Preparation for Leaving Care


Regulation 5 – Engaging with the Wider System to Ensure Each Child’s Needs are Met

The Care Planning Standard

The Children’s Views, Wishes and Feelings Standard

The Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010


Arrangements for young people Leaving Care are the responsibility of the Placing Authority; therefore managers and staff should obtain copies of procedures from relevant authorities and assist social workers in implementing them. 

This chapter summarises the key terms and responsibilities in relation to Leaving Care and what steps should be taken by homes in relation to them.

SeeChildren Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers and The Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010.


This chapter was significantly amended in April 2013 and should be re-read in its entirety.


  1. Introduction
  2. Definitions
  3. Key Responsibilities

1. Introduction

When a Child in our care reaches their 16th birthday we need to start (where we have not already done so) considering all of the inputs that we can contribute to ensure that we are helping them plan a smooth path for a successful transition into adulthood.

The responsible authority will appoint a Personal Adviser (this will usually be at the first review after the young person turns 16), the Personal Adviser will ideally be an individual known to the young person - their connexions worker, their own social worker or it may be an individual unknown to the young person such as an appointed member of the leaving care team from the responsible authority (the young person should be entitled to make recommendations as to whom they would prefer to be their Personal Adviser. The young person should be made aware as to how to make a complaint regarding the appointment of their Personal Adviser).

Where the child reaches the age of 16 and at subsequent care planning reviews a Personal Adviser has not been appointed and/or introduced to the young person, the Keyworker should approach the Responsible Authority to raise the concern as to the absence of the Personal Adviser.

Whether you are the child’s keyworker or not, all staff have a duty to promote the opportunities available to the young people in their care and to all Care Leavers. Staff should all take a keen interest in individual Preparation for Leaving Care Plans and should help each individual Young Person to understand the detail of their plan including the financial support available and why the different stages and achievements are valuable and necessary. Young people should be encouraged to remain in education where possible or take up training opportunities and activities to improve their chance of employability.

We need to ensure that we are investing in the young people that are currently in our care, it is often useful to ask oneself - if this was my child/sibling what would I be doing to help them prepare for the big wide world? What would I want someone else to be doing now to help my child/sibling if I could not be with them to guide and support them.

2. Definitions

Normally the definitions of the following terms are found in Keywords Appendix, but a number relate primarily to this chapter; therefore they have also been summarised below. 

Other Keywords, which are not specific to this procedure are defined in Keywords Appendix.

2.1 Eligible Young People

They are aged 16 or 17, have been Looked After for a period or periods totalling at least 13 weeks starting after their 14th birthday and are still Looked After. (This total does not include a series of short term placements of up to four weeks where the child has returned to the parent.) There is a duty to support these young people up to the age of 18.

2.2 Relevant Young People

They are aged 16 or 17 and are no longer Looked After, having previously been in the category of Eligible Young Person when Looked After. However, if after leaving the looked after service, a young person returns home for a period of 6 months or more to be cared for by a parent, he or she will no longer be a "relevant young person". A young person is also "relevant" if, having been looked after for three months or more, he or she is then detained after their 16th birthday either in hospital, remand centre, young offenders' institution or secure training centre. There is a duty to support relevant young people up to the age of 18.

2.3 Former Relevant Young People

They are aged 18 to 21 (or up to 24 if in full-time further or higher education), and have left the Looked After service having been previously either "eligible", "relevant" or both. There is a duty to consider the need to support these young people. Placing authorities also have a duty to pay a higher education bursary.

2.4 Qualifying Young People

They are over the age of 16 and under the age of 21, and have been Looked After or, if disabled, Privately Fostered after reaching 16, but do not qualify as eligible, relevant or former relevant. They may receive support, advice and assistance.

2.5 Personal Adviser

A Personal Adviser is the person appointed to work in relation to Relevant child or Former Relevant child, usually at the first Looked After Review after the young person's 15th birthday (16 in Norfolk), and will occupy a key role in preparing the young person for independence and providing support after they cease to be looked after. He or she will hold a pivotal role in the assessment, planning and review of services as set out in the Pathway Plan.

Where accommodation is provided to a young person by the responsible authority under section 23B or section 24B of the Children Act 1989, the Personal Adviser must visit the Relevant child or Former Relevant child at that accommodation:

  • Within 7 days of the accommodation first being provided;
  • Subsequently, before the Pathway Plan is reviewed; and
  • At subsequent intervals of not more than two months.

They should be kept up-to-date with the young person’s progress and wellbeing.

2.6 Pathway Plan

The Pathway Plan sets out the ambitions and route to the future for the young person leaving the Looked After service and will state how their needs will be met in their path to independence. The plan will continue to be implemented and reviewed after they leave the looked after service at least until they are 21; and up to 24 if in education.

3. Key Responsibilities

Each local authority should have it's own procedures for young people Leaving Care, which should be consulted in relation to relevant young person. In the absence of such procedures, the following may be applied.

  1. A Personal Adviser should be appointed for every looked after young person from  their 16th birthday. The Personal Adviser's appointment will continue while the young person remains an Eligible, Relevant or Former Relevant Young Person;

  2. All eligible, relevant and former relevant young people must have received a multi-agency assessment of their needs and abilities to live independently. This will be informed by the ongoing assessment, planning and review which takes place throughout the period they are Looked After;
  3. They must also have a Pathway Plan, which will be drawn up having regard to the above assessment. The Pathway Plan must be owned and shaped by the young person who must have a copy of the Plan for safekeeping; 
  4. The Pathway Plan should complement the Care Plan and be regularly reviewed;
  5. Where the young person continues to be Looked After, there should additionally be a Placement Plan, which should describe what arrangements have been made within the home to support the Pathway Plan. The Placement Plan will continue to be the responsibility of the home where the young person is placed, and must outline the arrangements in place for supporting the Pathway Plan;
  6. The Pathway Plan will continue in place for eligible, relevant and former relevant young people.