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Care leavers

Young people leaving care are among the most vulnerable children in our society. Even those who have had a stable placement may have very high levels of need. Many children, who have been in the care system, have had a childhood full of instability and trauma. Over 62% of looked after children are being taken into care due to abuse or neglect.

Children in care and care leavers account for less than 1% of the general population (DfE 2013) yet are over-represented in the Criminal Justice System. Care leavers have been estimated to make up 27% of the adult prison population. Young adults in the criminal justice system who are care leavers may need more support to help them through their transition to adulthood than other young adults.

The local picture

The table below provides detail of care leavers in Calderdale.

Calderdale young people leaving care from April 2017 to June 2018

Ages of Calderdale young people leaving care 

April to June 2017

July to Sept 2017

Oct to Dec 2017

Jan to March 2018

April to June 2018

Number of all young people*

225 268 271 284 262
Number of young people leaving care actively accessing support only
Number of young people actively accessing services 176 173 182 189 186
Aged 15.5 to 17 years 72 73 74 74 70
Aged 18 to 20 years 76 72 74 80 84
Aged 21 to 25 years 28 28 34 35 32
Over 25 years   1 2 2 2

*Includes number of young people leaving care actively accessing support and those able to if they wish under the extension of duties in Children and Social Work Act 2017.

A separate JSNA chapter, considers the health and wellbeing of Children who are looked after: Health and wellbeing of children looked after.


Tackling and reducing health inequalities means giving everyone the same opportunities to lead a mentally and physically healthy life, no matter where they live and who they are (Mental Health Foundation, 2018). The Mental Health Foundation Health 2018 Inequalities Manifesto states that:

  • 62% of looked after children and young people in England were in care because of abuse or neglect. This can have a significant and lasting impact on their mental health and emotional well-being.
  • 50% of mental health problems are established by the age of 14 and 75% by the age of 24.
  • 50% of young people were still living with their parents at the age of 22; however, young people have to leave care by their 18th birthday and some move straight into independent living as soon as they leave care.
  • 25% of those who were homeless had been in care at some point in their lives;
  • 49% of young men under the age of 21 who had come into contact with the criminal justice system had a care experience;

From 1st April 2018, Local Authorities have a duty to provide eligible care leavers aged 21 to 25 with a personal adviser. However, further funding provided is for just 20% of eligible care leavers. This (potentially life-changing initiative for young people leaving care) only has enough funding to support one in five of them.

Current provision

Corporate Parenting and Grandparenting

All Calderdale employees have a responsibility to be a corporate parent or grandparent to the children in our care, and the young people who are leaving our care.

"We have the same hopes and aspirations for the children and young people as those of every good parent and grandparent. We take seriously our moral as well as our legal responsibility for enabling children in care and young people leaving our care to experience happy and fulfilling lives."

Robin Tuddenham, Chief Executive. For the full statement from which this extract is taken, see: 

Calderdale Pathway leaving care service

The Pathway Leaving Care service in Calderdale is an externally commissioned service, currently provided by Prospects.  It provides statutory services for our young people leaving care, as follows:

Eligible - those people still in care aged 16 and 17 years old, who have been looked after for at least 13 weeks from the age of 14;

Relevant - young people aged 16 and 17 years old, who have already left care and who have been looked after for at least 13 weeks from the age of 14, and have been looked after for some time while aged 16 or 17;

Former relevant - young people aged 18 to 21 years, who have been eligible and / or relevant children in care.

The number of our young people receiving support from the service has increased under the extension of offer in The Children’s and Social Work Act 2017, with the most recent figures outlined below:

Number of care leavers as at June 2018

Eligible Young People


Relevant Young People


Former Relevant Young People




Calderdale Pathway Team works with young people from Calderdale who are looked after and aged from 15 ½ years to their 18th birthday, or who have left care and are up to the age of 25 years. The service provides a wide range of services, information and support and works with young people to help make the right choices and decisions through the transition to adulthood and independent living.

The Pathway Advisors work with the young person to look at their needs, support development and writing of each a pathway plan that covers accommodation, budgeting, health and education, training, employment and social inclusion. The quality of services and support to young people remains very good and Pathway Plans and Safety Plans are robust and effective. Plans continue to be the subject of development and improvement.

