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Leaving Care - What Support is Available?

The following is a guide to leaving care at Wandsworth and the support available.

Definitions

You are an eligible young person if:

  • you are 16 or 17
  • you have been looked after for at least 13 weeks after your 14th birthday
  • you are still in care.

You are a relevant young person if:

  • you are 16 or 17
  • you are no longer looked after but were previously an eligible young person when in care

You are a former relevant young person if:

  • you are 18 to 24
  • you have left care and were previously eligible or relevant, or both.

Needs Assessment

All young people – eligible, relevant or former relevant – must receive a multi-agency assessment of their needs as to the advice, assistance and support they will need when leaving care.

Your assigned social worker will be responsible for coordinating this assessment and it should be completed no more than 3 months after your 16th birthday or after you become Eligible/Relevant, if later.

You should be invited to any meetings held in connection with the assessment.

The needs assessment will inform the development of your pathway plan.

Pathway Plans

We will ensure all young people will have a Pathway Plan in place within 3 months of becoming Eligible and, wherever possible, a Pathway Plan should be in place by the young person’s 16th birthday. It will replace the young person’s care plan.

Pathway plans must be reviewed at least every 6 months, to check that the young person’s goals are still right and that the support to meet those goals is adequate and delivered.

How will I be involved?

Your Pathway Plan is about your needs and what we all need to do to ensure your successful transition to adult life.

We aim to fully involve you in the development of your Pathway Plan, which should set out your goals and identify how we, as a local authority, can help you to meet them.

Who else will be involved?

With your agreement, we will seek the views of our partner agencies when completing your Pathway Plan. This may include Housing, Education, Training and Employment providers, Benefits, Health Services, The Youth Offending Service and Youth Services to ensure we all work together to provide you with clear and consistent advice and support.

Pathway Plan

Personal Advisor

All eligible, relevant and former relevant care leavers will be allocated a Personal Advisor when they reach the age of 16 years old. Your personal advisor will assist you to develop skills that will assist you to live independently at time when you are ready to do so. A key role of the PA is to provide and coordinate the support that you will need to live in your own accommodation. Your Personal Adviser is your main point of contact in any area relating to your Pathway Plan and should support you to deliver the actions in your Plan.

Your PA will provide you with support and advice on a range of issues relating to leaving care including:

  • Education, employment and training
  • The development of independence skills
  • Finding and managing suitable accommodation
  • Managing your finances and claiming benefits

Your PA can also help you to access specialist support when you need it, including counselling and advice on issues such as drugs and alcohol, sexual health and benefits, such as job seekers allowance/Universal Credit and housing benefits.

Your PA will work with you to enable you put into place the things in your life that will enable you to live independently in your own accommodation.

Contacting Your PA

Your PA will provide you with telephone and email contact details or you can visit your PA at 201-203 Lavender Hill, Wandsworth, London, SW11 5TB.

If you cannot get through to your PA or if they are on leave, you can contact the Duty team.

The Wandsworth Pledge and Local Offer

Local Offer for Care Leavers

Local Authorities have a legal duty to support young people making the transition from care to adulthood and make sure care leavers know what services are available to them. The Local Offer is where you will find information to support care leavers aged 18-21, and 25 if in education or training, who are in the care of Wandsworth. It will tell you about all the help that is available to you as a care leaver. We consulted with a group of experienced care leavers who gave their views and opinions on the design and content of our offer.

Here is Wandsworth's Local Offer for Care Leavers

 

Wandsworth Pledge

This is Wandsworth's Pledge to all children in care.

These are Wandsworth's additional pledges to young people in care, and leaving care, who are aged 16 years and over.

Education, Employment and Training

We will provide care leavers with access to high quality information, advice and guidance to help you with education, training or employment. There are a number of education, employment and training opportunities available to you, which your PA can support you with.

  • Virtual School – can help with succeeding in your learning, extra tuition, equipment such as laptops. If you are aged 16 – 18, the Virtual School will help you with your Personal Education Plan (PEP). 
  • Lifelong Learning – provides support with apprenticeships, traineeships, employment programmes
  • Work Match – support with employment, traineeships, apprenticeships.
  • A Connexions adviser - in the Leaving Care Service is available to support young people with their education and careers.
  • Drop ins – at the Leaving Care Service (at Lavender Hill) take place on Thursday evenings where care leavers can speak to the Connexions adviser and access careers support.

