The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 aims to ensure young people do not leave care until they are ready and prepared to do so. Once young people have left care, personal support is available until the age of 21 or 24 if in higher education.
The Act states that young people should:
- have a personal adviser.
- have an active Pathway Plan.
- receive appropriate financial support based on need.
Our 16 Plus service for young people leaving care provides support and advice to help young people live independently in the community after leaving the care of Caerphilly County Borough Council. Young people are therefore supported in their transition to adulthood by providing opportunities to develop practical and self-care skills to achieve independence.
For young people leaving care the 16 Plus Team will:
- Help young people keep in touch with people who have previously cared for them.
- Help to set, review and achieve goals by encouraging young people to be fully involved in assessments, plans and reviews.
- Provide relevant information that will support informed decision making when considering options and choices for the future.
- Work with careers, education and training providers to support gaining employment and/or extra skills.
- Maintain and develop existing support networks.
- Assist with finances and accommodation matters.
Who is eligible for support?
The 16 Plus team will support care leavers who are;
Eligible. Aged 16-17 and are currently in care and have been Looked After for a period of at least 13 weeks (or periods adding up to 13 weeks) since the 14th birthday. This will not normally include respite care.
Relevant. Aged 16-17 and have already left care but have previously met the criteria for an 'Eligible' young person.
Former relevant. Aged 18-21 and were previously a 'Relevant' or 'Eligible' young person.
Some young people may not fit into these categories but have been Looked After. In this instance, the 16 Plus Team could still offer advice and support.
How does the process work?
At around 15 ½ a referral is made to the 16 Plus Team for a 16 Plus social worker to attend a Looked After Review to introduce 16 Plus services. Soon after, a personal adviser begins to work with the young person to help with preparations for leaving care. The personal advisor will explain the support the 16 Plus Team provides and the services available and complete My Pathway Plan with the young person to gain their wishes and feelings for leaving care.
A 16 Plus Team social worker will then undertake a Preparation for Independence assessment, which will consider the following:
- Education, training and employment
- Family and social relationships
- Independent living skills and financial needs
- Health and development
Within 28 days of completing the assessment, the 16 Plus social worker will complete a Pathway Plan. This plan will help to navigate a way forward and look at what support may be needed and what to expect. The Pathway Plan is then reviewed on a 6 monthly basis unless there is a need otherwise.
Should 16 Plus leaving care services be declined by the young person, written confirmation of this decision will be needed as confirmation of the final decision.
The 16 Plus Leaving Care Team also encourages young people to engage in a range of support to assist in their transition to independence that includes;
- Monthly ‘Shout Out’ group
- Sexual Health groups
- Young Parents group
- Tenancy management classes
- Activity days
- National Care Leavers Week events
Government guidance and Legislation
Children (Leaving Care) (Wales) Regulations 2001
Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000
Reconnecting to Care
Reconnecting to Care is a change to the Children Act 1989 which enables young people between 21-25 years old who were formally looked after by the local authority to access further support from 16 Plus leaving care services. This support is designed to help young people fulfill their education, training or work objectives.
A young person reconnecting to Caerphilly has the right to an assessment to decide whether support would be appropriate for them. If the assessment decides support is appropriate, the young person will be helped to meet their education, training or work objectives. The young person will also have a Pathway Plan developed and have access to a personal adviser.
Caerphilly 16 Plus leaving care team has worked in partnership with Blaenau-Gwent County Borough Council's Leaving Care Team to develop the following policy:
Reconnecting To Care - Policy and Guidance On Working With Care Leavers
Caerphilly 16 Plus leaving care team would encourage former care leavers age 21-25 to contact the Team if they believe themselves to be eligible for support under the new legislation.
When I am Ready Scheme
The ‘When I am Ready’ scheme allows a young person who is already in an approved and registered foster care placement to continue living in that stable and nurturing family environment after they turn 18. Your foster carer will be known as a 'When I am Ready' Provider if you remain with them following your 18th Birthday.
For more information on the When I am Ready scheme, please contact the 16 Plus team or view our leaflet (currently unavailable)
For further information and advice about leaving care, please contact the 16 Plus / Leaving Care Team