Your Pathway Plan

Your Pathway Plan is an important document as it tells you how your Leaving Care Service will support you plan and prepare for life as an independent adult and that you have the right support to achieve your goals in life.

Your plan starts before you leave care (no later than 16 years and 3 months) and will continue to be reviewed and updated as your life changes right up until you are 21 years. If you chose to stay with the service after your 21st birthday (up to 25 years) you may still need a plan which you will agree with your personal advisor.

Your plan covers important areas:

  • Health and development
  • Education, training and employment
  • Emotional and behavioural development
  • Identity
  • Family and social network
  • Money Matters
  • Practical and other skills
  • Accommodation

We will work with you to review your plan at least every 6 months. We can also review your plan if there are significant changes in your life so it continues to be purposeful.

Sometimes you might not agree with what your social worker or personal advisor identifies as important and we will make sure your views are reflected.

We will tell you who we share your plan with (such as your IRO, carers or advocate) and when you are an adult you can tell us who you agree for your plan to be shared with.  

Health and development

When you leave care, we will provide you with the support and guidance you need to take care of your physical and mental health.

We will support you to register with a GP, dentist and optician.

We will be there for you if you are making the move from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to adult services and help you ask the questions important about this transition.

Your Leaving Care Nurses will prepare your Health Passport. This gives you information about your health history and shows you how to register with a GP and a dentist. It also contains information about other services that can provide you with health support. Your Child in Care or Leaving Care Nurse will give you the passport which contains your personal information so it is important to keep it somewhere safe.

Throughout your Leaving Care journey (up to your 25th birthday) you can access support and advice from our dedicated Leaving Care Nurses. Our nurses offer a drop in ‘come and chat’ every Wednesday 1.30pm to 4.30pm, at Sir Henry Mitchell House. [DOES THIS STILL HAPPEN]

We will invite you to Smooth It Out Group; now in its 20th year the group is facilitated by both Social Workers and Personal Advisers in Children in Care and Leaving Care and open to young people age 15 ½ to 21 years and are either looked after or with care leaver eligibility. The group promotes independent living skills, social skills in working together in a group setting including a focus on budgeting, what it means to manage a tenancy and the practical and social skills that support successful transitions to adult life and responsibility. We focus on what it means to be empowered, making informed and good decisions around leaving care and living independently.

You can download healthy living apps from the Council’s Health Apps page to help you access advice and plans which promote healthy living including; healthy eating, exercise, stop smoking, and harm reduction if you are worried about the impact of drugs and alcohol.

We will support you to access My Wellbeing College – a service which helps young people manage everyday problems such as low mood, anxiety, sleep problems and stress. You can contact them directly on 0300 555 5551 or visit their website My Wellbeing College.

We will support you to access a council gym membership or help you find out alternative free ways to keep fit.

We will support you to access confidential advice and guidance so you can make informed decisions about your sexual health: heterosexual and same sex relationships, contraception, family planning and support around gender transitioning. We work closely with both our Leaving Care Nurses and agencies including Locala Community Partnerships.

If you are a parent or parent to be

We can support you in accessing Locala Community Partnership for free confidential support and advice.

We can help you access Early Help Services that make sure you get more intense support as a new parent. This will start while you are pregnant and continue up to your child turning 2. This is to help you learn what it means to be a parent, support you in developing routines and learning how to be a good parent. They can also support you accessing children’s centres and parenting classes.

Early help services such a children’s centres and parenting classes are available for you to attend and participate in if you would want extra support in being a good parent. Your PA can help you access these settings. We can attend with you or wait outside if this will help you feel more confident.

If you have a child and they have a social worker

We will do what we can to support you in understanding what is happening and managing any decision made about your child. If you invite us we will be present at any meeting or court hearing, any meeting with your child’s social worker or with your solicitor.

“Talk about any worries early with someone you know will listen and work out a plan that will work for you” (YP, CiC Council)

Preparation for working life: education, employment and training

In Bradford we want all of our young people to have the opportunities to achieve their goals. We know that education, skills and employment can increase and improve your experiences whether your goal is to be financially independent, career orientated or to make friends in a new environment, we know it’s not a one size fits all journey.

We will offer you:

  • Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) from our dedicated Personal Advisers and colleagues within the Virtual School including routes into employment which might include traineeships and apprenticeships
  • Preparation for interviews: from mock questions with your Personal Adviser, support to access online resources and if you need it, a clothing grant to make sure you feel at your best
  • Help with writing your CV and in accessing specialist careers support via Skills House Bradford (formally known as Connexions) – Skillshouse
  • If you are eligible, support to access the 16 to 19 Learning Bursary* from your education or training provider so you can purchase the equipment you might need or pay for travel costs to your course.
  • Support you to access Bradford Vibe at Forsters College. Bradford Vibe is a community initiative led by the Department for Work and Pensions, hosted by Bradford College and supported by a wide variety of services all under one roof. It supports 18 to 25 year-olds who have multiple barriers to gaining employment and are receiving benefits.
  • Traineeships are an exciting way to achieve your qualifications whilst learning on the job and can be a stepping stone into an apprenticeship. Your Personal Adviser can link you with local learning providers including Qube Learning to find the pathway in the industry you are interested.
  • Apprenticeships start at Level 2 up to degree level, where you can undertake work based learning alongside study. You will be paid as part of your apprenticeship and can find out more via Apply for an Apprenticeship.You will also be eligible for a one off grant of £1000 Apprenticeships Bursary-for Care Leavers.
  • come along with you to open days and job fayres so you can find out what opportunities might be in your reach and build on your confidence in speaking with potential employers

