A young person in care has a right to be supported by their local authority until they are 21 years old, or 25 if they remain in education or have health problems, although they can leave care at 18 if it is felt to be appropriate. The process of leaving care must not be sudden or traumatic, and your social worker must follow a series of steps to help you into independent living as an adult.
If you are a child in care and you are 16 years old, the local authority must work with you to plan your transition. Together you will draw up a Pathway Plan covering your health, education or training, financial management, and contact with your family, which will be reviewed every six months until you leave care. At 18, you can leave care if you have a plan in place to house and support you, although you can still ask for support from the council until you turn 21 (or sometimes 25), and the council will continue to support you financially if you stay in education.
At 21, the council will identify a social worker to act as your personal advisor, who will continue to provide support while you leave care. They will also call a Statutory Review Meeting, in which you, your advocate, your social worker, your carers, and an Independent Reviewing Officer meet to discuss where you will live, whether you’ll look for work or continue in training or education, and how much support you will receive from the council in future.