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When will I leave care?

When you are looked after by Lambeth Council, your time in care will end at some point.  This can happen in a few different ways.  If you are still in care when you are 18, and you have a Care Order, this will end automatically.  This means that you are independent.  When you are over 16 you can ask to have your care order stopped.  You will need to go through the court process to do this.  You can talk to your social worker and independent review officer about this, and can contact an advocate for extra support if you think that will help you.

If you are over 16, and you have been accommodated without a Care Order, this can end at any time if you, your parents and Lambeth Council agree.  If you would prefer to stay looked after you can do this, even if you parents don’t agree. 

It can be an exciting yet scary time when you are leaving care.  There is a lot to think about – paying bills, studying or working, looking after yourself, cooking and cleaning, and having fun and time for your self of course! 

What will happen when I turn 16?

If you have been looked after for 13 weeks since you were 14, and you are still looked after when you are 16 (a bit confusing!), then you will be able to get help from Lambeth’s Leaving Care Services. 

To make sure that you are ready to live on your own, you will get a new Social Worker when you turn 16 (or when you are 15 and nearly 16).  They work in a team called The Leaving Care Team.  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 18.  It is the Leaving Care service’s job to make sure you have a Social Worker, financial assistance, and somewhere to live.

Just because you have a new social worker does not mean that you will move where you are living.  Usually you can stay where you are living if you are still happy there.  If you are ready, you might move where you are living to a place that gives you more independence.  This is called Semi-Independent living.  Your social worker and independent reviewing officer will talk to you about this when you are 15 and/or 16.


When you turn 16, your new social worker will talk to you and other people who are important to you to find out more about you and what your needs are.  They will help you to think about your future – what you are studying, what you want to do in the future and your independence skills.  You should be involved in these meetings to be able to say what your wishes and feelings are.  This is called a needs assessment, and is something the law says has to happen within 3 months after your 16th birthday.  Your needs assessment is written into what is called a Pathway Plan.  Although it may seem like more paperwork, your Pathway Plan is there to help you to take control of your life. It is there to help you to plan future goals and tasks, and to deal with any worries you have or challenges you may face.

A pathway plan will help you to:

  • Prepare for living independently
  • Get work or start a course
  • Become self sufficient
  • make a successful transition from care into your own home
  • build and sustain a permanent home for yourself
  • plan for the unexpected
  • achieve your goals and ambitions

You will complete your Pathway Plan and review it at least every six months.

Your pathway plan will be written down and you will get a copy of this. (Click here to see the plan)  You will have this plan until you are 21 or 24 if you are in further education or training. 

Your Social Worker will keep working with you until you are 18, and will help you plan for the future and continue to make sure that you are safe and that all of your needs are met.

What help will you get from your Social Worker?

  • information, advice and support throughout the time that you will be leaving care
  • help in completing and reviewing your Pathway Plan
  • Links to other services that you may need
  • Assistance in undertaking tasks yourself, rather than doing tasks for you.