*Care leavers are a priority group for the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund administered by FE colleges, which pays a bursary of up to £1,200 a year to support vulnerable young people to participate in education or if over 19 the discretionary bursary for costs associated with your course

If your path takes you to university 

  • support you if you choose to study higher education alongside your employment or whilst remaining in your own accommodation.
  • help you navigate Student Finance and whether your chosen Higher Education establishment offers anything further for students who are also care leavers.
  • help you decide on the right affordable university or student accommodation, and if needed where you will stay in the holidays.
  • assist you with a bursary of £2000 to help with the costs of books and materials spread over the length of your course. The HE Bursary can be paid termly, annually or as a lump sum at the end of the course depending on your individual circumstances and needs. We offer financial support for one course of higher education. This will be paid in the same way as National Funding, for example the length of the course (plus one extra year if required)
  • If you are a Qualifying young person; you are entitled to an assessment of your needs, to establish whether you require advice and assistance to maximise your right to national grants, bursaries and student loans. Where, following assessment, support is identified as required over a period of time, a plan will be completed to outline the support to be provided. As a Qualifying young person, you will not, as a right, be entitled to higher education financial support such as the student bursary or accommodation fees.

“Speak to your PA, I didn’t even realise what opportunities or what was available until we started talking about it. I got help to prep for my interview. Take every opportunity you can, I’m now planning on going down to Number 10!” (YP; Leaving Care Apprentice Personal Adviser)

Emotional and behavioural development: relationships and important people

Having positive and healthy friendships and relationships are important to everyone. Positive relationships help you to build secure attachments, develop self-confidence, self-esteem and self-reliance and contributes to a strong sense of identity and belonging and the feeling of being valued for who you are.

Positive relationships include traits such as:

  • kindness
  • mutual respect
  • trust
  • honesty
  • feeling safe from harm
  • feeling valued
  • support
  • empathy (listening and understanding each other)

The sense of being part of a community helps us to feel like we belong, to feel safe and secure. To support this, we will:

  • listen to who is important to you in your life.
  • Support you to find opportunities to build on your friendships and networks so you are not alone – this might be through opportunities of work experience or education or helping you explore your hobbies and interests.
  • be open and honest if we are worried about people in your life and talk to you about what support you might need to feel safe and in control.
  • Help you connect with family and link with the Red Cross if you have had to leave your home country and separated from your family
  • If you move home, we will work with you to figure out the area and how you can get involved in the community whether it is making new connections and friendships or seeking out new experiences
  • You might even be interested in ‘starting something yourself’. There are many opportunities for volunteering at home or abroad. As well as helping other people, you can gain skills and experience which can promote confidence, build friendships and may prepare you for work.  If you are interested in volunteering or getting involved in mentoring, please speak with your Social Worker or Personal Advisor.

“Step outside of your comfort zone, it can be terrifying at first but it has made such a difference. I have made so many really good friends for trying something new” (YP; Leaving Care Apprentice Personal Adviser)

Identity – celebrating who you are and making sure you have your important documents

Being care experienced is just one part of who you are. We want to support and celebrate your identity and understand what makes you, you. This will include:

  • Listening and respecting your experiences and journey. We won’t make assumptions about your identity and will ask you what you want us to know and what support you need from us.
  • Get to know your faith and practices, and have regard when we are planning time to spend with you, for example, if you are observing Ramadan
  • Celebrate religious festivals and support you to link with faith networks in your area
  • If you are a part of the LGBTQ+ community, you can come and join our Leaving Care Group for informal chat and a coffee – just speak to your Personal Adviser who will link you with the group

We know how important it is to have key documents to make sure life runs as smoothly as possible. This is why we will make sure:

  • when you are 16 we will apply for your National Insurance Number (NI/ NINO). This is needed when you start work to make sure you are paying the right national insurance and tax; everyone who works in the UK needs one. Your National Insurance pays for things like the NHS, your state pension but also goes to support people who may need to apply for Universal Credit (UC). If you need to apply for UC in the future, you will also need to have your NI number.
  • purchase for you your first adult passport. A passport verifies your country of citizenship, it serves as legal photo ID and might be needed if you are applying for jobs, it’s also needed if you want to travel abroad. If you are unable or do not want a passport we will support you to obtain an alternative form of photographic ID.
  • support you to open a Bank Account. The benefits of having a bank account include having a debit card so you don’t have to find a cash machine, receiving money such as wages, bursaries or benefits, paying your bills and keeping track of your money.
  • access to the Participation Forum (Your Voice) whether this is as an active member or simply being informed about matters which might impact you or young people after you. You may wish to influence change and be involved in discussion and debate which takes place via a range of forums such as activities, trips, focused groups.

