What is a ‘care leaver’?
When a young person reaches the age of 18 years old, they are no longer a ‘looked after child’, but is now a ‘care leaver’. A ‘looked after child’ is a child under 18 who has been taken into care by a local authority by reason of a care order. A ‘care leaver’ is a an adult who has previously been cared for by someone other than their birth family.
The Leaving Care Act
There is a very important piece of law introduced in 2000 for care leavers called “The Leaving Care Act“. To summarise, it explains your entitlements as a looked after child and a care leaver. There are three types of young people mentioned in the Act:
- Eligible Child: A child aged 16-17 years who is looked after and has been for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14 years old.
- Relevant Child: A 16-17 looked after child who has been in care, but has left care.
- Former Relevant Child: A young person over 18 who previously was ‘eligible’ or ‘relevant’. It is the duty of the local authorities to support this young person, at least until 21 years old. You are entitled to support with education, employment and finances from the help of a personal advisor.