Moving Towards Independence


  1. Introduction
  2. Preparing for Independence
  3. The Pathway Plan
  4. When a Young Person Reaches 18 - Staying Put

1. Introduction

Developing skills for independence should start at a very early age and build towards the skills and abilities needed for young people to live independently. You will receive training and support to help you provide effective guidance.

2. Preparing for Independence

You should build into the routine a chance to practice skills such as cooking and cleaning. This may start with an easy task such as cake making or preparing food and drink.

It is also useful to include young people in supermarket shopping where you can help them to understand (for example) the difference between the cost of convenience foods and fresh foods.

As the child gets older they should be given responsibility for paying for things from their pocket money or savings such as magazines, activities, toiletries or mobile phone credit.

You should support all children to open a bank or building society account in their own name, and should be helped to do this. Some Children’s Social Care Services have savings schemes and expectations.

Listed below are areas to think about with young people when preparing them for independence:

  • Budgeting, managing money and savings;
  • What food to buy, how to cook it and keep it;
  • How to use a washing machine and ironing;
  • Housework and cleaning;
  • DIY such as putting wardrobes up, putting plugs on and decorating;
  • Thinking about their futures; what do they want to do, employment, further training, and how can they achieve this?
  •  Accessing advice and support from others;
  •  Leisure activities and other interests.

These are some of a range of things young people need to learn how to do and need to be thinking about. It is important that you support the young person to develop their self esteem and resilience in order to survive living independently.

It is tempting to do things for them but remember this will not help them in the long run when they are living on their own.

If you are caring for a child who is 15 years or older, there will be additional services to help you support and prepare them for independence including having a Personal Adviser. Your Supervising Social Worker or the child’s social worker will talk to you about this.

3. The Pathway Plan

Every young person should have a special assessment no later than 3 months after their 16th birthday that identifies their needs as they move towards independence. You will be asked to contribute to this and to help the young person to achieve tasks and gain skills that they will need in adulthood. These tasks and other elements will form a Pathway Plan that in time will replace their Care Plan.

This Pathway Plan will include the educational and employment arrangements support and accommodation plans including financial help.

This doesn’t mean that the young person has to leave your care as being looked after by you might be an important part of their independence especially if the young person (for example) has a disability or if they are planning on moving to University.

The Pathway Plan will cover some of the following key areas:

  • Health;
  • A plan for education, training or employment;
  • Support to develop and keep appropriate family, social and sexual relationships;
  • A programme to develop practical skills to live independently;
  • Budgeting and money management;
  • The young person’s accommodation needs including any adaption’s for a young person with a disability;
  • What is needed to provide the young person with support.

Training and support will be available from the fostering service on developing independence in young people including those with a disability or special need.

4. When a Young Person Reaches 18 - Staying Put

Local Authorities must provide information about the possibility of extending a young person’s living arrangements when they are 18.

If you feel this is an option for you to keep the young person with them, the first Looked After Review following their 16th birthday should consider a Staying Put arrangement. This will mean assessing the implications for both the young person and your family.

Following the young person’s 18th birthday, the legal basis on which they live in the foster home changes (the legal term is that the young person becomes a 'licensee' lodging in the home) – this does not mean that the young person will be treated differently than when they were fostered.

Although Fostering Regulations do not apply to these situations there may be certain checks carried out over time. The Local Authority will need to assess and consider the appropriateness of these checks particularly where the young person is the only person living with you and it is not envisaged that further children will be placed.

Please see Islington’s Staying Put Guide for Foster Carers and the Islington Children's Social Care Procedures Manual, Staying Put Procedure for more information.