We constantly work with partners to develop more education, employment and training opportunities for care leavers. Speak to your PA about some of the opportunities available now.

 

Financial Support

You may be eligible for the following financial support:

  • If you are 16 or 17, the equivalent of JSA (£57.96 per week) up to the age of 18.
  • A bursary through college 16-19, to be claimed through school when in Sixth Form or College up to age 19
  • Up to £250 per year on equipment for work, training or education – to be requested via personal adviser
  • Support to attend educational trips or activities – to be requested via personal adviser
  • £2,000 parental contribution for University students, provided in instalments throughout the degree course.
  • Up to £100 per year on clothing, e.g. for interviews, graduation – to be requested via personal adviser
  • When you turn 18, we will pay 75% towards a BSM standard course (10 lessons) of driving lessons.

 

Other sources of information

Further/Higher Education

Employment and Training

  • Find out more about Jobcentre Plus on the Government’s website.
  • The Prince’s Trust Team Programme offers 12 week Personal Development Programmes to support young people aged 16 – 25 into employment, training or education.
  • For up to date information about adult education courses in London visit Floodlight London.
  • The Duke of Edinburgh Award is a programme of activities that leads to a recognised award that proves you have a certain level of skill and have recognised personal qualities. It is for young people aged 14 – 24 years old.

Business start ups

  • Business Launchpad is for young people aged 16 – 30, which offers free personalised business guidance and support to young people wanting to set up their own business. 

Health

Services available at Wandsworth:

  • Your PA should support you to register with a GP if you are not already registered.
  • You will have access to the Looked After Child (LAC) Nurse up to age 18. At age 18, the LAC Nurse should provide you with a Health Passport containing your personal health history to take you forward into your adult life.
  • We have a counsellor in the Leaving Care Service who can support you with health needs, including emotional and mental health and substance misuse. Speak to your PA if you think this could help you.
  • The Leaving Care Service runs regular drop ins, where we can discuss health issues. Contact your PA for more information.
  • Sexual Health services are available at your local GP surgery, local pharmacy and local sexual health clinics.
  • Local mental health services in Wandsworth can be found on the Wandsworth website
  • Local drug treatment and support services in Wandsworth can be found on the Council’s website.
  • CAMHS Plus is a service for 17-25 year olds experiencing issues with mental health. Speak to your PA for more information.

 

Other sources of information

  • Getting it On – For information and services for 13-19 year olds on sexual health, mental health issues, drugs & alcohol and relationship problems.
  • Talk to Frank - For information drugs and alcohol.
  • Addaction provides support on drug, alcohol and mental health issues.
  • Brook can provide information and advice on sexual health or relationships, including sex, contraception, STIs, pregnancy and abuse.
  • FPA provide help, advice and information on sexual health.
  • Samaritans offers a safe place for you to talk any time you like about what is getting to you.

Staying Put

Once you have reached the age of 18 years you will not be a ‘looked after child’ but in some cases, especially where you are living in a foster placement, it may be possible for you to remain in your care placementafter your 18th birthday. If you want to remain in your current placement for a period after your 18th birthday you should discuss this with your social worker or PA.

More information about staying put placements can be found by following the link below:

http://wandsworthchildcare.proceduresonline.com/chapters/p_stay_put.html

Housing

As part of your preparation for adult life you will be supported by your personal advisor and or the leaving care housing officer  to complete a Social Housing Application, and or to secure private rented accommodation in line with your wishes and your Pathway Plan. We will offer you support to make a housing benefit claim, universal credit claim or to access Local Housing Allowance if in private rented accommodation.

It is important to note that Young People under 35 are normally only entitled to rent payments equivalent to the cost of a room in a shared house. Care Leavers between 18 and 21 can get the rate for 1-bedroom accommodation instead but once you turn 22 you can only get the shared accommodation amount. Bear this in mind if you are moving into a new home and think that you will continue to claim benefits after 22

There is a dedicated leaving care housing officer who liaises with  landlords and leaving care personal advisors from the moment a property becomes void to ensure that the housing management process and housing support process for a careleaver moving into the accommodation is a seamless and not to stressful experience.

