Leaving Care – Getting ready for adult life

What is the Get Ready for Adult Life service?

We will support and work with you if you are in care on, or after, your 16th birthday. We will be in touch with you until you are at least 21. We might be able to support you longer than this if you are in education.

We want to see you get the smoothest and the best start to adult life that you can. We will know what your past experiences have been but we will focus on planning your future with you.

Around your, 16th birthday, or 3 months after coming into Care, your current worker will introduce you to your ‘Get Ready for Adult Life’ worker and together you can work on your pathway plan. There is a ‘Get Ready for Adult Life’ team in each of the 5 districts in Warwickshire.

As well as a worker from Children’s Services, everyone who has a leaving care service is entitled to a young person’s advisor (these are usually from Barnardo’s). They will be there for you to work on parts of your pathway plan and/or if you feel you need an independent person to discuss your plan with you.

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Aims and Objectives

We aim to make young people feel more comfortable about being in, and leaving, care.

We aim to bring about positive change in the experiences of looked after young people and care leavers.

We will do this by:

  • Meeting as many young people as possible who are in care and turning 16;
  • Providing opportunities for young people to have fun;
  • Being flexible and mobile in our networking with other young people;
  • Being an advice group for all those interested in our experiences;
  • Exchanging information with the Children In Care Council;
  • Keeping in touch with national groups, eg NCAS, ANV, to exchange information.

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What is a Get Ready for Adult Life worker?

Your ‘Getting ready for adult life’ worker should be in contact with you at least every 6 weeks if you are in care (3 monthly if you are in permanency placement) and then every 2 months if you have left care. Your contact with them will always be recorded in your case file. Don’t forget you can always ask to see your file to check out your history and make sure that factual information is correct.

Teams are made up of social workers, leaving care coordinators and social care workers. While your dedicated worker will see you through your pathway plan, you may well get support from a range of people in the team depending on what you are doing at any time. Your worker will:

  • Keep an eye on, and celebrate, your achievements;
  • Talk through any difficulties or worries you may have;
  • Chat with you when you need someone to talk to;
  • Try to find you if you have been out of touch for a while; and
  • Plan with you what you would like to do with your future, how you are going to do it and will make sure you have what you need to do it.

Your worker is there to listen, support, advise and assist. Along the way, you may be introduced to an accommodation worker, a support worker, youth workers, benefit agency workers, college staff and many more!

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What is a pathway plan?

Experience shows us that if you have a plan you are more likely to achieve what you want to, than if you don’t have a plan. All young people in care at 16 have to have a plan. While it can seem like another in a long list of plans, remember you are in control of your plan.

Warwickshire pathway plans have been designed with young people who have pathway plans already, they cover:

  • Your plans for your career;
  • How you are going to make sure you keep yourself healthy and enjoy yourself;
  • Who is around to support you;
  • What you need to learn to be able to look after yourself well;
  • Where you might want to live in the future;
  • What money you have coming in and what money you have going out, and
  • If you want to be involved in improving the services that young people receive.

You can see what your Pathway Plan document, there is also a tool designed by care leavers, to help you think about how prepared you feel for adult life. Do have a go and talk to your worker about the areas where you would benefit from further information or support. we are here to help you prepare fully for your future independence, and its never too young to start thinking about it more.

Until you are 18 the plan will be looked at least every 6 months at your review with your Independent Reviewing Officer. This is to make sure you are happy with it and it is your plan that you have made. After 18 you will have opportunities to go through your plan with the I.R.O. or Practice Leader in your district to see if you are making progress with your plan. Plans can change for all sorts of reasons, some good and some not so good! There isn’t much that a leaving care worker hasn’t seen before and that cant be dealt with to get you on your way again.

Reviews should be written up and sent out to you within 2 weeks of the review

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Where you might want to live in the future?

When deciding where to live, there are 3 things to consider:

  • Where you would like to live;
  • What support you are likely to need; and
  • What is available.

The more time you have to plan, the more likely you are to get what is right for you.

Evidence shows that the longer you stay in foster care the more successful you are likely to be. When the time comes for you to move out you and/or your foster carers should try to give 28 days notice wherever possible. Moving out of foster or residential care on your own can be scary, it is hard to manage your money, to keep everything clean, and to work our which of your mates can be trusted in your home. Even if you are surrounded by other people, living on your own can be lonely.

