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Care Leavers and Benefits - Who is a Care Leaver?

Read our guide to benefits for care leavers

Who is a Care Leaver?

There are special rules about being able to get benefits when you are aged 16 or 17 and you are a ‘care leaver’.

You are considered to be a care leaver if:

  • You have been looked after by a local authority for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14 and you left care on or after your 16th birthday. The 13 weeks do not have to be all in one go (but short-term, pre-planned placements in care may not count towards the 13 weeks); or
  • You were in hospital, a remand centre or a young offenders (or similar) institution when you became 16 and immediately before then you had been looked after by a local authority for at least 13 weeks since your 14th birthday.

Stopping being a care leaver

If you have lived for six months without a break with:

  • Your parent, or
  • Someone who has parental responsibility for you, or
  • Someone who has a residence order for you, if that order was in place immediately before a care order was made for you.

And this six month period was after the age of 16, you will not be treated as a care leaver anymore. This means the normal rules for your age group will apply to you. Use our Your Situation section to find the information that applies to you.

Reviewed: December 2021

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