The dedicated housing officer will endeavour to view properties both in the private and social rented sector and will peruse any legal paperwork associated with the rental of a property. At the point of signing the tenancy, the careleaver will be accompanied to the ‘sign up’ by a member of the leaving care team.

  • We will make sure you have appropriate furniture and a ‘home starter’ pack to help settle you in
  • We will make sure we plan carefully when you move to your new home to ensure it is the right time for you
  • We will make sure you have support from your Personal Advisor and the leaving care housing manager to help you feel secure and supported during your move

 

You may be eligible for financial support with accommodation:

  • Up to £2,100.00 setting up home grant
  • In private rentals, first deposit and first month rent advance by IYSS.
  • Starter Pack available containing essential items – to be requested with PA
  • Support with storage while at University or out of long term stable accommodation – speak to your PA about availability.
  • To take some of the financial pressures off you, if you are a Care Leaver up to the ages of 21, we will pay your Council Tax bill. You will need to bring your council tax bill to your PA.

 

Other sources of information

Preparation for Independence

  • Care leavers can access Wandsworth’s Preparation for Independence Programme, which is a seven week programme covering various topics, including Housing, Finance and Budgeting, Education, Employment and Training, Health and Emotional Wellbeing, and Cooking. Speak to your PA if you are interested in taking part.
  • We will help you budget your money if you go into semi-independence or have your own tenancy.
  • We will give you a grant when you move into your own home so you can furnish it.
  • If you have a disability or mental health issues we will work with adult social services to ensure a smooth transition.
  • Starter packs are available for care leavers moving into their own homes to help settle in.

Money and Benefits

  • In your 17th year, your Personal Advisor will be available to support you to make a claim for Universal Credit. You can apply for Universal Credit online.
  • The Leaving Care Service works closely with the Department of Work and Pensions and the Job Centre to support you with your benefits.
  • There is a named worker in the Job Centre who can support Wandsworth’s care leavers with their benefits.
  • Care leavers can apply up to six weeks in advance of their 18th birthday to ensure that you receive your benefits on time. Speak to your PA to arrange this.
  • Claiming benefits can be daunting and stressful, but the best way to make sure you receive your benefit payments is to comply with the Job Centre. If you are having any difficulties with your benefits speak to your PA.

 

What if I still need financial advice?

  • You can apply for other financial support provided by the Council via Wandsworth’s Discretionary Social Fund
  • YOUth Legal & Resource Centre aims to improve the quality of life of vulnerable young people in South West London by offering independent, free legal advice in social welfare law.
  • You can access further advice and assistance by requesting an appointment at your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
  • Turn2us is a national charity that helps people in financial hardship gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and support services.
  • The Care Leavers’ Foundation makes small grants to care leavers aged up to 29 and is primarily targeted at care leavers aged 21+ who have no recourse to any statutory support or alternative sources of funding. They can help with personal development needs, crisis payments, education, training or employment needs.
  • Become provides a range of help and advice on issues such as Employment, Money and Education. They can be contacted via email or a freephone telephone advice line.
  • National Youth Agency has information about how to manage your money.
  • Rees Care Leavers Foundation offers grants, crisis funds, and signposting to other services.

Identity

It is our responsibility to ensure you are supported to obtain:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Citizen Card
  • Passport
  • Provisional Driving Licence (if required for employment pathway and/or driving lessons)

You should be supported to obtain a form of photo ID by the time you are 18 by your social worker. Speak to your social worker if you have not received a form of ID by your 18th birthday. After you turn 18, speak to your PA.

 

Access to your social care records

Why do we keep records about you?

Your social worker needs to keep a record of your health, education, family members, foster placements etc. so that in future they can look back and see what has happened to you and have a record of your time in care. If there is a change of social worker your new social worker can look on your file and find out about you. The social worker also keeps notes of visits with you and of meetings about you. We also collect information about how we work with you so we can see where we need to improve. Access to your records is restricted to a limited number of professionals.