Money matters

In Bradford, we want our young people to aspire to be financially independent; we also know that this can take time and it can be tough starting out.

If you are 16 and 17 years old and living in semi-independent or independent living, we will help you begin to learn about your increasing financial responsibilities by paying you a weekly Income Maintenance Allowance which is above the Universal Credit payment (£65 a week). We will try to help you financially including: 

  • Making sure you know what you are entitled to (See Finance Guide Table
  • support you to budget your priority payments such as bills, meal planning and household essentials so you can maximise this payment.
  • Whilst aged 16 and 17 years we will pay for your rent costs if you are living in a place which we have agreed.
  • help you understand how you might maximise your income by undertaking further education, apprenticeships or employment and what the potential could look like.
  • support you to access your children’s Independent Savings Account (ISA) set up in your name by the department of education (DfE).
  • help you arrange to open a bank account and learn about the different payment methods that might suit your circumstances.
  • When you are ready to move in to your first independent tenancy we will support you to make sure you have all of the essential items using you Setting Up Home grant and a moving in kit.
  • Between your 18th and 25th birthday we will pay your Council Tax wherever you choose to live in the UK
  • celebrate your birthday with a gift or voucher for as long as you are in touch with the service
  • celebrate important religious festivals, for example Christmas or Eid, with a gift or voucher for as long as you are in touch with the service
  • If you are ready and prepared and have worked out your budget plan; we will assist you with starting your driving journey by funding your starter driving lessons (up to £250) and will pay for your first driving theory test and first driving practical test.
  • If you are involved in participation work and helping us to make positive changes to your Leaving Care service (for example; helping with recruiting our staff) we will pay you for your time and contribution.

“If you need help reach out. There is a way out of debt but you need a plan and everything that felt was building up for so long was not so bad once I had my plan that my PA helped me with.” (YP; Leaving Care Apprentice Personal Adviser)

Where you live

In Bradford, we will encourage you to stay in care until you are 18. Many young people still live at home with their families at this age. Your Social Worker and Personal Advisor will make sure you have the right information and advice at the right time to help you plan and prepare for where you are going to live. This might involve:

  • If you are living with your foster family, you might both want to consider staying put. This arrangement allows you to stay with your carer beyond your 18th birthday and up to your 21st birthday if this is the right thing for you both.
  • If you are living in a residential home, you might want to consider Staying Close. This arrangement allows you to be in reach of your residential home and the people that have supported you, in your own place for as long as you need support, and up until 25 years if this is right for you.
  • If you live in semi-independent accommodation; we will advise you on the range of accommodation and support in your reach and the steps you need to take when you are assessed and ready to apply for Priority Status with Bradford Homes.
  • help you furnish your first home using your Setting Up Home Allowance and how to get the best value out of this.
  • give you practical assistance to decorate your home.
  • provide New Home Kits when you move for the first time into your own place in addition to your Setting Up Home Allowance.
  • Support, advice and guidance in knowing your priority payments.
  • If you are still in education or not yet working when you move to your first place, we will support you to make an early application for Universal Credit (up to 28 days before your 18th birthday) and as long as you do what you need to do we will bridge any delay in your first payment so you do not start adult life in debt.
  • Support if things don’t work out and you find yourself in a crisis or emergency situation, we will work alongside colleagues in Bradford Homes to make sure you have somewhere safe whilst we help you work out a plan.

Top tips

  • Start the conversation early. It doesn’t mean you will be moving on but knowing what the future holds means we can talk through any worries and make sure you have the right support at the right time.
  • Be involved in tailoring your support plan. If you are worried about how to check the meter or how to top up, let’s walk this through until you are confident
  • If you are unsure who you would go to if you lose your keys, let’s make sure that this is included in your plan

Practical and other skills

Before you are ready to leave care, it’s important that you feel equipped with the know how (and who to contact if that doesn’t work out). This happens in lots of different ways at home and in school from learning to manage time, routines at home such as keeping your place tidy, to skills you need for later in life such as navigating social situations, or knowing which is the best electric tariff for your household needs.

Wherever you live, we all have corporate parenting responsibilities to help get you ready. This might be through independent living skills programmes, or just day to day help and support which we can capture in your Pathway Plan.

There are some other ways to help guide you:

  • Groups and activities led by Leaving Care or our partners (such as Supper Club and Smooth it Out)
  • Accredited Independent Living Skill modules with Jumpstart
  • The Stepladder of Achievement Programme, which ‘provides both life skills and financial resources in order to enhance the capability and prospects of children and young people in care, who are likely to have experienced an unpredictable education.’