Care Leavers

What do I need to know?

Leaving care and getting your own place is a big step. You might feel excited but also worried and a bit unsettled.

Being well prepared can help make sure your move and your time in your new place goes well.

Try and sort out a place to live and how you are going to pay your bills before you leave. Your Personal Adviser should help you do this.

Don’t be afraid to ask your Personal Adviser questions if you are not sure about something.

As a care leaver you should be able to get housing and other help from your local council.

Find Out More

Before you leave care you should be given:

  • a Pathway Plan setting out what support you might need to live on your own and what type of housing would be most suitable for you
  • a Personal Adviser.

Your Personal Adviser should:

  • help you make choices about where to live
  • help you with application forms for housing and benefits
  • keep in touch with you once you leave care.

If you don’t have a Personal Adviser or a Pathway Plan contact your local social services department straight away. If you need help doing this, chat to us by clicking on the options below. We might be able to help you sort this out.

  • Council housing is usually the cheapest way to rent but there are very few places available and there is usually a long waiting list. As a care leaver, you may get priority. Ask your Personal Adviser to help you complete the application forms.
  • Housing associations offer housing and rights similar to council housing. The application process usually works in the same way, and care leavers may get priority in certain areas.
  • Renting a place from a private landlord is generally the most expensive option. You will need a deposit and some rent in advance before you can move in. Most private rented tenancies only last for 6 or 12 months.
  • Supported accommodation could be an option if you don’t feel that you are quite ready to manage living on your own. This is usually provided by councils or housing associations and places are limited. You have support based where you live.

Our chart sets out all of the different options you have.

  • Under 18s : social services should help find you somewhere to live. You can also make a homelessness application to your local council – you should be accepted as priority need and the homelessness department should work together with social services to help you find a suitable place.
  • Over 18 but under 21 : if you have spent any time, however short, in care, then the council’s homelessness department should accept you as priority need and find you emergency housing whilst they decide what other help to give you. Social services also have a duty to help you until you reach the age of 21.
  • 21 or over : some older care leavers can get accommodation from the homelessness department if they can show that they are vulnerable for some special reason. This may be the case if you are vulnerable as a result of having been in care, for example, if you haven’t had a stable home since you left care, or you have slept on the streets in the past.

If you have problems getting either the homelessness department or social services to help you, chat to us by clicking on one of the options below.

  • Benefits : when you turn 18 you will be able to claim benefits. You should be able to claim income support, jobseeker’s allowance or universal credit if you need to. Find out more about benefits from Gov.uk. Special rules apply if you are a care leaver aged 16 or 17 – find out more on the Turn2Us website
  • Paying for your rent : when you turn 18 you should be able to apply for housing benefit or universal credit housing costs to help you pay for your rent. If you’ve been in care, and are 18 – 22, you should be entitled to housing benefit for a one-bedroom flat of your own
  • Paying for a deposit or rent in advance : you may be able to get help to pay a deposit or a budgeting loan to pay rent in advance if you are going to rent a place from a private landlord.
  • Council tax : care leavers under the age of 25 do not have to pay council tax in Wales.

You will need to work out a budget and think about how you’re going to pay for your accommodation before you leave care. Social services should help you to manage your money and gradually become independent but it would be a good idea to start by using a budget planner. If you need more advice or help with money matters have a look at our money advice pages.

There is lots of other emergency help out there. Click here to read more.

Use our Support Near You search tool to find organisations who can help you in your area.

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Rydym yn ymddiheuro na fedrwn ddarparu’r wybodaeth yma yn Gymraeg, ond os hoffech siarad ag ymgynghorydd yn Gymraeg yna cysylltwch ar 08000 495 495.
We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

This page was last updated on: August 13, 2020

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.