If you have been in care for 13 weeks, without a break, and are in care on or after your 16th birthday, you have the right to various services

In this section you can find out what support we offer you if you have experienced being in care. If you are no longer in care for whatever reason eg. you may have returned home or are now old enough to live independently, you may be referred to as a ‘care leaver’.

We’ll tell you more about your care advisor and the support you can get for your education, training and employment, plus more about the care leavers ambassadors and courses you can join to help prepare you for life after being in care.

Care leavers

We want to make sure that your needs are supported in the right way. If you are care experienced you will fit into a particular category of ‘care leaver’.

These key words and definitions are described below. If you need further help understanding them, you can discuss them with your social worker or leaving care advisor. 

You are an eligible care leaver if:

  • you are aged 16 or 17; and
  • you are currently a young person in care, and
  • you have been in care for a period of at least 13 weeks since the age of 14, which must include at least one day since your 16th birthday.

You are a relevant care leaver if:

  • You are no longer cared for by the local authority, but you have previously been an ‘Eligible’ care leaver and,
  • You are 16 or 17 years old.

You are a former relevant care leaver if:

  • You are aged between 18 and 21 and before reaching 18 you were or had been a Relevant Care Leaver or immediately before you stopped being cared for you were an eligible care leaver.
  • If at the age of 21 and up to reaching the age of 25 where you continue or return to be in full time education or training, then you can remain as a former relevant care leaver for the duration of the agreed programme.

You are a qualifying care leaver if:

  • You are at least 16 but under 21, and
  • You were a cared for young person prior to the making of a Special Guardianship Order which was in force when you reached 18, or
  • If at any time after you reached the age of 16 you were no longer looked after, or accommodated or,
  • You were privately fostered and assessed to be in need.

Read our Care leavers Financial Policy

Learn More

Read our Care Leavers Local Offer to learn what support you will receive from us

Learn More

Your Care Leaver Advisor

Your Leaving Care Advisor will help you to access the relevant services that affect your life such as:

  • Studying
  • Family/relationships
  • Immigration
  • Health
  • Financial support
  • Employment

Brighter Futures for Children will:

  • Support with housing
  • Appoint a personal Leaving Care Advisor
  • Assess your needs and provide support accordingly
  • Prepare a Pathway Plan and review this regularly to reflect changes in your circumstances
  • Contribute to the cost of living associated with studying at university including paying for non term-time accommodation
  • Help with the cost of travelling to training or college
  • Help to access bursaries to which you are entitled

Education / Employment Support

We will give you financial help for education/training and employment purposes.

A Higher Education grant of up to £2,000 for the duration of your course, payable in instalments after successful completion of each term.

We are responsible for your accommodation during term breaks. This could include ‘staying put’ with a previous carer or family member, payment of rent in private accommodation or your own tenancy

We help you access a vulnerable pupil bursary if you are at college or other similar educational institutions in England

We will help you with the cost of buying suitable clothing for work related and employment opportunities if you show commitment and proactivity towards employment and training

If you live independently will provide you with an allowance to maintain your apprenticeship, training or education in line with your Pathway Plan. We will recognise your achievement with an incentive including a free bus pass to your place of work or education

If your work requires specific clothing, equipment or qualifications, we will provide financial assistance to enable you to access these, this includes the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)

Care leaver ambassadors

Our care leaver ambassadors meet once a month to discuss things that matter specifically to them. The group is open to care leavers aged 17+.

Brighter Futures for Children are proud of Reading Care Leavers and as such have created Care leaver Ambassador roles.

The role gives an opportunity for the ambassadors to share their experience to support change, influence and develop services to help themselves and other children and young people in care and other care leavers. Their voice is a powerful one that helps create a positive change in how Brighter Futures for Children through listening to them is committed for all children in care to have positive experiences and outcomes.

We have worked on a numbers of projects and some are ongoing. These are examples of some of them:

  • We wanted more books to read – we contacted a national book store and they now provide books for us that we swap with each other.
  • When we moved into independent living, many of us didn’t know how to cook – we have produced a care leavers cookbook to share with care leavers in Reading.
  • We want to stay fit and healthy – we now have discounted gym membership.
  • We want staff at Brighter Futures for Children to listen to us and hear our stories, so they can learn from us. We have set up a time to listen slot, when care leavers can speak about their life journey once a month to staff members.
  • We wanted life story work to be done properly – we came up with a top tips for staff when doing life story work.
  • We decide on topics, themes, services and any areas of being in care to discuss at meetings
  • We have an agenda for meetings and send out minutes after any meetings
  • We work towards achieving change through annual campaigns decided by us
  • We invite appropriate leaders, managers, staff members and Corporate Parents to meetings when they are required
  • We actively participate in discussion and share opinions on our own or others experiences in care
  • We decide on actions and who should complete them.

We meet once a month from 4-6pm. Our meetings are relaxed and fun. If you’d like to join us or want to know more about it, contact Francesca, our Participation Officer, for further details about the time and location on 07885 822 491 or email her at francesca.hubbard@brighterfuturesforchildren.org.

Skills 4 a Brighter Future programme

At Brighter Futures for Children we know how important independent living skills are for care leavers so we have created, in conjunction with care leavers, an accredited six-week programme known as Skills 4 a Brighter Future.

The programme includes:

My money

Finances, benefits, budgeting and how to make your money go further

My home

Housing options, managing a tenancy, budgeting for bills, cleaning and being a good neighbour

My health

Drugs, alcohol, keeping fit, healthy eating and healthy feelings

My friends

Peer influences, friendships, healthy relationships and sexual health and consent

My safety

Internet dating, social media, support networks, who to turn to for help, avoiding internet fraud, cyber security

My future

Writing a CV, applying for jobs, interviews, education and grants

ASPIRE - a group for Reading Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking children and young people in care

The ASPIRE is a participation group for Reading Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking children and young people in care to come together to promote their views, wishes and opinions.

They are involved in the planning and decision making processes on matters that affect their individual lives and for others by giving feedback on services provided for them by Brighter Futures for Children.

ASPIRE provides a safe space for unaccompanied asylum seeker children and young people in care to be listened to and help to achieve positive change for the better.

ASPIRE work together to create a welcoming environment that encourages all to participate, share ideas and experiences.

Details on future meetings to come.

For further information, email francesca.hubbard@brighterfuturesforchildren.org

Join our Facebook group

We have a private Facebook group for our Reading care leavers to support you and give you advice.

It’s also an opportunity to connect with others who may have similar experiences or be in a similar situation to you.

Find us on Facebook

Being in care

Learn More


Learn More

Back to Young People's Zone