Making plans for your future...

If you are over 16 you should have a Pathway Plan.

The Pathway Plan should have been started before your 16th birthday. You should have helped to put it together and agree with it. The Pathway Plan should make clear the help you will be getting in preparing to leave care and what support you will receive after you have left.

What is a Pathway Plan?

A Pathway Plan is a document used to enable you and your Social Worker to look at all areas of your life and put plans in place for your future. It is a chance for you to say what you want and how things are going.

This is very important to you, as your Pathway Plan says exactly what help you should be getting before, during and after you leave care. Once agreed, it should to be kept to by all those who have signed it.

It should include short term and long term goals and how you will helped to achieve them. It should also include a 'Plan B' in case things don't work out.

When the time comes for you to leave care, you should be able to look after yourself and stay safe, keep yourself healthy, continue with your learning, enjoy and achieve things in life, stay in touch with family and friends, and be confident about who you are.

Your Pathway Plan should be reviewed a minimum once every 6 months and replaces the Care Plan you would have had before.

What should the Pathway Plan include?

If you are still in care your Pathway Plan will be looked at at your review by the Independent Reviewing Officer and cover these issues:

Your health

Being healthy helps you to succeed and achieve in other parts of your life, and it is important that the people looking after you support you to attend any check ups or appointments you might have. We will make sure you get help to register with a GP and get the professional help you need.

Your education, training or employment

Being settled at school or college and doing well will help you to have a successful and happy future. Sometimes young people end up missing school as they move between placements, so the review meeting lets all the people involved in looking after you know if they need to do more to support your education.

We work with Prospects to help young people get the learning and training experiences they need, including support in further and higher education. We also work with education and training providers to improve the opportunities available to young people.

Your accommodation

This should include the preparation to help you move on where you are living and going to live and the support you will receive. We will work with you to help find suitable accommodation that is right for you.

Your money

We help young people learn to budget whilst ensuring they are claiming the benefits and allowances they are entitled to, and when necessary we can provide financial support. When young people set up home we offer financial help. Instead of giving a fixed amount we assess each young person's needs individually, taking into account their circumstances.

The contact you have with members of your family

You have a right to keep in contact with your family and other people who are important to you unless this would put you at risk. You have the chance to talk about how you feel about whether you have contact with members of your family, where, and how often. We will encourage you to keep in touch with those you value. Previous foster carers, family and friends can all help a young person to feel supported, and it is vital that they feel connected to their community and culture.

Your culture, identity and religion

Where you come from will be important to you and if you have a religion we need to help make sure you can follow this whether it is the same or different to that of the people who you live with. The review will look at making sure you know about your origins.

Your 'legal status'

This is about whether you came into care because a court made a 'care order' or whether you are in care 'voluntarily' – this is called 'being accommodated'. If you are an unaccompanied asylum seeker this might include whether you have refugee status or not.

What do you like doing?

You can talk about your hobbies and interests, what you enjoy about life and things you don't. You can also talk about anything you are worried about. Being involved in activities helps young people to grow their self-esteem and confidence for when they need to make the move to living on their own.

How you are prepared for what happens in the future

Whether you are going from care back to your family or you are getting ready to live more independently, the law says that your review has to discuss these plans, including how you will be supported.

Any special circumstances

It is your Pathway Plan and if you have any special circumstances these should be included in your plan, for example if you have a disability, or you are a young parent or unaccompanied asylum seeker. The Pathway Plan should show how you are going to be helped.

Once you have left care

Once you have left care or are over 18 then your Pathway Plan should still be reviewed a minimum of once every 6 months. This will normally be done with your Social Worker.