A care leaver is defined as a person aged 25 or under, who has been looked after by a local authority for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14; and who was looked after by the local authority at school-leaving age or after that date.
If you are a ‘looked after child,’ Staffordshire County Council’s Children’s Services is responsible for finding you somewhere to live until you turn 18.
Before you turn 18, your Personal Advisor at Children’s Services should help you make a ‘pathway plan’ which is your plan for training or further education and what help and support you need after you leave care, including financial support. The pathway plan should say:
- what accommodation you need
- how your needs will be met
- who will meet these needs
Your Personal Advisor can help you with application forms for housing, benefits, and education and/or training courses. They should also help you with learning life skills, like how to budget.
Your personal adviser should stay in contact with you and provide ongoing support and help until you turn 21 or until your 25th birthday if you are still studying full time.
Get advice if you don't have a personal adviser. You may be able to get one even if you didn't get one while you were still in care.
Staffordshire Looked After Children Service Team
Tel: 01782 296290
Emergency Duty Number: 01785 354030
If you will be homeless, or in housing need, when you turn 18, the Housing Options Team at Stafford Borough Council will be able to provide you with further help, support and guidance.
If you are a care leaver and do not have accommodation available to you, you can apply to our housing register.
You can apply to our Housing Register before your 18th birthday but you will not be offered accommodation until you turn 18, unless you have a guarantor who will be responsible for the tenancy.
We may ask for a support plan from your Personal Advisor to demonstrate that you will be able to manage your own tenancy, for example, understanding that you are responsible for your guests in the property, ability to live independently, budget and manage finances. You may have support from your Personal Advisor in achieving this. Further information is contained within our Allocation Policy (pdf 599kb).
Care Leavers, under the age of 21, who normally live in a different area of Staffordshire and have done so for at least two years (including some time before their 16th birthday) will be exempt from our usual local connection criteria.
You can apply to the Housing Register by contacting Housing Options on 01785 619000, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also wish to register directly for housing with Homes Plus who own the majority of housing stock in Stafford by accessing their website - Home - Homes Plus
Choices made around housing for young people can have long-term impacts on your ability to find accommodation later in life, for example if you fall behind on your rent payments or lose accommodation due to problems with friends causing noise and nuisance.
It is important that Staffordshire County Council, the Housing Options Service and any provider of housing works closely together to help you with your first tenancy.
Support is often available, so it is important that you ask for help. Your personal advisor or housing provider or the housing options team can be a point of contact.
If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness, it is important to contact the Housing Options Team who will assess your situation and provide you with the relevant housing advice and assistance.
If you have spent at least one night in care whilst you were 16 or 17 years old, you will automatically be considered in priority need for homeless assistance until your 21st birthday, which means that Housing Options will have a duty to provide you with emergency accommodation if you are homeless and eligible for assistance.
If you are a care leaver and over 21 years of age, the Housing Options team will determine whether you are in ‘priority need’ for emergency accommodation. We will assess each case on an individual basis, exploring the vulnerability of the person approaching our service.
Regardless of whether you are considered in priority need, the Housing Options Team can help you to find long-term accommodation if you are homeless and eligible for assistance.
Staffordshire County Council has specialist Homeless Personal Advisors who can provide you with further advice and assistance if you find that you are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless.
When you turn 18 you are entitled to claim benefits. You should be able to claim Universal Credits. We can refer you to Citizen’s Advice who will be able to check what you are entitled to or your personal advisor should help you to apply.
Usually if you are aged under 35 and you rent from a private landlord, the maximum housing benefit you can get is the same rate you would get for renting a single room in a shared house. If you've been in care, this doesn't apply until you turn 22.
You should be entitled to housing benefit for a one-bedroom self-contained accommodation of your own, even if you have just spent one night in care.
There is a maximum amount that you can be paid for housing-related benefits, which depends on the area you live in. The maximum rates of entitlement (known as Local Housing Allowance) are available here: Local Housing Allowance Rates - Staffordshire North.
Extra Help for Moving into a New Place
If you are a care leaver moving to a new place, you can get a setting up home allowance (also known as a leaving care grant) to help you buy essential things when moving into your own home. Speak to your personal adviser about this.
NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service)
Provides advocacy for the following groups of children and young people. The service is available for care leavers up to the age of 25.
Tel: 0800 808 1001
Centrepoint help 16-25 year olds into a safe place to live, provide a health assessment and plan support for their individual mental and physical health needs. Centrepoint is the UK's leading charity for homeless young people.
Tel: 0808 800 0661
Barnardo’s runs 22 leaving care services across the UK. The services aim to bridge the gap for young people leaving care and living in the adult world. The services help young people to develop the life skills they need to look after themselves, and include encouraging them to look at employment, training or further education opportunities.
Tel: 01827 286643
St Basils helps young people aged 16-25, across the West Midlands region, who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Tel: 0300 303 0099
The Care Leavers Foundation
They can offer modest but vital grants to care leavers aged 18-29 who are in crisis, or who want to take control of their lives and develop new skills.
Tel: 01678 540598
The Housing Options Team, based at Stafford Borough Council, can provide you with advice on your housing needs and explain what options are available to you.
Tel: 01785 619000
If you are homeless and the council offices are closed, then you can contact the homelessness out of hours service on 01785 619170. You should only use this service if you have nowhere to stay immediately.