Young people who have been ‘looked after’ are entitled to continuing support from their local authority (LA) when they leave care. The LA must appoint a Personal Advisor to help care leavers plan for their futures, access the support they need from mainstream services and provide practical and emotional support. Personal Advisor support is now available for all care leavers to age 25 (support previously ended at age 21 for most care leavers).
LAs also have a duty to consult on and publish their ‘local offers’ for care leavers. This sets out care leavers’ legal entitlements, as well as any further discretionary support that the LA provides. They also have a duty to provide a £2,000 bursary to care leavers who attend university. LAs are required to provide financial support to help care leavers engage in education; employment and training; and a leaving care grant (£2,000) to help the young person furnish their first home.
Since 2014, LAs have been under a duty to provide financial support to enable young people in foster care to remain living with their former foster family to age 21 in a Staying Put arrangement. The department has announced funding of over £33 million in 2020-21 to support implementation, an increase of approximately £10 million (40%) on 2019-20. A National Care Leaving Advisor was appointed in 2018 to support LAs to improve their leaving care services.
In October 2019, we announced the establishment of a cross-government ministerial board to drive better outcomes for care leavers and we have an on-going programme of work with other departments to identify changes to their policies that will impact positively on care leavers’ lives.