Leaving care

What we do

The leaving care service works with young people leaving care aged 16 to 25.  All young people who are eligible for a service are entitled to support up to the age of 25 regardless of their circumstances.

If you’re not sure whether the offer applies to you, of if there is anything else in this guide that you don't understand, speak to your social worker or personal adviser. 

If you don’t have a social worker or personal adviser, get in touch with the Leaving Care Team and they will be able to let you know whether the offer applies to you.  

If you’ve had a personal adviser in the past and would like some support from the Leaving Care Team again, please get back in touch. 

At 16 (or soon after coming into care before you turn 18) you will be supported by a leaving care worker and a social worker up to 18.  At 18 you will no longer have a social worker, but the leaving care team will be with you, if you want, up to the age of 25.  

At 21 we step you forward to a less intensive service.  We want you to be your own independent adult in your own rights, but you are still fully entitled to come back to us at any time and access support offering information, advice and guidance from the leaving care service up to the age of 25.

Being your corporate parents means Lincolnshire, the seven district councils and our partners must provide you with certain support and services, some of these are in law. We want to support you and offer every opportunity you need to be the best you can possibly be and to achieve your goals.

To better meet all your individual needs, we have worked with other organisations who provide services and support, including housing providers, education, health services and community organisations to make sure you know what our offer is.  

We all want you to have every opportunity and the support you need to be the best you can possibly be, so we will give you strong roots of stability in leaving care, love, encouragement, positive relationships and healing from past harm you may have experienced and want to support into successful adulthood.

We work with other partner organisations to provide the services and support outlined in our core offer, including:

  • housing providers
  • schools, colleges and universities
  • businesses
  • voluntary and community organisations

Our service users have made a short video, showing what you get from the service

How can we help?

The team will work closely with you, your social worker and your carers when you are 16 and 17. This will ensure that you are ready and able to make a successful move into adulthood.

We will support and advocate on your behalf. We will carry out a six-monthly pathway review meeting with you and other agencies and organisations that may be helping you.

We offer funding for new home grants, help by paying for education and have options for apprenticeships and employment support. 

Our promise to you

As a department, we will:

  • respect and honour your identity
  • believe in you, take your views into account and never give up on you
  • discuss your needs with you and listen to your views
  • give you the information you need in every aspect of life, including opportunities and rights
  • support you with your needs and the decisions you have to make
  • enhance your life skills to help you find and manage a home
  • listen to you and be available when possible


Is it for me?

We want you to feel safe and supported and know where and who to go for advice and help.

Our care leaver offer describes all the support available to young people who are leaving care.

Accessing support and services

To access support and services, speak with your social worker or leaving care worker.

If you don’t have a social worker or leaving care worker, contact our care leaving service. We will tell you if we can help you.

We must offer you support to live on your own, but the support you will get depends on what type of care leaver you are.

You must be either eligible, relevant, qualifying, former relevant and been in acre for more than 13 weeks before turning 18.  

There may be some elements of this offer that you are not entitled to if you are:

  • a former unaccompanied asylum-seeking child
  • awaiting leave to remain status from the Home Office

Your rights checklist

By law, you are entitled to:

  • be involved in decisions about your life
  • support and advice until your 25th birthday
  • a pathway plan detailing your goals for the future
  • request access to any information we may hold about you
  • be listened to and supported in where you decide to live
  • know we won’t share your information with others without your consent
  • support to find and access housing
  • support ot access education and achieve your aspirations
  • help to find employment and apprenticeships

You may need additional support because you:

  • were an unaccompanied child and your immigration status is unclear
  • are leaving custody or have been in contact with the criminal justice system
  • are a young parent
  • are going through a difficult time in your personal life
  • have special educational needs or a disability
  • regardless of your circumstances, we will make sure your pathway plan reflects your needs

For more information about what you are entitled to, visit GOV.uk.

If you have special educational needs or disabilities, you can view our Local Offer. It describes the help you can expect in your local area.

If we were not the area that looked after you when you were in care, contact the local authority that cared for you. They can find out what leaving care services and support you are entitled to under their offer.

In these cases, your leaving care worker will advise you of what additional support we can provide.

Have your say

We want to hear what you have to say so that we can improve our support and services.

