Young People's Zone
CAN I LIVE INDEPENDENTLY?
Living independently is a big decision and there are lots of things that need to be checked before this can happen.
One of the things your Pathway Plan (see Pathway to Success, Become) will cover is whether you are ready to live on your own. If you are ready, your Pathway Plan should include all the things you and your social worker/PA need to do to make this happen. If you are not ready yet, your Pathway Plan should include all the things you and your social worker/ PA need to do to help you get ready to live independently.
If Children’s Services agree that you are ready to live independently, they must also hold a LAC Review before you can move out of your foster placement or children’s home (the part of the law that says this is Section 22D Children Act 1989).
The law says that Children’s Services must find you “suitable accommodation”. This means checking things like:
- Whether new accommodation is safe for you - Does it have everything you need? Is it well looked after?
- Where the accommodation is - Is it safe? Can you get to school/college/work easily? Does it meet any special health needs you have?
- Whether it is affordable - Will you be able to afford all the bills and other things you have to pay for when you live on your own?
- Who the landlord is – Are they trustworthy? Are they OK to provide accommodation to a care leaver?
- Is it somewhere that you would like to live? – Your views are really important. You might not get everything you want in the first place you live but you have to be happy to live there.
(the part of the law that says this is Regulation 27 (a) and Schedule 6, Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010)
There are lots of different types of accommodation that you could be moved into. These include:
- Supported lodgings – this means living in someone’s home (this may be with a family, couple or single person) where you have your own room but share the kitchen and bathroom facilities.
- Foyers and other supported housing – this can be a house for 5 or more young people or a larger hostel for up to 100 people. You would have your own room but shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. There are staff on site to support you.
- Trainer flats – this is where you live in your own flat but without holding the tenancy so you can ‘practice’ living on your own.
Government guidance says that bed and breakfast accommodation is not suitable for care leavers and you must not be placed there (the part of the law that says this is Paragraph 7.12 The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations Volume 3: planning transition to adulthood for care leavers 2015). They can place you in bed and breakfast if it’s the only option in a real emergency but you shouldn’t be there for more than two working days while Children’s Services find you something better.
If they agree and can find a suitable place for you to live, they should arrange for you to visit and see the property before you move in (the part of the law that says this is Regulation 27(b), Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010). Once you move in you will continue to be supported. There is loads more information about the support that you can expect on this website.
What can I do?
Moving to live independently is a really big step. Your social worker or PA will need to assess whether you are ready so it is important that you think about this before suggesting it. Ask yourself:
- Would I feel safe on my own? Would I be lonely or worried without my carers there?
- Do I know how to cook, clean and wash my clothes?
- How well do I manage my money? Do I know how to budget my money so I don’t spend it all at once?
If the answer to any these questions is “no”, then maybe you are not ready just yet. If so, think about what you need to learn or what needs to change so that you will be ready to live on your own and then speak to your social worker or PA so they can help you learn and be prepared and put this into your Pathway Plan.
If you do feel ready, it would be good to think about where you would like to live. Ask yourself:
- Do I want to live with other people? You will probably be placed in a place with other young people; do you feel OK about this?
- Do I need to have people around who can help me with some stuff? Some independent placements have support workers to do this so it is good to know what level of support you think you might need.
- Where do I need to live to be able to travel to school/college/work or to see my family and friends?
Talk to People
Once you are sure that you are ready to live independently, you need to talk to:
- Your carers: They probably know you quite well and they will be the ones helping you to get ready to live independently. Your social worker will also speak to them as part of checking if you are ready so it’s a good idea to chat to them about it first.
- Your social worker (and PA if you have one): Explain what you would like and ask about getting an assessment and Pathway Plan so things can get started.
- Your Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) (see The Name Game, Become): There will need to be a LAC Review before you can live independently and your IRO should speak to you on your own before the meeting. Make sure that you tell them what you would like so that this can be discussed in the meeting.
Making a Complaint
Hopefully everything will go well and you won’t need to think about making a complaint. Things may not happen immediately because it is important that everything is right before you live on your own but if you feel that your social worker isn’t listening or things are going too slowly, then you have the right to make a complaint. We can help you make a complaint – just click here for more information.
Get Some Help
If you still feel that no-one is listening, you can contact your local advocacy service or call the Children’s Commissioner and ask for help. You can find your local advocacy service by clicking here.