The information on this page is aimed at any young parent who:-
- Is a care leaver who has (or should have) a pathway plan & personal adviser
- And is also the parent of a child involved with children’s services.
If you’re not sure whether the information on this page applies to you, take a look below for a quick explanation about what we mean by ‘care leaver’, ‘pathway plan’ and ‘personal adviser’.
What is meant by 'care leaver'?Care leavers are young people who have been in the care system and are entitled to some ongoing help and support from children’s services after they have left care. There are different categories of care leaver and the support that each gets varies.
Care leavers are young people who have been 'looked after' in the care system for 13 weeks or more since they were 14 years old and have reached the age of at least 16. They are entitled to some ongoing help and support from children's services after they have left care (the leaving care age in England and Wales is 18 years but some young people leave care at 16 or 17).
There are different catergories of care leaver and the support that each gets varies, but ends either by the time the care leaver reaches the age of 21 or 25 (depending on the circumstances).
On this website we use the term ‘care leaver’ to refer to any young person that:
- Children’s services must provide some support to because they were looked after in the care system for 13 weeks or more since they were 14 years old and
- Is at least 16 years old and
- Is entitled to have a pathway plan and a personal adviser.
If you are not sure whether you are, or are about to be, a care leaver entitled to a pathway plan and a personal adviser, take a look at our care leaver entry on the A-Z page which explains more about the different categories of care leavers and the help they can get.
What is a pathway plan?A pathway plan is prepared by children’s services for care leavers. It should consider the care leavers’ health and development, education and training, employment, contact with family and money management.
Pathway plans continue until a care leaver reaches age 21, or 25 if the care leaver is in education or training. After a young person has left care, the local authority has a duty to keep the plan under review.
If you are a young parent or parent-to-be, and you have a pathway plan (or you are entitled to have one) then this plan should recognise and reflect your role as a parent by taking account of:
- The help and support you need as a young person moving to adulthood and independence
- The help and support you need as a young parent wanting to keep your child safely in your care.
What is a personal adviser?A personal adviser is someone who provides advice, support and practical help to certain young people aged 16 or above who have left, or are getting ready to, leave care. A personal adviser should:
- Keep your pathway plan under review
- Take reasonable steps to stay in regular contact
- Help you get into education, training and employment
- Give you advice about housing, finances and health
- Help make sure you are able to live independently.
More detailed information about when a care leaver is entitled to a personal adviser can be found in the care leaver entry on the A-Z page.
It will be very helpful if your child’s social worker looks carefully at how any plans they make to help or protect your child link with your own pathway plan. Here are some examples of how this should be done:
- Information and support: You and your child’s social worker should discuss all the people who have been involved in your life who may be able to provide important and helpful information or who could be part of a plan to support you to safely care for your child. This could include:
- a former foster carer with whom you have a good relationship
- your personal adviser
- your previous social worker
- an extended family member
- a brother or sister.
As soon as plans start to be made for your child, these people should have the opportunity to be included in discussions about what support they can provide.
- Managing money: Your personal adviser should make sure that your pathway plan is updated to include details of how you will manage new costs relating to your child. This could include:
- the costs of travelling to parenting classes or playgroups
- the costs of travelling to meetings with social workers about your child
- giving you advice about any benefits you might be entitled to if you have a child in your care (for example, child benefit or child tax credits).
- Accommodation: Your social worker and personal adviser should make sure that the accommodation that children’s services provides to you or has helped you to secure, is suitable for your child to live in.
If it isn’t, then it’s important that you and your personal adviser have information from your child’s social worker about what suitable accommodation would be. Both should cooperate to help you find suitable accommodation (within the right timescale) for you and your child.
- Education, employment, training: You should have support from your personal adviser about how the plans in place for your education, employment and training (such as going to college, working, doing an apprenticeship) might be affected by your becoming a parent – and what help you need to make any changes.
This information should be shared with your child’s social worker. For example, finding out whether your college has a crèche and how much this might cost.
Checklist for young parents who are also care leavers
It is important to think about whether you are getting all of the help and support that you need to keep your child safely with you.
A checklist can be a good way of thinking through all of the different issues. You can download this checklist to help you focus, and think through, some of the important issues. You can also use the checklist to help you get ready to talk through things with your child's social worker and your personal adviser.
Remember, you can also go to the Working Together pages for:-