There are several participation groups you can get involved with:

  • Big conversation – a forum for young people with special educational needs and disabilities. Young people help shape disabled children's service, support with staff training and recruitment
  • Children in Care Council – a council for young people aged 11 to 18 years, who are looked after. It represents children and young people's views to corporate parent forum, plans, campaigns and projects.
  • Care Experienced Consultants - these are care leavers who work on projects with the council and partners. They support the work of the corporate parent forum and transitions board

If you want to get involved, speak with your leaving care worker.

How to deal with a problem or make a complaint

We know it's not always easy to speak out. However, it's your right to say how you feel about things that affect you and to be heard. You could try talking to:

  • your social worker
  • your leaving care worker
  • someone who looks after you

If you wish to make a complaint or compliment someone, call us on 01522 575955 and ask to talk to the leaving care service manager.

If you have spoken to the leaving care service manager, but you are still not happy, contact the National Youth Advocacy Service on 0808 616 101.

Homes and accommodation

There are many choices you could make about where to live. Your leaving care worker will support you to decide which is right for you.

Options available to you

If you are under 18, we must pay for your housing and make sure it is suitable.

A move to independent living can be a big step so we can give you options, such as:

  • returning home for a short time
  • remaining with a foster carer
  • moving to supported lodgings
  • a semi-independent option

Once you are 18:

  • you are responsible for paying your rent and expenses
  • if you remain in education, we will only pay for accommodation during holidays

You may be eligible for help towards moving into your new home. We will give you a grant of £2,000 to help you buy things you need for your home.

Returning home

You may still be in contact with your birth family and choose to return home.

If you live with your family for more than six months, we do not have a legal duty to maintain your pathway plan.

Living in supported lodgings

Supported lodgings give you the chance to live in a home with a supportive adult or 'lodgings provider'. The adult may be a single person or part of a family or couple who should:

  • have great communication skills
  • offer a safe and friendly environment
  • be able to relate to young people
  • be supportive of young people's needs
  • be open-minded and approachable
  • provide an individual room and use of shared facilities along with a house key
  • involve you in day-to-day tasks

Barnardo's will provide lodgings providers with ongoing training.

Staying with your foster parents

A 'staying put arrangement' is not the same as a foster placement. It is where you can remain with your former foster carers after your 18 birthday. You can stay until you are 21. 

We will discuss 'staying put' as an option during your pathway. We will expect you to:

  • contribute towards your living costs to your carer or us
  • pay for your clothes, travel costs and spending money
  • create a living together agreement, saying what is expected from both of you
  • have to have a DBS check, if your former foster carer is looking after other children in the same household
  • claim any benefits you are entitled to

Support and advice

Whatever you decide, your personal adviser can provide support with:

  • becoming a high-priority applicant on housing waiting lists
  • paying your rent, such as a 100 per cent council tax discount
  • advice about tenancy, budgeting and avoiding rent arrears
  • helping you to claim the benefits you are entitled to
  • moving into and furnishing your home, including a financial grant
  • a housing crisis
  • your utility bills, such as installing key card meters
  • arrange regular visits and reviews of your pathway plan
  • our housing teams to offer dedicated support from experts

Homelessness prevention for 16 to 25-year-olds

We work with district councils to offer integrated and coordinated support to young people aged 16 and 17.

As long as it is safe, you are generally better off living at home or within your family and planning when to move.

Homelessness at a young age should be avoided wherever possible. This includes leaving home in an unplanned way with nowhere to go.

Living alone at an early age can be lonely and stressful. Plan ahead and do not leave in a hurry.

Lincolnshire NEST care leavers homeless prevention provides support to children in care and care leavers aged 18 to 25 across Lincolnshire to find and maintain suitable housing.
They operate across all districts in Lincolnshire.

Their dedicated transition team focus on exploring opportunities and ensuring earlier accommodation planning for those who have left care, or are leaving care, and require support to sustain their accommodation or to find suitable accommodation.
Lincolnshire NEST CLHP is open to all Lincolnshire children in care and care leavers who are homeless or in unsuitable accommodation, or those who require some housing related support to maintain their accommodation.
All referrals and applications should be made via telephone. Enquiries should be made via email.

If you are homeless or immediately struggling, Lincolnshire NEST can help or speak to your leaving care worker

Finding accommodation

If you are under 18 and find yourself in difficulty and homeless, district councils will ensure you are safely supported.