The service continues to achieve high numbers of young people who remain in Education, Employment or Training (EET) and in Safe and Suitable Accommodation. This reflects the quality of support and Pathway Planning work undertaken with young people leaving care and the services that support them.

The service operates within the Children and Young People’s strategic framework and the vision for children and young people in Calderdale to improve life opportunities for children and young people.

Our Vision is that all children in Calderdale are healthy, happy, safe and successful.

Our Strategic Priorities:

  • Start healthy and stay healthy;
  • Are safe at home, in school and in the community;
  • Enjoy learning and achieve their best;
  • Develop social skills and take part in activities;
  • Have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives;
  • Stay in education and get a job.

See the latest 



The vast majority of young people who are Looked After have their annual health assessments, dental checks and opticians appointments completed within timescales. 

The top five identified health needs for Calderdale care leavers are:

  1. Mental / emotional health and wellbeing issues;
  2. Substance misuse;
  3. Teenage pregnancy;
  4. Sexual health;
  5. Dental.

Health passports

The Named Nurse for children looked after (CLA) has delivered health passports support to our young people. As of 31st March 2018 a total of:

  • 103 young people were offered health passports;
  • 46 have been completed,
  • 19 young people declined;
  • and to date 42 gave no response.

Feedback from young people who have received their health passport has been very positive. As of July 2018 all young people leaving care will be offered a health passport routinely as part of the last statutory review health assessment.


Currently 23 young people aged 17-25 who are in touch with the Pathway Service and who are parents.  A total of 14 young parents have been supported by the Positive Choices programme.

Working in partnership with the Contraception and Sexual Health (CASH) services based in Calderdale has resulted in the development of a ‘fast track’ access service for care leavers to receive advice and support around contraception and sexual health.

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC)

Calderdale has received 27 UASCs since October 2015 and has developed a successful service for these young people. This group of young people have either arrived via the National Transfer Scheme or have been spontaneous arrivals in Calderdale.

These are children under the age of 18 years who are seeking asylum, but not living with their parents, relatives or guardians in the UK. Local authorities have a duty of care to ensure that the welfare of unaccompanied asylum seeking children is met.


UASC additional support element

From July 2016 Calderdale Council Care Leaver Service have had a Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registered child care social workers with experience of working with UASC and additional business support to assist with Home Office requirements for each UASC.

UASC Accommodation

The service has switched from use of Supported Lodgings for UASC young people aged 16+ and have instead developed a strong partnership with Impact Living Housing association in Bradford who now provide supported tenancies for Calderdale UASCs aged over 16. 


Almost all (99%) of young people leaving care in Calderdale live in safe, suitable accommodation that meets their needs. Calderdale is part of the White Rose framework of accommodation providers for vulnerable young people. This means that all providers used locally meet agreed quality standards and are monitored against outcomes for young people. Only two young people were assessed to be in unsuitable accommodation in using the DfE 903 criteria, due to being in custody. Calderdale consistently perform significantly above the national average and our statistical neighbours on this indicator. For example, as 31st March 2018, 99% of care leavers aged 19, 20 and 21 years in Calderdale were in suitable accommodation, compared to 81.1% in Yorkshire and Humber and 77.8% in England.

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 will impact though the extension offer of support to all Care Leavers from 21 to 25. This may impact on the potential duration of Staying Put Arrangements and consequently cost. Work is being undertaken between the Pathway Service and commissioning to prepare a briefing paper for senior CSC managers regarding this and other impacts on the Pathway Service and Local Authority.

Education and Employment

Virtual School

The Virtual School provides statutory outreach support to children who are looked after in mainstream schools and alternative settings as a core service. The Virtual School is committed to improving educational attainment, and narrowing the gap between Calderdale children looked after and their peers.

Careers Advice, Training and Employment

All young people entitled to a Leaving Care Service must have a Pathway Plan that sets out their needs in respect of education, employment and training. It should identify what support they require, and from whom, in order to support them into and maintain employment, education or training.

Calderdale careers service (C&K Careers) provides information, advice and guidance on an individual basis to young people aged 16 to 19 years, in order to facilitate the young person's movement into a positive learning or employment outcome. A formal agreement is in place with the Pathways service to ensure care leavers have the same opportunities as their peers. Through effective joint working, by sharing information and helping to problem solve, this formal agreement and partnership avoids operational issues which may arise between different services. A more targeted service is available for more vulnerable young people or those with additional educational needs which also includes support for care leavers to the age of 25.

