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National Care Leavers’ Week 2022

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Turning 18 should be an exciting time full of promise for the future. It can also be a strange and scary chapter in teenage life. For care-experienced young people, who at 18 are transitioning out of the care system, this can feel like falling off a cliff. The regular support relied upon throughout difficult times is significantly reduced. Therefore, the fantastic work that our social workers do must be celebrated. National Care Leavers’ Week is also an opportunity to discuss how we can make leaving care a successful transition, and this post is focused on how we can help make it as positive as possible.

When is National Care Leaver’s Week?

This year, National Care Leavers’ Week is between the 24th-28th October. Many organisations across the UK are recognising what care-experienced young people go through as they start out on their independent lives. This is an important week to:

  • Celebrate the rights and entitlements of care experienced young people.
  • Hear their voices and highlight their achievements.
  • Share stories of challenging transitions alongside success stories. 
  • Recognise the fantastic work that our social care and support workers do.
  • Work together so that care leavers are able to feel confident, supported, safe and ready for their futures.

What Kind of Support are Care Leavers Entitled to?

An individual’s care status depends on the length of time spent in care and the age at which they left. They are either recognised as a ‘Former Relevant Child‘,  a ‘Relevant Child‘ or a ‘Qualifying Care Leaver.’ This status defines what level of support a care-leaver is entitled to. This support ranges from advice and assistance from the Local Authority to financial support for setting up a home and receiving further education.

It has been argued that support entitlements should be less restricted, and matched to the individual’s needs, since care statuses do not always tell the whole story.

What Kind of Support do Care Leavers Need?

Below we consider some of the key areas in which care leavers are likely to need support:

Practical Advice for Living Independently

Living alone for the first time comes with a whole host of challenges. Tenancy agreements. Getting a good deal on new furniture. Budgeting with a Leaving Care Grant sensibly. Additional support and advice for care leavers around the practical aspects of becoming independent are vital.

Social workers play a crucial role in providing care leavers with a clear Pathway Plan, with pointers on where to find the information they need (for leavers with the status ‘Relevant Child’ and ‘Former Relevant Child’). A Pathway Plan will set out the individual’s views, needs, goals and outline the support required.

Being Empowered to become Independent

Listening to people in care and care leavers about how they want to live their lives and the support they need is crucial. Care leavers should feel empowered and that they have a say in their futures. Social workers provide a caring ear and important words of advice throughout their time together. They can also refer any issues or complaints to the Local Authority to help make sure the right support is accessible.

Emotional Support

Beyond the physical transition of beginning to live independently, leaving care is also an emotional transition. It is possible that young people in care have spent much of their time in care navigating the challenges of living with another family or in another care setting. They may not have taken the time to reflect on their upbringing and how they got to where they are. This level of soul-searching and self-discovery is likely to be quite a turbulent process. Care leavers should be supported as they process this information.

How do Social Workers support care leavers through this process?

Social workers support children up until the age of 18. Care leavers will be introduced to a personal adviser at the age of 16 who will work alongside the social worker. Personal advisers will work with a young person until the age of 21 (or 25 if they are in full-time education). Social Workers may have built up long-term supportive relationships with young people. Therefore, facilitating the care leaver getting to know their PA is an essential aspect of the transition.

Helpful Resources:

Thank you for reading our post this Care Leavers’ Week. We’re proud of the social workers who each and every day make a difference in the lives of young people. If you are interested in working in this area get in touch with the team:

e: info@prosperohealthandsocial.com

t:020 3319 3619

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