Housing team contacts
District council Contact details
Boston Housing Options Team Email: housing.dept@boston.gov.uk
Call: 01205 314200
East Lindsey Housing Advice Team Email: housing.hub@e-lindsey.gov.uk
Call: 01507 613135
City of Lincoln Housing Solutions Team Email: housingsolutions@lincoln.gov.uk
Call: 01522 873777
North Kesteven Housing Options Team Email: housingoptions@n-kesteven.gov.uk
Call: 01529 414155
South Holland Housing Options Team Email: housingoptions@sholland.gov.uk
Call: 01775 761161
South Kesteven Housing Solutions Team Email: housingsolutions@southkesteven.gov.uk
Call: 01476 40608
West Lindsey Home Choices Team Email: home.choices@west-lindsey.gov.uk
Call: 01427 676676

If you are unable to return home, you might be offered accommodation. If so, you have the right to an assessment of need, which is a report by a social worker. We strongly advise that you take up this offer.

If you need support, our restoring family relationships team can help. They will work with you to find options to keep you safe and return to your family or live safely with friends or relatives.

NEST accommodation

We commission Nacro Education Support and Transition (NEST) to provide accommodation for homeless young people aged 16 to 17 and care leavers up to 21. 

It operates across the seven district councils in Lincolnshire and supports young people with complex needs and young families.

The team will create an innovative, person-centred support package to provide options and opportunities for each young person.

There are different types of accommodation available, such as:

  • shared flats
  • shared houses
  • individual self-contained flats

When the time comes, each young person will move on to their forever home feeling happy, safe and ready to live independent lives.

Within Lincolnshire NEST, we deliver a dedicated intensive need service, which caters for the most complex needs of young people who require a more nurturing environment.

You should get legal advice if the council:

  • refuses to take a homelessness application
  • offers housing that you feel is not suitable
  • make you intentionally homeless. Speak to your leaving care worker or social worker, as there is an agreement with all councils that no care leaver will be considered intentionally homeless without a multi agency meeting and your support network. Do not let anyone say you are intentionally homeless

Here is a protocol about how we are all working together to support you

Do not refuse any housing that a council offers you. You may end its duty to help you.

Shared lives

The shared lives scheme is sometimes known as adult placement. It enables you to stay with a family you have been matched with to help you:

  • find independence
  • learn skills to live independently
  • enjoy life as part of a family and make new friends
  • join in with the family’s community
  • have a safe place to help you get ready to move into your own home

Shared lives carers are ordinary people who have been trained and DBS checked.  Shared lives can be accessed from 16 years old.

Find out about shared lives schemes or visit the adult supporting adults website


Managing your money

When you leave care, we want to support you to become an independent adult.

We know that managing your money can be challenging, so we will help you to:

  • access financial advice via Citizens Advice or the Money Advice Centre
  • open a bank account
  • claim benefits
  • get your National Insurance Number if you don’t have or know it
  • deal with any emergencies
  • set up your home grant for purchasing items, such as furniture
  • get grants, discounts and funding that you are eligible for
  • manage health costs, such as prescriptions, dental care or glasses

Depending on your situation, you may be entitled to:

You will have a Child Trust Fund or Junior ISA bank account from when you were in care. It is money paid in by the Government and us.

You can access it when you turn 18 and either:

  • leave it where it is
  • take it out
  • transfer it to another bank account

Your social worker or personal adviser can tell you more about how to access your account.

Universal credit and benefits

Lincolnshire has an agreement in place with the Department for Work and Pensions. We will jointly aim to support you to access the benefits you might need. We will also aim to make sure no care leavers faces sanctions. There is a protocol in place, if you want to know more, speak to your leaving care worker.

Rent gap

If you are a young person who has left the care of Lincolnshire County Council and you are struggling to cover the gap between your income and the cost of rent and supported living, speak to your leaving care worker as help may be available.  You may be eligible for a short period of discretionary additional funding to help meet you the costs of living in supported housing.  Speak to your leaving care worker for more information

Supporting at college or other education programmes

We will help you receive the financial support you are entitled to at school or college. Depending on your age, type of course and other circumstances, we will help with:

  • registration and exam fees
  • textbooks and software specified as essential
  • activities essential to meet course requirements
  • public transport between home and place of learning
  • transport to open days and interviews
  • specific clothing, such as for interview or course equipment

If you are 18 or 19 and in full-time education, you may be entitled to the 16 to 19 bursary fund. Care leavers are a priority group for this funding which can be up to £1,200 per year. 

