What is a ‘Care Leaver’?
A care leaver is a young person who has been looked after by Rhondda Cynon Taf for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14, and who was in care on their 16th birthday.
What is the 16+ service?
Finding your way in life can be difficult, particularly if you are a young person moving into independence. It can be an exciting yet scary time, so Rhondda Cynon Taf Council have a service called ‘16+’ which will support you to make sure this change is as smooth as possible.
The 16+ service works with young people aged 16 – 21 (or in some cases, up to the age of 25) who have been looked after by Rhondda Cynon Taf.
It is their job to support you and to help you think about what you can do to get ready to live on your own once you are no longer looked after by Rhondda Cynon Taf.
What support can they offer?
The 16+ service can offer support on a range of things including housing, money, training, relationships, health and well-being. They can help you:
- Prepare for independent living
- Find work or start a training course
- Make the change from care into your own home (when you are ready)
- Plan for the unexpected
- Achieve your goals and ambitions
- Organise your finances
What is a Personal Advisor?
A Personal Advisor helps young people to plan for their future and supports them in achieving their goals. Your Personal Advisor will work closely with you once you turn 16, making sure your Pathway Plan is realistic and continues to meet your needs. The Personal Advisor should ensure that the pathway plan is reviewed regularly, ensure that you are receiving the support you need and stay in touch with you on your journey into adulthood.
What is a Pathway Plan?
When you are referred to the 16+ Service, an assessment of your needs will be carried out which includes a visit and discussion with you about your ideas for your future, what you want to happen, your strengths, needs , wishes and feelings. The needs assessment will outline what you need and how you will be supported to meet your needs. This may include information, advice or assistance, which may be, practical, financial and emotional . The information we collect will help to form a pathway plan. The needs assessment will include information on;
- Your needs
- Your strengths
- Your outcomes or goals
You and your Social Worker together gather the information on your needs assessment which will then be used to form you Pathway Plan. You will receive a copy of this plan and you will have this plan until you are 21 (or 25 if you are in further education or training).
Your Pathway Plan it is a document setting out the different steps to achieve your ambitions and support needed to help you become independent. Your wishes and goals for the future, for example where you want to live and whether you will continue in education or find a job should be at the heart of your pathway plan. The plan also includes information on;
- The different types of suitable accommodation
- What financial support you can get (money)
- What personal support you will be offered
- Programmes to develop skills ready for independent living
- Your identity
- Your employment, education or training opportunities
- Contact with your family
- Your health needs
- A Backup plan (‘Plan B’) in case things don’t go as planned
You and your Social Worker will update your Pathway Plan and you will get a copy of this. You will have this plan until you are 21 (or 25 if you are in further education or training).
Where will I live?
When you are 16, chances are you will be starting to think about where you might want to live in the future. This is where the 16+ service comes in; they will encourage you to take control of your life by planning ahead and setting goals for your independence.
If you are thinking about moving out and living independently, the 16+ service have kitted out a training flat for you to spend up to 4 weeks living on your own to see if this is something you would want in the future. You would be given a weekly allowance to buy your own food and to pay for the gas and electric. You would be expected to cook for yourself, keep the flat clean, do the washing and budget for your travel, phone etc.
If this is something you would like to do, you can speak to your Aftercare worker or contact the Aftercare Team on 01443 486731.
Some young people move between the ages of 16 to 18 to supported lodgings where they have more responsibilities and it prepares them for independent living. This is different from foster care as the room is rented, and you would have your own money and you learn skills to help you cope better with independent living. However, all your meals and food would be provided by the person you live with. Most young people stay for between 6-12 months before moving on but it all depends on your circumstances. There are other types of accommodations available if the ones above do not suit you. These include;
- Flat – this where you live independently
- Flat with support – this is where you live on your own but receive support to make sure you’re OK
- Supported housing – This option means you live in a shared house but there will be different levels of support available depending on your needs.
‘When I am Ready’ Scheme
‘When I am Ready’ is a scheme that has been developed by the Welsh Government. Its aim is to offer more support to young people leaving care so they can confidently move into adulthood and independence.
What happens if I currently live with my foster carers?
Under the ‘When I am Ready’ scheme, you will have the option to stay with your foster family when you turn 18 if:
- you want to and/or you are not ready to live on your own;
- your foster family agrees to you staying;
- it's the best option.
What happens if I want to stay in care after my 18th birthday but I can’t stay where I am now?
If you are living in residential care or you are unable to stay in your current placement, it is really important that you tell your foster carer, social worker, personal advisor or IRO you are interested in the ‘When I am Ready’ scheme at least 6 months prior to turning 18. You must be living in your new foster placement before your 18th birthday, to give you the chance to develop a relationship with your new foster carers.
What happens if I am going to further education or university?
If you are studying away from your home, you may want to return home during the holidays. Under the ‘When I am Ready’ scheme, you can come back to your foster carer during the holidays as long as it is written into your Pathway Plan.
How much money will I have?
If you are under 18, Rhondda Cynon Taf will pay you a weekly allowance. When you turn 18 you may be eligible for benefits depending on your circumstances. The benefits system can be complicated so if you’re not sure about what to do you can talk to your social worker or personal advisor who can support you with this.
Your personal advisor or social worker may also be able to support you to access the following depending on your age and needs.
- Weekly living - Maintenance
- Accommodation – rent
- Driving – drivers licence, driving theory/test, some driving lessons
Setting up Home Allowance
Setting up Home Allowance is money from Rhondda Cynon Taf used to buy items/furniture for your first home. The amount given to you when you leave care varies depending on your needs and risks. Someone from Rhondda Cynon Taf’s Aftercare would go with you to buy the items.