensions or at college. You do not need to carry this card around with you. In Great Britain citizens do not need to carry proof of identity. It is better to keep the card in a safe place and only take it out when you need to.

Once an asylum claim has been accepted you can claim benefits such as housing benefit to pay for your accommodation. For more information, talk to your Personal Adviser.

Whatever your situation, you will have a contact number and know how to contact us when you need us. Sometimes other agencies in the community can provide what you need and we will help you to access this.

  • If you do not have a Personal Adviser or social worker, please call the duty worker. Telephone: 01480 372463 (9am to 5pm).
  • If an emergency occurs out of office hours, call the Emergency Duty Service. Telephone: 01733 234724. (out of office hours)
  • If you are aged 21-25 and your case has been closed - find out more about re-opening it and getting support from a Personal Adviser.

Care Leavers Covenant

Each Local Authority will look at using its own resources and making links in the community to support you as you turn 18 and become more independent, but there is also a national organisation called The Care Leavers Covenant, who work to encourage companies, charities, and other government organisations to pledge to support you further.

This could be ring-fenced job opportunities, work experience, or free or discounted goods and services.

Care Leavers Covenant website

Feedback and complaints

If you are unhappy about any aspect of the support you receive, please talk to your Personal Adviser / Social Worker. They will want to help sort it out. If you would rather talk to someone else, you can ask to speak to their manager.

Alternatively, you can contact the Customer Care Team:
New Shire Hall
Emery Crescent
Enterprise Campus
Alconbury Weald
Huntingdon
PE28 4YE


Telephone: 01223 699 664
Text: 07795 092 404
Email: Childrens.ServicesFeedback@Cambridgeshire.gov.uk

NYAS is an independent organisation. To request a NYAS advocate to assist you with a complaint or other concern, call 0800 808 1001 or email help@nyas.net or look on the NYAS website

Pathway plans

Every looked-after child will start working on a Pathway Plan - usually around the age of 16. It is a legal requirement that sets out:

  • what do you want to do
  • what support do you need
  • how the Council will work with you to get it.

It gives you the chance to make sure your views are heard.

This is about your life, feelings, needs, and the people around you. It is important you input as much as possible and be honest when completing it.

  • Other people can be asked about your plan, such as family, teachers, foster carers, IROs, but not without your knowledge.
  • The last year of your pathway plan will focus on support you can get while living independently. It will detail who is there to help you, what they can do, and how you can contact them.

You will discuss the following themes as you create your plan.

  • Health and wellbeing - Any health issues you have and how the council will help you manage them. This includes your aspirations around staying fit and healthy and understanding your wellbeing.
  • Employment, Education, and Training - Your career goals and any obstacles stopping you from achieving these. This includes clear aims for you to meet and how we will support you to achieve this.
  • Family and social network - The relationships you have with the people around you, both professional and personal. How they support you, and who you can rely on when you need help. This includes if you are not happy with your family contact arrangements.
  • Identity - This includes your religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other ways you identify yourself. This is important so we know how to support you. We will also ensure you have the right ID documents and access to your files.
  • Independence - We will look at what skills you feel you may need for life as an adult. We will include what you feel you need to live independently and how we will help you achieve this.
  • Money - You can get various financial support, based on your situation and eligibility. you will also discuss budgeting, savings and any money worry you may have.
  • Where you live - We will assess your accommodation, both current and planned to check it is suitable for you. This includes location, safety, and bills. We can explore future opportunities for example plans to move to independent accommodation.

Pathway plans are reviewed at least every six months with your Personal Adviser or Social Worker. You can ask to review your plan at any time. Please let us know if there are any big changes in your life, as your plan should be updated to reflect these.

Who is who

Your transition from care can be daunting. You will be introduced to many different people who can helping you. Here is a guide of the people you may meet and what they do.

If you are in care you will have a Social Worker. They make decisions about your care and manage your care plan. They will be in regular contact with you and visit you at least every six weeks.

They will listen to you and include your wishes and feelings in your care plan. They will explain decisions and ensure you know how to get your voice heard. You will have your social workers' details if you ever need to contact them.

If you are over 16 or a Care Leaver you will have a Personal Adviser. They will help with care planning and complete your pathway plan reviews until you’re 21. (Or older if you’re in education or training).

They should stay in regular contact. They will help you to get education, training and employment. They also advise on things like housing, money, health and wellbeing to ensure you’re ready to live independently.

They decide who your social worker or Personal Adviser is and make sure they’re doing a good job. While providing advice and approving decisions.

They may attend meetings where important things are discussed. Understanding your views helps them to make sure things get done.

If you’re in care, you will have an Independent Reviewing Officer. They will manage your care planning meetings and ensure the decisions made are acted on. If you have siblings in care, they should have the same Independent Reviewing Officer as you.

They will make sure decisions made are in your best interests.They will also tell you how to make a complaint and will try to resolve any disagreements you have about the services you receive. They will stand up for your rights.

They are in charge of Children’s Services. They make sure that the service does the best it can, to keep you safe, and make sure schools are of a high standard.

You might never see the Director of Children’s Services, but it’s their job to give you the best possible service.

If you’re in care, you’re legally entitled to an advocate. Advocates usually work for independent organisations. Children’s Rights Officers work for the council. Their roles are the same though.

They make sure your voice is heard, and listen to you. They will help you make a complaint. They will check you’re getting what you’re entitled to and that you understand your rights. They can attend important meetings with you.

They work closely with the Care Leaver Forum, making sure young people’s views on services are heard. They also support the Young Inspectors, Young Trainers and Young Recruiters.

They are volunteers who aren’t connected to the council, who befriend and support children in care (like a mentor). If you’re in care, the law says that you must be offered the chance to have an Independent Visitor.

They’ll be someone to talk to, give advice, support you and be a friend.

They will check your school or college understands the issues that might affect your education. They keep track of how you, and all children in care, are doing. They will also be responsible for your Personal Education Plan (PEP).

They’ll help your school or college support your needs. Check that you are involved in setting learning goals, and that there’s a smooth transition if you change courses.

If you’re in care, you should have a health assessment every year. This is overseen by the Designated Nurse. They’ll work with your social worker to ensure your health needs are met.

They understand issues facing children in care and give advice and support with this in mind.