If you are 20 or over, we can help you access other funding sources to support you in education and training.

Supporting you at university

We commit to supporting you to succeed at university. Your personal adviser will help you to apply and prepare. They will continue to support you throughout your course if you wish.

They can work with you to ensure you have accommodation, transport, equipment and financial support. They can also help you to apply for any care leaver grants or bursaries that may be available to you at your university.

Further help

We will gift you £15 for your birthday and £50 for your main religious festival.

Young parents may be entitled to help with childcare costs.

See our leaving care and looked after children finance handbook for more in depth details

Work and learning

We will work with you to offer learning and workplace opportunities, such as:

  • college or university
  • work experience
  • apprenticeships
  • job opportunities

We will ensure that you receive any extra help you require if you have special educational needs or disabilities. We will consider the support identified in your Education, Health and Care Plan, if you have one, until age 25.

Careers advice

When you start thinking about work, we will help you access careers advice through your college, university or higher education setting. This may include:

  • help you to develop your CV
  • highlight courses and training to build your skills
  • help you find a job
  • advice about job interviews and employment processes
  • providing a reference

Work experience

Work experience provides opportunities for learning about the skills, behaviours, careers, roles and structures within a workplace.

If you are interested in work experience, speak with your personal advisor.


An apprenticeship is a job combined with a skills development and training programme.

They are an excellent opportunity to develop your skills whilst earning some money.

Care Leavers' Apprenticeship Scheme

The care leavers' apprenticeship scheme (CLAS) is tailor-made to employ looked after children and care leavers.

You may be seconded, where appropriate, to host organisations for the duration of the apprenticeship.

Under this scheme, you can work in sectors ranging from forestry to joinery, motor vehicle mechanics, animal care, elderly care, plumbing, ICT, hairdressing, hospitality and other vocational areas.

If you want to do business administration, you will usually work with us. Speak to your leaving care worker for more information.

Entry qualifications

Apprenticeships vary in length and entry requirements depending upon the area. All include studying one day a week, plus extra maths and English if you don't have at least a grade 4 at GCSE.

The usual route to get to CLAS is via the work preparation programme. It is a two-day course followed by up to 13 weeks of work experience.

The course runs every February, June and October in Sleaford.

To qualify, you need to be our legal responsibility (taken into care by us) and live within a 45-mile radius of Sleaford.

Get involved

All work experience and CLAS placements are tailor-made to meet your needs.

Employment through CLAS is dependent upon successful completion of work experience, including at least 95 per cent attendance.

Barnardo's Lincolnshire Leaving Care Service manage the scheme. For more information, call 01529 309052 or 07881 558214.

Are you thinking of going to college?

If you would like to go to college, your personal advisor will support you in choosing the right course and ensure that you do it well.

Many local colleges provide extra support to care for experienced adults as they want you to succeed and achieve your potential.

To find out more, visit our webpage about local colleges.

If you would like any support accessing and attending open days, interviews or help with your applications, speak with your personal advisor.

Are you thinking of going to university?

If you would like to apply to go to university, we help you to:

  • find a course that is right for you
  • secure suitable accommodation, including during holiday periods
  • get you and your belongings to and from university
  • access financial support, loans and bursaries
  • buy equipment that you may need (such as books and a laptop)

Many universities provide additional support to care experienced adults. It's worth searching their websites or contacting the student support service of the ones you are interested in to find out what they offer.

Health and wellbeing

Looking after yourself is essential. We want to give you all the support you need. We want you to be as physically, mentally and emotionally healthy as possible.

Mental health

  • To find support for children, young people and their families experiencing mental health difficulties, visit the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) website.
  • For free, safe and anonymous online support, visit the Kooth website.
  • The leaving care service in Lincolnshire has a dedicated mental health worker in the team. If you have any questions, concerns or matters you would like to discuss, you can book a meeting or call with Jessica via your leaving care worker. Jessica is here to help you with transition, so if you are nearly 18 but not sure what your options are in adult services, she can help.