Can I see my file?

Yes, the law says you have a right to see personal information held about you unless we think it would be emotionally harmful to you. If we decide you cannot see your records then your social worker will explain why to you. When you are 18 you will be able to see all of the records kept on you, and your social worker will talk to you about what support you will need to read and understand the papers.

Wandsworth holds client records, in relation to adults, for seven years from the date of the last departmental service. In relation to children and families services records are held between seven years to 75 years depending on the type of services provided.

How can I get to see my file?

For more information on accessing your file telephone 020 8871 6633 or email ESSDAccessToRecords@wandsworth.gov.uk

 

Contribution to society

  • We will support you to join the electoral register where you live when you are 17 so that you can vote in any elections after your 18th birthday.
  • When you are 16, we will give you access to a personal adviser to support you in planning your future education, employment or training.

 

Peer suppport and CLiCK

CLICK (Children Living in Care Kouncil) is a group of young people aged 13-18 who are looked after by Wandsworth Council. They represent and speak up on behalf of children looked after to make a difference, positively influence decision making and shape the services they receive. There are many opportunities CLICK can make a difference for other young people by:

  • Running projects on key issues that affect them
  • Communicating with their ‘Corporate Parents’ and key decision makers such as the Corporate Parenting Panel, staff away days etc
  • Being involved in the recruitment and selection of staff that work with children looked after
  • Delivering tailored training to both young people and professionals
  • Hosting various events throughout the year for other Wandsworth Children Looked After.  

What CLICK members can gain from being a member:

  • Meeting other young people and make new friends
  • Leaning new skills
  • Receive an AQA accreditation and reference which can be helpful for your CV
  • Making a positive impact for young people in care
  • Access to information and support
  • And most importantly to have fun and create new positive memories!
  • We also have a younger group called Double CLICK that are aged 6-12 which meet in the school holidays.

Contact Name: Mei Lai Lu

Position: Participation Officer and Independent Visitors Manager

Telephone: 020 8871 8274  /  07775 417 462 (Mobile)

E-mail: MeiLai.Lu@richmondandwandsworth.gov.uk

Link for more information.

 

Youth Council

  • The Youth Council provides an opportunity for young people across Wandsworth to have their say on Wandsworth’s services and helps young people make decisions about their community.
  • More information can be requested from Antonia: adixey@wandsworth.gov.uk
  • You can apply to be part of the Youth Council here.

Living out of the Borough

If you live in a different local authority area – not Wandsworth – we aim to ensure that you are not at a disadvantage and that the service you receive is the same as you would if you remained in Wandsworth.

Wandsworth will work together with the local authority you decide to live in to ensure that you receive high quality services.

If you decide to live outside Wandsworth, you should be provided with advice on how to access care leavers' services if you need help or support. This advice should be provided to you in writing. You should speak to your PA if you need support with this.

You can also stay in touch with other care leavers through the Children Living in Care Kouncil (CLICK).

Link to more information.

Complaints / Advocacy

  • If you wish to make a complaint about the leaving care service, in the first instance speak to your PA or the Leaving Care Manager.
  • You can also make complaints about any aspect of Children’s Services through the Complaints Team, located at the Town Hall.
  • Coram Voice provide a freephone helpline that children and care leavers can call for advocacy support, information and advice when they have problems with services.

Recreation and Leisure

  • The Leaving Care service offer social events such as BBQs, where care leavers can get to know each other and find out more about the support they can receive through the Leaving Care Service.
  • The Leaving Care Service can reimburse care leavers up to £20 a month towards membership to a gym or leisure centre. Speak to your PA to find out more.
  • More information on leisure and recreation can be found on the THRIVE Wandsworth website.
  • When you turn 18, we will pay 75% towards a BSM standard course (10 lessons) of driving lessons.
  • The Virtual School hold award ceremonies for young people in care and leaving care to celebrate their educational achievements.
  • CLiCK arrange events, including trips and residentials, throughout the year for children looked after and care leavers. Speak to Mei Lai Lu in CLiCK to find out about the events available.
  • CLiCK host an annual Christmas event for children looked after and care leavers.