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3.11.3 Supporting Care Leavers Through to 25


This chapter focuses on the support a care leaver will be able to seek if, when they are 21 yrs, they make a decision to progress into some form of education or training.


Support for Care Leavers – Succeeding into Adulthood Procedure


The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers (January 2015)

NCAS Support for Care Leavers Aged 21 – 25 years with Education and Training

This chapter was added to the manual in March 2015.


  1. Introduction
  2. Who is a Care Leaver?
  3. What is Meant by 'Education or Training'
  4. Who is Entitled to Support?
  5. Policy and Procedure

1. Introduction

Care leavers receive support from their local authority until they are 21 years. This support may continue beyond their 21st birthday if they are in continuing and agreed education and this forms part of their Pathway Plan. If a care leaver is not in education or training at 21 years then leaving care support will finish at this time.

From April 2011 there has been a change in the law which means that care leavers who tell their local authority that they have returned or wish to return to education or training will be entitled to an assessment of their needs up to their 25th birthday. This means that care leavers may be able to get support from the local authority for education and training. The local authority should carry out a needs assessment within 3 months of the care leaver’s request. The support that can be provided is:

  • Personal Adviser;
  • Pathway Plan;
  • Assistance (to the extent that their education needs require it);
  • Financial Assistance (this depends on the course and the income the care leaver already has).

2. Who is a Care Leaver?

A care leaver is over 18 years and was in care for 13 weeks after the age of 14yrs, and for at least 1 day after they were 16. This means they are 'Former Relevant' and are entitled to support under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000.

The responsibilities that local authorities have towards care leavers is set out in The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers (January 2015).

There is also an NCAS guide for care leavers called 'Support for care leavers aged 21 to 25 with education and training'  See: NCAS Support for Care Leavers Aged 21 – 25 years with Education and Training.

3. What is Meant by 'Education or Training'

The law says that the definition of 'education or training' must be interpreted broadly and could include a range of opportunities, for example:

  • Basic skills courses, so that care leavers gain the skills to help them get a job;
  • Vocational training and apprenticeships;
  • Further education courses;
  • Higher education courses;
  • Post graduate qualifications;

4. Who is Entitled to Support?

  • Care Leavers aged under 25;
  • Care leavers who are no longer receiving support from the Aftercare Service. (Their case has been closed at 21 years.);
  • Care leavers wanting to start education or training or have already returned to education or training.

5. Policy and Procedure

Care leavers at age 16 years will have a completed their needs assessment and Pathway Plan and should be made aware of this policy within the Pathway Plan and throughout subsequent reviews.

As a care leaver approaches their final Pathway Plan review at 21 years details of how they can approach the local authority post 21 years should be included in that review.

Care Leavers up to the age of 25 years and who wish to undertake education or training after the age of 21 yesrs (where their case has been closed to the authority) should e-mail or write to their last allocated Practice Group and the Advanced  Practitioner to request a new needs assessment.

Within 3 months of this request the Advanced Practitioner will invite the care leaver to a meeting with the Personal Adviser who both complete a new needs assessment.

The care leaver will be asked to bring all their education/training documents with them, for example course confirmation/registration, fee and loan agreements etc. if they have already identified a course.

The law says that care leavers are entitled to an assessment of their support needs; this is not the same as automatically being entitled to support. The assessment will look at what assistance (if any) the local authority can provide.

The assessment should take place within 3 months of when the care leaver first asks the local authority for support. It should assist care leavers in seeing what they want to achieve and how they could do this. Therefore:

  • The assessment should be based on individual needs and identify what support is needed;
  • The assessment will look at whether the care leaver is choosing the right course for them and what they have done so far in preparation;
  • The assessment should look at the information recorded in the previous Pathway Plans up to age 21 years or when the care leaver left the service;
  • Discussion during the assessment should also centre on the skills care leavers have and skills they need as well as their previous education, employment and training experiences;
  • The assessment will look at how any identified education or training will help care leavers find employment in the future;
  • Care leavers financial situation will be assessed and the assessment will look at any other funding they can access (Charities and Further and Higher Education Bursaries) to help with the costs of education or training.

Care leavers don’t have to have decided what education or training they would like to do; the law says they can get in touch with their local authority for support if they are ‘wanting to pursue education or training’, thinking about it but not yet decided. In this case the assessment could help care leavers work out what they want to do.

Housing need should be included particularly if a care leaver has their Southwark tenancy and wants to attend university outside of London. Consideration has to be given to how this may impact upon their tenancy and their finances if they wish to commute or move out of London.

Once the assessment has been completed and written up by the Advanced Practitioner and Personal Adviser a new Pathway Plan will be completed. This will outline whether the local authority will provide support and what that support will be. If the local authority does not agree to continued support the reasons need to be clearly outlined in the needs assessment.

The care leaver should be informed of the decision within 2 weeks of the meeting. They should receive a copy of the Needs Assessment and Pathway Plan.

If support is agreed then the care leaver will be allocated a Personal Adviser who will visit them at their home every 2 months and offer direct work sessions, their Pathway Plan will be reviewed 6 monthly and they will be eligible to either the Further or Higher Education package. If a care leaver has already received the £2,000 Higher Education Bursary having previously completed a degree course they will not be entitled to this again.

They will also be able to access the assistance of the Employment Adviser. The role of the Employment Adviser would be to assist care leavers either throughout the course if they are seeking part time work or toward the end of the course as they seek full time employment or further training. It may be appropriate to include the Employment Adviser in the needs assessment particularly where a care leaver has not yet identified a course or training programme.

Care leavers can request the annual service but this is subject to assessment and agreement by the Advanced Practitioner. It is important that Care leavers are supported throughout the duration of their course and this is best met by having regular contact and home visits with their Personal Adviser.

This agreement ceases once the course has been completed and therefore it may go beyond the care leavers 25th birthday.

In some cases support may be declined and this may be for a number of reasons such as the identified course not being appropriate, previous concern regarding lack of engagement or because the care leaver refuses permission for the local authority to contact the education or training provider.

Where support is declined, the reasons for this must be clearly recorded in the needs assessment and the care leaver must be informed in writing with the reasons, as well as providing them with details of the complaints procedure and advocacy services that they can contact to help them with this process. For example, Barnardos who can be contacted on free phone number 0808 800 0017 or on