Volume 3: Planning transition to adulthood for care leavers - including guidance on the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010

These regulations and guidance are intended to ensure that care leavers are given the same level of care and support their peers would expect from a reasonable parent and that they are provided with the opportunities and chances needed to help them move successfully to adulthood.

Research and practice show that care leavers have the best chance of success if those responsible for their support take the following principles into account as they work with young people for their transition to adulthood:

  • Would this be good enough for my own child?
  • Providing a second chance if things don’t go as expected;
  • Is this tailored to their individual needs, particularly if they are more vulnerable than other young people?

The guidance seeks to place these principles at the centre of decision making for care leavers. The regulations and guidance came into force on 1 April 2011.

The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000

The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 came into force in October 2001.

Key provisions of the act are:

  • Local authorities (LAs) have a duty to assess and meet the needs of young people aged 16 and 17 who are in care or care leavers. Wherever the young person lives the duty will rest with the LAs to keep in touch with care leavers until they are at least 21.
  • Every eligible young person in care should receive a comprehensive pathway plan when they turn 16. This plan should map out a clear route to independence.
  • Each young person should have an adviser who will coordinate the provision of support and assistance to meet the needs of the young person. Particular emphasis will be placed on helping the young person into education, training or employment.
  • A financial regime will be provided for care leavers to ensure they have comprehensive financial support.
  • Continuing assistance for care leavers aged 18 to 21, especially with education and employment, will be provided. Assistance with education or training continues to the end of the agreed programme, even if it takes some past the age of 21.

The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 is available on the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) website.

Good practice guidance and other resources

In order to improve services for care leavers and help LAs and key organisations design and plan their services post implementation, the Department has also worked with partner organisations to produce good practice guidance:

What could make the difference? Care leavers and benefits (March 2010)This report published by the National Care Advisory Service (NCAS) explores the issues that care leavers face with the benefits system and suggests some solutions.

Journeys to home: Care leavers' successful transition to independent accommodation 
A good practice guide for local authorities and their partners on accommodation for young people from and in care. The guide is accompanied by a work planning tool.

Care leavers accommodation resources flyer
Details the resources produced as part of the Department-funded accommodation project which ran in 2008-9.

National protocol: Inter-authority arrangements – second revised edition
This protocol provides arrangements for negotiating support for care leavers resident outside of their responsible authority.

Future positive: A resource guide for people working with disabled care leavers 2006
A resource which assists LAs in the development of effective, joined-up services which support young disabled people up to the age of 19 leaving LA care.

Useful website

More information about care leavers and leaving care services can be obtained from the following website:

National Care Advisory Service