In June 2018

  • 145 young people leaving care were in Education Employment and Training (EET);
  • 20 were enrolled in Higher Education (of whom 19 were at University)
  • 90 were enrolled in Further Education including school,
  • 20 were in employment
  • 8 are in Apprenticeships (of whom 2 are in Calderdale Council Care Leaver Apprenticeships.

Successes include three young people recently completing apprenticeships, and the fact that 19.5% of care leavers in Calderdale aged over 18 are attending University, compared to a national average of 6%.

Young people Not Education Employment and Training (NEET)

Age Total Other information

15 to 17 years


3 are either Parents or Pregnant

18 to 20 years


9 are either Parents or Pregnant and 11 are in receipt of ESA

21 to 24 years


4 are either Parents or Pregnant and 5 are in receipt of ESA

25 years and over




A total of 11 young people are in a position to engage.


Calderdale has a Police Intensive Offender Management Multi Agency meeting where young people offending or at risk of offending are discussed and strategies are developed to reduce offending risk. This enables the voice and needs of young people and care leavers to be expressed. It also ensures the team are aware of issues, and can make sure that Pathway Plans support interventions of other agencies in respect of care leavers. This provides an opportunity to provide contextual information regarding young people to contribute to the overall assessment of risk.

Reducing Criminalisation

Youth Justice Board statistics indicate that each year, a disproportionate number of children looked after come into contact with the criminal justice system and the secure estate. Reducing offending amongst children looked after is the joint responsibility of the Police, Children’s Services and the Youth Offending Team in order to maximise the role of corporate parenting and achieve best life chances for this vulnerable group of young people. The procedure is to ensure effective inter-agency planning and the active involvement of all relevant agencies/services. Where areas of concern are raised in relation to behaviours which could result in entry in to the criminal justice system the following procedures will be followed in all instances.

Calderdale’s Local Offer

Section 2 of the Children and Social Work Act 2017 requires local authorities to consult on and publish a Local Offer for its care leavers. The Local Offer should provide information about all the services and support that is available to care leavers from the local authority including information about both their statutory entitlements as well as any discretionary support that a local authority chooses to provide.

Calderdale’s Local Offer is available online and in print. Children Looked After and those leaving care were involved in supporting the design and development of the Local offer. This work is ongoing and Calderdale have dedicated a specific Local Offer Support Officer to ensure the information is updated, good quality and easy to understand.

User views

Upwards n Onwards (UnO) - Care leavers council

UnO are a specific participation group that works to represent children and young people accessing the leaving care service. Using their own voice and representing others they undertake influence work, this year it has included;

  • Development and design of the Local Offer for your people leaving care.
  • Representation at the Regional young people leaving care Council meetings and events to share their opinions nationally and influence areas of focus for Care Leavers Councils for example mental health support.
  • Joint work with Right2Voice (children looked after) on projects, for example ITV Fixers to develop an animation developed by young people to shown on television.

The UnO group meets once every two weeks on a Wednesday evening and also attend the Corporate Parenting Panel to represent young people leaving care. They can be contacted at

Engaging and supporting older care leavers

This area has been identified as a key theme in the feedback from a Calderdale Care leaver’s survey. Older care leavers have consistently said that they experience feelings of loneliness and social isolation. However, the New Belongings project gives the opportunity to develop support mechanisms to address this, and work is underway.

Care leavers pledge

This pledge is a commitment made by Calderdale Council to young people who have been looked after by the Council, who are aged 15 1/2 years old and above, and who are supported by the Pathways service.

Corporate parenting panel

The Panel ensures the Council and its partners are an effective Corporate parent and fulfil its corporate parenting responsibilities to children looked after and care leavers. Its aim is to make a positive contribution to the lives of children looked after and care leavers through a coordinated approach to the development and improvement of services to achieve better outcomes.

Unmet need

Rising demand for support nationally

In 2017 the numbers of looked after children in England continued to increase. After small rises of 1% each year between 2014 and 2016, the rise this year has been greater at 3%. At 31 March 2017 there were 72,670 looked after children in England, an increase of 2,220 on 2016, and an increase of 4,600 on 2013.  At 31 March 2017, 62 children per 10,000 of the population were looked after, up from 60 children per 10,000 in the previous four years.

