Leaving foster or local authority care

Your local council must support you until you’re 21. When you leave care there’ll be a meeting to help you work out what you’re going to do next.

Age What happens
16 You’ll be given a plan to help you make the transition from care to independent life
18 You’re no longer in care when you turn 18 but your council must still provide you with some support, eg a personal adviser or plan
21 You’ll get help and advice from the council until you’re 21 (or longer if you’re still in education or training)

What the council must do to help you

The council must:

  • give you a personal adviser who stays in touch with you once you’ve left care
  • carry out an assessment to find out what advice and support you need - they must also prepare a plan to make this happen (called a ‘pathway plan’)
  • make sure you’ve got somewhere to live and enough money (until you turn 18)

Discussing your future

If you’re leaving care you’ll have a ‘statutory review meeting’ to discuss your future, including what support you’ll need.

Things to consider before your meeting

These things will be discussed at your statutory review meeting:

  • where you’re going to live (you can move somewhere where personal support and advice is always available if you want to)
  • if you’re going to work, get training or continue in education
  • how much support you think you’ll need from your social worker or personal adviser

Who should be at your statutory review meeting

The following people should be at the meeting:

  • you
  • an advocate, if you ask for one (an adult you choose who can help you explain things)
  • your social worker
  • your carers
  • any other people responsible for supporting you (like a mentor or a member of staff from your school or college)
  • an Independent Reviewing Officer (a neutral person appointed to make sure everything’s done properly)

Complaining about your statutory review meeting

You can make a formal complaint if you’re not happy with how your meeting went. Your social worker or personal adviser from the leaving care service and the Independent Reviewing Officer must tell you how to do this.

Supporting you in education

You should get a bursary of £1,200 a year if you stay in full-time education. Contact your education provider (eg school or college) to find out how to claim the 16-19 bursary.

You may be eligible for a higher education bursary of £2,000 from your local council if you’re going on to higher education (eg university).

You can get support from a personal adviser until you’re 25 if you’re in education or training.

When you reach 16

Your local council must write a ‘pathway plan’ when you reach 16 which helps you prepare for leaving care and says what support you should get.

It must include plans for your:

  • health
  • education, training and development
  • contact with family
  • financial management

Your personal adviser must take part in any pathway plan reviews until you’re 21, or older if you’re still in education. Your plan must be reviewed:

  • every 6 months at least
  • if you ask for one
  • if your personal adviser or the council asks for one

Setting up home allowances

You can get a setting up home allowance (also known as a leaving care grant) to help you buy essential things when moving into your own home. Contact your local council to find out how much is available.


You might be able to claim some benefits, like: