Four teenage boys wearing tshirts and shorts sit in a row of blue plastic chairs with white desks connected to them. They are leaning on the desks and one of the boys is writing. There is a woman at a white board at the front of the room writing.
A Greek language course at a shelter for unaccompanied children in Athens.

Planning for leaving care (Part 3)

Here are some more topics for us to consider with an unaccompanied and separated child or young person who is leaving care - especially if helping them develop a Pathway Plan:

5. A place to live

Access to safe, stable, and sustainable accommodation is a key factor in helping young people move on from care. Particularly considering some of the experiences an unaccompanied and separated child might have been through, they need to feel secure and at ease with where they will now live. Having safe, settled accommodation is also a critical factor in supporting a young person achieve in other parts of their life, like employment or education. Some of the Actions to be taken in preparation for leaving care and support after care might include:

A place to live: This graphic is a list of points. 1 Making sure the young person has appropriate accommodation. They should be able to participate in the selection of their accommodation - where it is, who they live with, if they have a room of their own, etc. 2 Making sure the young person can move into accommodation that is safe and makes them feel secure. 3 Checking if the location of their accommodation is suitable. Does it allow a young person to attend their place of education or work? Is it in a location where they can remain in touch with their friends, support workers and any community they may already be connected to? 4 Checking if the young person can afford to pay the rent and other bills. Making sure they know how and where to do practical things like pay the rent and bills, etc. Helping the young person with employment application forms

6. Practical skills

Children and young people who have spent a considerable time on the move, and then in care, may not have carried out some of the everyday practical tasks they will need to do when they start to live independently. These tasks include shopping, cooking, cleaning etc. We should try and make sure that care leavers have opportunities to develop these skills while they are in a supportive environment. Actions to be taken in preparation for leaving care and support after care might include:

Practical skills: This graphic is a list of points. Helping care leavers practice household skills whilst still in care such as: 1 Washing clothes 2 Shopping 3 Cooking 4 Cleaning

7. Money

Poverty, economic disadvantage, and financial hardship are significant factors for many care leavers. Some of the concerns we have already mentioned such as not speaking the local language, discrimination, and cultural assimilation might also be barriers in finding employment or having a legal right to social security payments. It is also important to understand if the unaccompanied and separated child is still dependent on receiving money from their family back home, or if they are expected to send money to their families. Actions to be taken in preparation for leaving care and support after care might include:

Practical skills: This graphic is a list of points. Helping care leavers practice household skills whilst still in care such as: 1 Washing clothes 2 Shopping 3 Cooking 4 Cleaning

As we have mentioned in the previous course steps, leaving care - especially as a result of reaching the age of adulthood – could affect the care leavers’ legal status including the right to remain in a particular country. It might also mean that any legal process that started while they were in a child in care might now stop. The care leaver might still not have identity documents or other necessary paperwork that entitles them to work and live in the country, for example. It is important that the care leaver is fully aware of any changes, and access to legal support is ongoing. It is also important to take into consideration the considerable stress and anxiety this might cause. Actions to be taken in preparation for leaving care and support after care might include:

Rights and legal matters: This graphic is a list of points. 1 Making sure any legal concerns including status determination is being processed and the young person has access to legal representation and support. 2 Making sure the young person has a copy of any important documents they might already have, such as birth certificate, identification and registration documents. Make sure they have ongoing support to apply for these documents if they do not already have them. 3 Making sure the young person is fully aware of their legal status and legal rights. 4 Ensuring the young person is registered with relevant authorities to access health care, welfare support, etc

We hope the topics we have considered over the last three course steps have provided you with a few ideas about what needs to be discussed and considered with a care leaver when preparing their Pathway Plan.

Again, we realise the degree to which these topics can be considered when an unaccompanied or separated child leaves a care setting will depend on the particular circumstances, location, and resources. But we hope that, whenever possible, the preparation and support that will particularly help safeguard the child as they move on will be considered with utmost importance.

Please also remember how important it is to complete Pathway Plans after carefully assessing needs, hopes, and aspirations in full participation with the care leaver.

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This article is from the free online course:

Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children

University of Strathclyde