Identity: Support for young people leaving care
Your experiences, your care journey, and your plans and dreams are all uniquely yours. At Future First, one of our most important goals is to make sure that as you move into your independent adult life, you do it fully understanding your past and feeling really proud of who you are and what you have achieved. You can get support from your PA and Social Worker to help you understand who you are and your journey in care.
How can we help
We can support you with:
- Our Lifelong Links service, who can contact and help you meet with people from your life who are important to you. We can also organise a family meeting at any point that you want one, to help you strengthen your relationships with your family or your support network
- Documents and letters confirming you are a care leaver. We will always provide you with document or letters if you need or ask for them
- Any issues important to your identity such as LGBTQ+, religion, political beliefs, gender or culture
- The cost of 1 ‘Life in the UK Test’ for any young person who needs to take it
- Financial support with immigration and asylum issues
For young people in custody we will visit you regularly and stay in touch with you using things like ‘email my prisoner’ schemes. We can provide you with support services like counselling if you would like it and we have an outreach worker who can help you to cope with the transition when you are released. We will make sure that you can access the financial support we offer like our monthly allowances when you are under 21.
Before you turn 18 your social worker will help you to get important identification documents to do things like apply for housing, apply to college, claim benefits, and open a bank account. To make sure you have everything you need we will support you with obtaining the following:
- Your birth certificate
- Your passport
- A bank account
- A provisional driving licence if you need this for employment, education, or training
If you have not received a form of ID by your 18th birthday you should speak to your social worker. If you are 18+ and do not have these important identification documents, your PA will assist you in getting these.
We will keep copies of these documents and keep these safe for you, however, at certain times you will need the original documents, for example, when you set up a bank account. Once we have given you your documents, it is your responsibility to keep them safe and if you lose them you will have to pay for replacements. If you don’t have a safe place to store your documents speak to your leaving care case worker and we will look after them for you.
We want every young person who is care experienced to feel secure and understand their journey through our care and to understand why they have not been living within their families. Our Social Workers and PAs will support you to spend time understanding what happened and when and their job is help you to feel like you have all the information you want and need, to have the full picture about your life story.
Your social care records
You have a right to see the information we keep about you, including the files and records written about you when you were in care. When you are close to your 18th Birthday, your Social Worker should make sure that you have your folder of key information, including your health records, and the records of your CLA Review meetings from the past.
Why do we keep records about you?
Your social worker needs to keep a record of your health, education, family members, foster placements etc. so that in future they can look back and see what has happened to you and have a record of your time in care. If there is a change of social worker your new social worker can look on your file and find out about you. The social worker also keeps notes of visits with you and of meetings about you. We also collect information about how we work with you so we can see where we need to improve. Access to your records is restricted to a limited number of professionals.
Can I see my file?
Yes, the law says you have a right to see personal information held about you unless we think it would be emotionally harmful to you. If we decide you cannot see your records then your social worker will explain why to you. When you are 18 you will be able to see all of the records kept on you, and your social worker will talk to you about what support you will need to read and understand the papers.
Accessing your records can be a very difficult and emotional experience. We believe that every young person who accesses their records should be offered the right support to make sure that they understand the information and can ask questions. Your Pathway Plan should outline the support that you want and need if you are accessing your records. For more information on accessing your files you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 8831 6328.
We hold client records, in relation to adults, for seven years from the date of the last departmental service. In relation to children and families services records are held between seven years to 75 years depending on the type of services provided.
How can I get to see my file?
You can submit a subject access request to request the files and records we hold on you.
Being Care Experienced is a big part of your identity and we want you to feel positive about your identity! We will invite you to events, groups and activities that allow you to meet with other young people who are Care Experienced. We also encourage you to look at big organisations that bring young people together to celebrate their identity as care leavers.
We support all of our young people to understand and be supported with their gender identity, their sexuality, their cultural identity and their ethnicity. Your PA and your Pathway Plan are there to support you to explore and understand what those things mean for you. We also have some useful information on the additional support you can access as a care leaver.