Most young people who have been in care are entitled to help from the homelessness department of the council if they become homeless. The help you are entitled to usually depends on your age and personal circumstances.
Care leavers under the age of 18
If you are under the age of 18 and homeless, social services are responsible for finding you somewhere to live. The accommodation they find you must be suitable for your particular needs and might be supported housing, or perhaps a private lodging with support for dealing with things like bills and applying for benefits.
All 16 and 17 years olds in Wales are also entitled to help with housing from the council’s homelessness department. If you apply as homeless, the homelessness department should accept you as ‘priority need‘ and should work together with social services to help you find a solution which is in your best interests.
18 to 21 year old care leavers
If you are over 18 but under 21 and have spent any time, however short, in care, then the council’s homelessness department should accept you as ‘priority need‘ and provide you with emergency housing whilst they decide what other help to give you. In most cases the council will try and prevent your homelessness or help you to find some other accommodation. If they are unable to do this then they will have to provide you with long-term accommodation.
If you are a care leaver, social services also have a duty to help you until you reach the age of 21, or, if you are in continuing further education, until you are 24.
If you are entitled to help from both housing and social services departments, they should work together to provide whatever help you need. For example, social services can ask the housing department to house you. They are not allowed just to tell you that they can’t help you and send you to the other department. If this happens, get advice immediately.
21 years old and above care leavers
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.
Social services can also help you by providing assistance with education and training until your 25th birthday. If you are in full-time further or higher education and you have nowhere to stay outside term time they must also find you somewhere to live.
If you have problems getting either the homelessness department or social services to help you, contact Shelter Cymru straight away.