Complicated words can make it harder to understand what is going on. It can sometimes even make it difficult to want to fully understand. Unfortunately, we are not always giving very clear explanations – it doesn’t help that language can change a lot between different local authorities. Even though it can feel very complicated, it is really good to learn about your rights, so that you can make the best decisions for yourself.
There are three terms that are quite similar: continuing care, throughcare and aftercare. Continuing care is for after you have left care and is explained in this guide. Throughcare and aftercare are the support you receive before and after you leave care. We are using the wording ‘leave care’ as a legal description, but The Promise have rightly said that care is something you should have all your life. Support,care and love does not abruptly end with leaving care.
Throughcare describes the support that you should receive before you leave care to prepare you for independent living. You should have a pathways plan that clearly lays out how the future looks for you. You have the right to a wellbeing assessment before you leave care. Most importantly, you have the right to be involved in any decision.
Anyone who was looked after on or after their 16th birthday can access Aftercare services. Aftercare is for everyone, including if you have been looked after at home. Aftercare means getting ‘advice, guidance and assistance’. You should expect this guidance and support from your council until your 19th birthday. You have the right to request that the Aftercare support continues up to your 26th birthday if you need it. If you were receiving Aftercare support and it ended and you think that you need it again, you also have the right to request it up until your 26th birthday. Your council may even continue to provide support when you are over 26 if they think you need it, although they do not legally have to.
You have the right to be supported to live more independently and to build positive meaningful relationships. You should always be housed appropriately. You should not be put in an unsuitable hostel or bed and breakfast accommodation. You should not have to become homeless to access accommodation. You have the right to complain if you are unhappy with the support you receive, or any decision made.
If you would like some support from your local authority, remember that it is your right to get that support. It can be hard to reach out, but it will be worth it, as it will make your life easier. There is no shame in asking for support. You can read more about in our guide ‘Who to turn to’ [link to guide].
Think about your current needs and your wished for your future. Reflecting on that can help you become more involved in the planning. As you grow older, you are allowed to make decisions for yourself. It can be very useful to understand what emotions are driving your decisions: sometimes we do things out of spite, others out of curiosity or happiness. Make sure you are making decisions for the right reasons – meaning that you are truly considering what is best for you.
Staf (Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum) is Scotland’s national membership organisation for all of those involved in the lives of young people leaving care. You can find out more or contact Staf here - email@example.com / www.staf.scot