Who is a care leaver?

The amount of support you can get when you leave care depends on your age and circumstances.

It is often confusing understanding the terms that councils use to describe care leavers. You may need to know what term applies to you when understanding out how much you can get.


  • Eligible child is a child aged 16 and 17 who has been looked after for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14 and who is still being looked after
  • Relevant child is a child aged 16 and 17 who has been looked after for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14 and who has left care. This also includes young people who were detained (e.g. in a youth offending institution or hospital) when they turned 16, but who were looked after immediately before being detained
  • Former relevant child is a young person over 18 who was previously 'eligible' or 'relevant'. Councils support this group until aged 21, or longer if they are in education or training
  • Qualifying child is any young person under 21 (or 24 if in education or training) who stops being looked after or accommodated in a variety of other settings, or being privately fostered, after the age of 16. This also includes young people who are under a special guardianship order
  • Former relevant child pursuing education is any former relevant child whose case was closed, for any reason. If we're informed that they're planning to continue education or training they can ask the council for support. If eligible, any help would last until their 25th birthday
  • Extension to 25 years old - If you are under 25 year old and previously open to the leaving care team, under the Children and Social Work Act 2017 you are entitled to return for support, contact the leaving care team and ask to speak with the duty officer.

What happens if I return home?

If you leave care and return home to live with your birth family you may no longer be a 'care leaver'. Your status would need to be agreed at a review (either a LAC review or a Pathway Plan review).

A 16 or 17 year old who has lived with a parent (or someone with parental responsibilities) for a continuous period of six months will be closed to the leaving care team - you will become a qualifying young person.

However, we still have a statutory duty to provide the government with statistical information so we will still have to contact you, at least annually.

If the arrangement to return home breaks down before you turn 18, and you stop living with the person concerned, you would become relevant child again.

© Wigan Council