Accessing services

Your personal adviser can help you with:

  • healthy living advice, such as quitting smoking, healthy eating or support for drug misuse
  • information about paying for prescriptions
  • registering with a local GP, dentist and optician
  • advice about counselling and adult mental health services
  • your move from CAMHS to adult services
  • transport costs when attending health appointments
  • your understanding of health information from your childhood (for example, your immunisations)
  • your current health needs in a document called your ‘health summary’. For all looked after children 14-18 each health assessment must demonstrate that preparation for transition is being made
  • a comprehensive health history for when the young person leaves care must be provided to the young person and their social worker
  • your health summary will be provided to you at 18 by the health teams. We recommend your share this with your leaving care worker so they can keep a copy safe for you

As a partner of Lincolnshire County Council, the following District Councils are now offering free access to health and leisure facilities for care Leavers from 16 up to the age of 21.

  • North Kesteven District Council
  • West Lindsey District Council

You can now speak to your leaving care worker and apply for free leisure access.  More District Authorities will be offering this soon.

NHS advice

The Local Offer

To find services and events for children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities and their families, visit our Local Offer

Drug and alcohol

Get free, confidential support with alcohol, drugs, or mental health from We Are With You.

Family and relationships

Positive and supportive relationships with family, friends and others can lead to living a happy, safe and successful life. We will support you to have a safe and robust support network around you.

Help create a support network

If you want to, your personal adviser can help you to:

  • contact people who are special to you
  • contact people who cared for you in the past
  • support you to re-connect with family, where it's a positive step
  • develop healthy relationships with friends and family

Understanding your life history

If and when you want to, we will help you understand your time in care and your life history, including your case files.

We can include support to trace your family, if needed, and support with emotions.

Speak to your personal adviser if you would like to look at this through the access to records team.

Personal relationship support

If you are in relationships that are difficult or making you unhappy, your personal adviser can offer support. They will:

  • respect your gender and sexual identity
  • help you access support for your sexual and gender identity needs
  • help you to challenge discrimination as a care-experienced adult

For further advice and support, visit the Lincolnshire Sexual Health website.

Life links

Life Links in Lincolnshire offers all our young people a lifetime of support from the people you choose.  Life Links is a strand of support offered to all our looked after young people and care leavers.  The support is accessed through the Family Group Conference Service and can be sourced up to the age of 25 years.  If you or your leaving care worker think you might benefit, please do not hesitate to speak to the life links team and we will allocate a supporter to you to develop or rebuild your friend or family network.  Reconnecting to people on your own can be daunting, but with support it might just be that bit easier.

If you are a parent

Your personal adviser can help you find support if you are pregnant or have a young child. 

To find parenting groups and other support for young families with children under 5, visit our children's centres.

Get involved

We want you to feel part of the community you live in and wider society. We will support you to have the same opportunities that other young people do.

We will celebrate important life events with you, such as:

  • your birthday
  • religious events
  • cultural events

We will help you to maintain or explore your faith and ethnicity networks.

To find out about different activities, look at the Visit Lincoln website. There is information on social media sites such as Facebook too.


We work in partnership with Barnardos. They aim to:

  • connect with young people to hear their voice
  • promote better ways of working and service development

They are setting up a peer network, where young people can share their experiences and offer advice and guidance to others. It will include groups of representatives for their local area and advocates for:

  • housing
  • education
  • LGBT
  • different ethnicities
  • young parents

It will operate from a digital platform where information can be shared and communicated, also including forums.

For more information, call Barnados on 01522 575955.


Volunteering is a great way to get out of the house, try new things, and build your confidence and skills. It not only raises your self-esteem but also helps you get into work.

New skills gained like communication, teamwork and decision-making can make you stand out from the crowd when applying for a college or job.

To find out about volunteering opportunities, contact your local community and voluntary service:

Another way of getting into volunteering is through the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. You get to experience a range of new activities and challenges, learn new skills and travel to new places with other young people.

Speak to your leaving care worker about this.

If you are a parent

To find out about different activities for children and families across Lincolnshire, visit our Family Services Directory.

Life in the UK

Care-experienced young people with immigration or asylum status are urged to seek specialist advice, such as:

Their personal adviser will support them with this.

Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the United Kingdom are:

  • children outside their country of origin to seek asylum in the United Kingdom,
  • separated from parents and relatives
  • and, are not in the care of someone responsible for doing so

If you are a care leaver with immigration or asylum status, you will have lots of forms and tasks to complete before turning 18 and every few years after that.

If things are not done on time, it can harm your chances of staying in the UK. 

We will give you clear advice through your Pathway Plan to ensure you get the support you need.