If you are a care leaver and at risk of homelessness, you may be able to get housing and other help from ourselves and other agencies, depending upon your age and circumstances.
Housing help for 16 and 17-year olds
If you are 16-17 years old and at risk of homelessness, you will be able to get advice and support, including somewhere to live, from Hertfordshire Council's Children's Services. Many services are run by hyh - (Herts Young Homeless).
Housing help for care leavers
You are entitled to housing help and assistance from us if all of the following apply:
- you have already left care and
- you have spent a total of at least 13 weeks in care since the age of 14 and
- part of that time in care was while you were 16 or 17
It doesn't matter if your 13 weeks in care was continuous. If you have spent less than a total of 13 weeks in care, or you want to leave care before your 16th birthday then your rights are different.
Help and advice for homeless care leavers
Get advice if you become homeless. An adviser can help you to:
- check whether homelessness prevention and advice service/children's service should help you
- tell you what sort of accommodation and support children's services normally provide in Dacorum - this will give you an idea of what you can expect
- make sure you are claiming all the benefits you are entitled to
- tell you what longer term housing options are available in your area and give you an idea of how much it might cost
- put you in contact with specialist support organisations or local schemes that can help you raise a deposit or find a suitable place to live.
Use Shelter's directory to find an adviser in your local area, or call Shelter's helpline on 0808 800 4444. For more
information about homelessness, visit our homelessness or at risk of homelessness page.
You can get free, confidential, independent advice from Shelter and Citizens Advice.
Financial support for 16 or 17-year olds
Most 16 or 17-year olds are not eligible for benefits. Children's Services and Herts Young Homeless must help you by:
- providing housing or helping you find and keep your own place
- supporting you financially by paying you enough for your rent, food, bills, travel costs for education and training, clothing, pocket money and childcare if you need it
- giving you any other support you need, such as help with continuing your education, finding work or dealing with personal problems.
If you are a 16 or 17-year old, you can usually only claim benefits if you are also a single parent or unable to work because of a disability or illness.
Turn2us is a national charity helping people when times get tough. It provides financial support to help people get back on track. Its website includes a benefits
calculator and advice about applying for small grants.
Housing help for care leavers
If you still have care leaver status, you can get help from both Hertfordshire County Council's Children's Services and the Homelessness Prevention and Advice Service. You are automatically classed as being in 'priority need' whilst the following apply:
- Until your 21st birthday, which means that the Homelessness Prevention and Advice Service should help you find a place to live
- If you are aged 18 to 21 and spent at least one night in care when you were 16 or 17, you are automatically classed as being in priority need until your 21st birthday.
Children and Young People's Services can also help you by providing support and help with training and education. If you are in full-time further or higher education, Children's Services must find you somewhere to live during holiday periods if you need
Benefits for care leavers over 18
When you turn 18, you are entitled to claim benefits. You should be able to claim Universal Credit if you need to.
Housing help for care leavers aged 21 years old and over
Some older care leavers can get accommodation through the Homelessness Prevention and Advice Service if they are in priority need. For example, this may apply to you if:
- you are vulnerable as a result of having been in care
- you haven't had a stable home since you left care
- you have slept on the streets in the past
Other support for care leavers aged 18 to 24
As a care leaver, you should continue to receive help and advice from Children's Services until your 21st birthday (or 25th if you are still in education or training). Children's Services can help you by providing assistance with education and training
until your 25th birthday.
Your personal adviser should still keep in touch and should go over your pathway plan with you to see how you are getting on (there is more information about personal advisers further down).
Adult Services and/or Children and Young People Services can help you if you need support to continue with your education or find training or employment. It may be able to help with the cost of living near your college, training centre or workplace.
Help for all care leavers
The council that last looked after you remains responsible for you even if you move to a different area. It must continue to give you any heIp you need, even if you move to another area. You can contact us on 01442 228000. Call Shelter's helpline on 0808
800 4444 if you need emergency housing or support.
Before you leave care, you're given a pathway plan setting out what support you might need to live independently. Find out more from the Government about pathway plans. You're given a personal adviser whose job it is to make sure that you claim everything
you are entitled to.
It can help you with application forms for housing, benefits, and education and/or training courses. It should also help you with learning life skills, like how to budget. Your personal adviser should stay in contact with you and provide ongoing support
and help until you turn 21 (or until your 25th birthday if you are still studying full time). Get advice if you don't have a personal adviser. You may be able to get one even if you didn't have one while you were still in care.
You can find more information about the kind of help you're entitled to on the Government website.
Suitable accommodation for young care leavers
Any accommodation that Hertfordshire County Council provides should be suitable for you. You may get a place in a hostel or a self-contained flat. It is possible (though unlikely) that in some cases you could be offered a place in a children's home or
foster care. Ask your personal adviser to help you if you have problems with your accommodation. Get advice immediately if you're placed in bed and breakfast accommodation or any other unsuitable accommodation.
Use Shelter's directory to find your local Shelter advice centre.
Single room rate
Usually if you are aged under 35 and you rent from a private landlord, the maximum Universal Credit amount you can get is the same rate you would get for renting a single room in a shared house. However, if you've been in care, this doesn't apply until
you turn 22. You should be entitled to Universal Credit even if you have only spent one night in care. There is a maximum amount that you can be paid, which depends on the area you live in.
Help for moving into a new place
If you are a care leaver moving to a new place, you may be entitled to a budgeting loan to help pay for any rent in advance, your moving expenses or essential household items. Most people who have been on income support or jobseekers' allowance for at
least 26 weeks can apply. These loans are paid back through deductions from your benefits.
Managing your money
Sit down and make a list of all your income and all your outgoings and any debts you may have. Take a look at our Money Advice page.