After a large rise in numbers in 2016, the number of looked after children who were unaccompanied asylum-seeking children continued to increase in 2017. The number of looked after children at 31 March 2017 who were unaccompanied asylum-seeking children increased by 6% compared to last year, up to 4,560 from 4,300 in 2016, and up 134% from 1,950 in 2013.

Local Authorities continue to be in touch with more care leavers. For 19-21 year olds, 23,780 (88%) were in touch in 2017, up from 87% in 2016 and 86 % in 2015 however the rate does vary with age. In 2017, 92% of 19 year olds were in touch, 88% of 20 year olds and 84% of 21 year olds.

Monitoring care leavers over time

There is no reliable information to monitor the lives of care leavers over time. There are no official statistics on some aspects of care leavers’ lives, such as whether they have timely access to health services, whether they feel they left care at the right time, or the extent to which they have poor social outcomes such as unemployment, homelessness, mental illness or criminal activity. The Department for Education does not collect data on care leavers after the age of 21 years on their participation in employment, education and training, or where they live and whether this is suitable accommodation.

Therapeutic services

There is a need for therapeutic service response for current and past victims of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) to ensure their emotional needs are being responded to. This is an overarching problem for current and past victims of CSE, not just care leavers (Department for Education, 2015).

Projected future need

Increase in Care Leavers

A projection exercise (June 2018), indicated that the number of young people leaving care will rise to its highest point in November 2020. This projection is limited, in that it figures cannot account for young people entering care after the data was collected, or the number of UASC entering the system.

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child (UASC)

Since October 2015, Calderdale has had 27 UASCs and developed a successful service for these young people. The figure is set to rise but is almost impossible to predict for the unexpected children. Calderdale has a noted ‘drop off’ point at Hartshead Moor Services, Clifton, Brighouse, West Yorkshire. All the unexpected UASC children to date have been left at this location. The Council and the service will continue the close working with Migration Yorkshire and the Reginal UASCS Group to continue to provide support in a planned approach. The service work robustly directly with the Child Assessment Team to act as the “front door” for UASCs arriving in Calderdale and considerable expertise in this complex area of work. All Pathway Social Workers are Age Assessment trained and have received no challenges to the three completed age assessments year. Calderdale is unique amongst Local Authorities in that no UASCs have been missing.

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Victims

Those care leavers that are victims of CSE may need longer term support and access to therapeutic services specialised for traumatised young people.

Key considerations linked to the known evidence base (what works?)

Significant changes in legislation as set out in the Children and Social work Act 2017 include:

  • Standards for how local authorities should act as a ‘corporate parent’ to support children in care and as they move into adult life;
  • A requirement on local authorities to consult on and publish a ‘local offer’ to care leavers, setting out the services they are entitled to;
  • An extension to the right to a Personal adviser to all who want one up to the age of 25, someone who will make sure care leavers receive the support they need as they transition into adulthood.

The new care leavers strategy ‘Keep on caring - Supporting young people from care to independence’, July 2016, sets out a vision for the further reform of support for care leavers based on innovation, system reform, and the embedding of corporate parenting responsibility across society.

The five key outcomes are:

  1. All young people leaving care should be better prepared and supported to live independently;
  2. Improved access to education, employment and training;
  3. Care leavers should experience stability in their lives, and feel safe and secure;
  4. Improved access to health support;
  5. To promote through the strategy that care leavers should achieve financial stability.

The UASC National dispersal scheme from Kent and Calais is expecting to support approximately an additional 20 children and young people.

The implementation of the Children and Social Work Act 2017 and the Keep on Caring agenda. The Children and Social Work Act introduces a change to the upper age at which Care Leavers are eligible for a service. At present only young people engaged in education can receive a service post 21. The new legislation allows all Care Leavers up to the age of 25 to receive a service.

References and further information

For more about children and young people, see: Further resources.

For more about care leavers:


  • Commissioning Project Coordinator, Children and Young Peoples services, Calderdale Council.
  • Named Nurse Calderdale and Huddersfield foundation trust (CHFT).
  • Team manager, Pathways leaving care service.
  • Edited by Naomi Marquis, Health Improvement Specialist, Public Health (August 2018).

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