Care leavers

A downloadable booklet version of this information is available via the "Documents" section at the bottom of this page.

Leaving care offer : Information about about the support and services which will be available to you as a care leaver aged 16+ who is the responsibility of Lancashire County Council.

Care leavers : A care leaver is a young person who has previously been in care. Your right to support as a care leaver will depend on when and how long you were in care. The Leaving Care Act has defined three new categories of Care Leavers - eligible, relevant and former relevant. See details below, your worker will help you to understand which category is relevant to you.

Eligible : A young person aged 16 and 17 who have been looked after for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14 and who are still looked after.

Relevant : A young person 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 also includes young people who were detained (e.g. in a youth offending institution or hospital) when they turned 16 but immediately before that were looked after.

Former relevant : A Young person over 18 who was previously ‘eligible’ or ‘relevant’. Local authorities support this group at least until age 21 or longer if in education or training.

Qualifying : Any young person under 21 (or 24 if in education or training) who ceases to be looked after or accommodated in a variety of other settings, or privately fostered, after the age of 16.

Statutory responsibilities

The responsibilities that Local Authorities have towards care leavers are set out in the Statutory Guidance and Regulations called Planning Transitions to Adulthood for Care Leavers.

These responsibilities include:

  • Keeping in touch with you
  • Keeping your Pathway Plan under regular review
  • Providing you with a Personal Advisor to offer advice and support
  • Providing financial assistance to help with employment, training or education expenses where needed.
  • Pay a higher education bursary if you are at university

When you turn 21 support will change depending on your circumstances.

Due to new laws from 2017 care leavers under the age of 25, who tell their Local Authority that they have returned, or want to return, to education or training are entitled to an assessment of your educational needs.

If at age 21 you are already in education or training then leaving care support continues until this ends but if at age 21 you are not in education support from leaving care will stop.

If you are entitled to on-going support you will be allocated a Personal Adviser, and a new pathway plan with focus on the support you will need to be able to meet your agreed education or training goals.

Our approach

At age 16 years an assessment of need will be completed and a pathway plan will be developed. You will also have an allocated worker to support you.

Your well-being, achievements, aspirations and hopes are important to us. We want to support you so you can establish yourself as an independent and successful member of the local community, we will work hard to ensure you have access to the opportunities, services and support you need to achieve your goals.

Services and support

There are a wide range of services and support available for care leavers in Blackburn and Darwen. Some of these services are provided directly by the council, and some are provided in partnership with other agencies. Services are available for all care leavers, but you might not need to access all of the services, this will depend on your own personal circumstances.

The types of services offered to care leavers include an allocated personal advisor, accommodation, education, employment and training, higher education, financial support and support with your health and well-being.

Social work support

  • Allocated worker/Personal Advisor – care leavers have an allocated worker to provide and co- ordinate the support that you need.
  • Keeping in Touch – your allocated worker will see you at least once every 2 months, and will keep in touch with you in between visits. The exact level of contact will be agreed between you and your allocated worker.
  • Mobile Phone/text contact – all our staff have mobile phones so you can keep in touch via text.
  • Pathway plan and reviews – your pathway plan will be reviewed regularly, at least every 6 months, and more often if needed or if you request it. Your pathway plan should be detailed, clear and relevant to your circumstances at the time.

Accomodation 18+

  • Staying Put— young people in foster care are encouraged to “stay put” with their carers when they turn 18. This arrangement allows you to remain with your foster carer till the age of 21. Your allocated worked can provide you with the full details.
  • Priority access to supported accommodation—if you do chose to move on from your placement, then care leavers have priority access to some supported accommodation projects in the County.
  • Housing Allocations – following an assessment by the council, care leavers are given priority access to accommodation. When it is assessed that you are ready to live independently you will be supported to bid for suitable properties.
  • If you do not live in Blackburn or Darwen we will support you to find suitable accommodation in the area where you do live.

Your allocated worker will work with you to ensure that you have all the information that you need about the different education, employment and training opportunities that are available.

We are able to provide numerous opportunities for care leavers that include work placements, apprenticeships and access to further education colleges.

Care leavers may have priority access to the 16-19 year bursary paid to young people in education or training.

Also care leavers aged 21 or over are encouraged to come back to request support to access education or training opportunities. Blackburn with Darwen has a policy in place that which information on how young people can get in touch, how we will work with you to develop a new education and training focussed pathway plan, and information about any financial support you may receive.

Higher Education

We work closely with our local Universities to provide opportunities for care leavers to experience University life.

Blackburn with Darwen provides a financial package of support for care leavers going on to University.

For undergraduates we provide accommodation costs during vacations, a Higher Education bursary of £2000 on successful completion of the degree course and assistance to access other financial and welfare support through the University.

Also your personal advisor will support you throughout your course.

Health and wellbeing

The specialist nurse at the leaving care team supports care leavers to access appropriate health services dependant on individual need. The health and well-being of care leavers is paramount and the specialist nurse will work closely with the care leaver, personal advisor and other agencies to ensure that health is promoted, supported and encouraged. Care leavers have the opportunity to access support from the specialist nurse at the weekly drop in, via telephone, face to face visits or joint visits if preferred.

Celebrating your achievements

We will celebrate your achievements with you whatever these may be – personal, academic, sporting, arts or vocational. We hold an awards evening every year where we celebrate the successes and achievements of all our care leavers.

Financial Support

Care leavers will receive financial support from Blackburn with Darwen Council and other agencies including department of work and pensions and colleges. Please find guide to financial support you may receive from Blackburn with Darwen. Your Personal Advisor will be able to explain this in more detail.

How to complain

We hope that you as a care leaver are satisfied with the services and support that you receive, but if you have any concerns then you should raise these with your worker or their manager and we hope to resolve these quickly.

The Children’s Rights Service is available to support you as a care leaver up to the age of 18.

For more information about services and support for care leavers in Blackburn and Darwen please speak to your allocated worker.

Financial Entitlements/Support

The type of financial help you will receive from Blackburn with Darwen’s Children and Young Peoples Directorate will depend on whether you are an eligible, relevant, former relevant or a qualifying young person. This quick guide below will help you understand what you may receive. Your personal adviser will assist you in understanding the details and what other financial support maybe available depending on your circumstances

Financial support for care leavers
Financial support Eligible Relevant Former relevant Qualifying
Income maintenance (incorporates personal allowance and living allowance) Yes Yes No No
Financial support - rent/accomodation costs Eligible Relevant Former relevant Qualifying
Supported accommodation Yes Yes No No
Semi-independent living Yes Yes No No
Independent living rent Yes Yes No (in certain circumstances can be paid) No
Vacation Accommodation if in higher education No No Yes Yes
Financial Support: Standard Grants if living independent) Eligible Relevant Former relevant Qualifying
Christmas/Festival £10 Yes Yes No No
Birthday £50 Yes (17/18/
19/20/21) Birthday
Yes 21st birthday only No

Discretionary payments

You may also be able to receive additional funding for some of the following. This will be based on an assessment of need and your personal advisor will discuss any additional payments with you when you are completing your pathway plan.

  • Educational materials/equipment
  • Staying in touch with your family or significant others
  • Hobbies or leisure
  • Travel to education/training/employment
  • Emergency payments for food and heating in exceptional circumstances
  • Financial assistance whilst waiting for benefits to be processed providing requests/ requirements of the DWP have been followed - This is repayable.
  • Basic Allowance enhancement may be paid in certain circumstance i.e. completing voluntary work, training
  • Cold weather fuel payments in extreme conditions

Further advice