Depending on your situation there are a number of options including:

  • Higher support accommodation: you rent a room and share bathroom and kitchen with others. You commit to getting support at least once a week from a key worker , although the staff team are on site and available throughout the day and most of the night. An example of this would be Newbold Lodge in Leamington.
  • Medium support accommodation: you might share a flat with others, have key work support once a week and staff are available on site 9-5 pm eg: the Deepmore Road project in Rugby
  • Accommodation lower support: you might live in your own flat and are visited at least once a week by your key worker. an example would be the Doorway service in Nuneaton
  • Independent tenancy: If you can demonstrate a degree of independence skills and you are supported by your leaving care team you may be able to apply for your own housing fo example a flat owned by your local council.
  • Staying Put: If you have been in the same foster placement since the age of 15 and your foster family agree you can stay in the family home when you are over the age of 18, your worker can put in a referral to the staying put scheme.
  • Supported Lodgings: We are also able to access other people that you think would provide a safe and supportive place to develop your independence skills, for example: a relative, a previous support person, a previous carer, your partner’s parents etc. If you talk to your worker we can access whether we feel that this option is safe and appropriate.

If you need furniture when you move, the leaving care teams will make sure you have all the essential items.

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Who is around to support you?

As well as your leaving care worker, if you live in or close to Warwickshire, you will be allocated a Personal Adviser (PA) from Barnardo’s. You will always have these 2 people who will help you with your pathway plan and your progress towards independence. If you do not live near Warwickshire an alternative PA could be indentified for you.

Your pathway plan will identify whether you are in touch with all the people who are important to you, help you keep connected with your family, friends, and carers where possible

Along the way you may be supported by the Virtual School, youth workers, college staff, careers advice workers, employability workers, housing support workers, Childrens Rights, the Children in Care Council (CICC) / Care Leavers FORUM, and many others. If you have a crisis when the offices are shut, then don’t forget that the Emergency Duty Service can support you, just let them know you are in or from care, and they will try their hardest to support you through the crisis.

All these different people can be confusing and you need to be sure about what information you have agreed can be shared about your circumstances, who needs to know what and why. A good pathway plan should help to stop you repeating your life story to lots of different people.

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Education, training, and career plans

We will always encourage you to be involved in education or training. All the information shows the more qualifications you have, the better job you are likely to get and the more money you are more likely to earn

We work with lots of different people to ensure you get the support you need. This may include schools, colleges, training providers, Careers Advisors, and the Virtual School. We will help with education related costs and encourage you to go as far as you can. For those that get as far as university we will support you to apply for student finance, and provide you with a Higher Education Bursary of, at least, £2000.

We encourage you to try work experience or volunteering in a number of different places to test out possible jobs and to improve your CV

There are always opportunities to go back to education if it hasn’t worked out the first time!!

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Money – when you are 16/17

You need to think carefully if you are considering leaving foster or residential care as you will no longer get money for a holiday, specific money for clothes or activities. The contribution to your long term savings will stop.

If you are a single parent, if you have a disability, or if you are supported by the asylum seeking team, please speak to your social worker about what finances you are entitled to. For all others supported by the Get Ready for Adult Life teams:

  • You will not be entitled to claim benefits;
  • You will get reasonable accommodation costs;
  • You will get a living allowance from the leaving care teams. If you haven’t got one already, you will need to open a bank account as the allowance is usually paid straight in to your bank. The amount you will get is always a little higher than job seekers allowance.

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Money: when you are 18

If you are not working at 18 you will need to make a claim for benefits: job seekers allowance if you are looking for work, income support if you are continuing in education.

If you are not working, or on a low wage and you are paying rent you may also need to make a claim for housing and council tax benefit.

You will get a birthday gift and a festival gift, (usually at Christmas time) every year.

You can also get an incentive payment to reward or encourage you for certain activities in your pathway plan.

There is also some money that may be available to help with costs related to education, employment, moving in,contact expenses, identity documents,etc.

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Looking after yourself

Long before you think about moving out of foster or residential care you need to be sure that you have the skills to be able to look after yourself:

  • Can you cook a range of meals?
  • Can you make money last and do you know how much things like food and electric bills are likely to cost?
  • Can you do your own laundry?
  • Are you confident about making your own appointments, eg for the doctors or dentists?
  • Are you confident using public transport?
  • Can you manage your space? Could you stop your friends behaving badly, making a mess, or turning up whenever they wanted to , rather than when you wanted them to?

This will be discussed through your pathway plan and you can agree who is best to help you out with this.

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Being healthy and happy

Whilst you are in care, and until you are 18, you have the right to an annual appointment with a nurse who is particularly experienced in supporting Looked After Children and Care Leavers. This is a chance for you to talk about absolutely any health or emotional concern; most people talk about things about their current lifestyle, Eg your diet, moods, smoking, anxieties, relationships, sexual health etc. We know that being in care ,and moving on in to independence can be stressful. It is important that you look after your health and that you have positive people around you.

We will also encourage you to register with a dentist or and a G.P. so you can see one easily if you need to. We will help you with completing the form to reduce the costs of NHS treatments.

Remember children’s rights are there for you even if you are no longer in care.

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Leaving Care – Getting ready for adult life was last updated on September 24, 2014.