Personal Advisers


The statutory definition and requirements to undertake a needs assessment, prepare a Pathway Plan, keep the Pathway Plan under review and appoint a Personal Adviser are now covered by Regulations 42, 43 and 44 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 and updated by the Children and Social Work Act 2017.


This chapter was reviewed and amended in December 2023 in line with local practice.

1. Definitions

1. Eligible Young People

Young people are eligible when they are aged 16 or 17 and they have been Looked After for a period or periods totalling at least 13 weeks starting after their 14th birthday they are still Looked After (This total does not include a series of pre-planned short-term placements of up to four weeks where the child has returned to the parent or for a disabled child where care was for respite purposes only). There is a duty to support these young people up to the age of 18, wherever they are living. Where a 16 or 17 year old who has been subject to Section 20 accommodation leaves a care placement such as foster care or residential care to live independently, the Independent Reviewing Officer may decide that the young person should remain as looked after. In these circumstances, the young person is not discharges from care and remains subject to the looked after processes such as statutory visits and Children looked after case reviews. The IRO will review the young person's Pathway Plan rather than a Care Plan.

2. Relevant Young People

Relevant Young People are aged 16 or 17 and are no longer Looked After, having previously been in the category of Eligible Young Person when Looked After. However, if after leaving the Looked After service, a young person returns Home for a period of 6 months or more to be cared for by a person with Parental Responsibility for them and the return Home has been formally agreed as successful, he or she will no longer be a "Relevant Young Person". A young person is also "Relevant" if, having been looked after for three months or more, he or she is then detained after their 16th birthday either in hospital, remand centre, young offenders' institution or secure training centre. There is a duty to support relevant young people up to the age of 18, wherever they are living.

The statutory definition and requirements to keep in touch with the young person, undertake a needs assessment (unless this was done when the young person was 'Eligible'), prepare and keep the Pathway Plan under review, appoint a Personal Adviser (unless this was done when the young person was 'Eligible') and provide accommodation and assistance to meet his or her needs in relation to education, training or employment are now covered by Regulations 4 to 9 of the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010 (as amended by the Children and Social Work Act 2017).

3. Former Relevant Young People

Former Relevant Young People are aged 18 to 25, and have left the Looked After service having been previously either "eligible", "relevant" or both. There is a duty to consider the need to support these young people wherever they are living.

The statutory definition and requirements to stay in touch with the young person, keep the Pathway Plan under review, continue the appointment of a Personal Adviser and provide financial assistance near where the young person is employed or seeking employment/to enable the young person to pursue education or training remain unchanged they are covered by Regulations 4 to 9 of the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010 (as amended by the Children and Social Work Act 2017). These duties continue until the young person becomes 21 or, where the Pathway Plan sets out a plan for continuing support, including a programme of education or training beyond 21 and up to 25. The duty to pay a higher education bursary also continues, as before.

The duties of Local Authorities are extended in relation to Former Relevant Young People who inform the Local Authority of their wish to take up a plan for continuing support, including or a programme of full time further or higher education after the age of 21 and under the age of 25. In relation to these young people, the Local authority has a duty to:
  • Appoint a Personal Adviser;
  • Carry out an assessment of the needs to determine what assistance (if any) it would be appropriate to provide;
  • Prepare a Pathway Plan;
  • Provide through its Corporate Parenting responsibilities support, advise and assistance to the care leaver as assessed and described in the Pathway Plan;
  • Give assistance to the extent that the young person's educational or training needs require it. The kinds of assistance are: contributing to expenses incurred by the young person in living near the place where s/he is, or will be, receiving education or training; or making a grant to enable the young person to meet expenses connected with his education and training.

In each case where a care leaver requests support with education or training, the Local Authority will need to assess the appropriateness of the course and how it will help the young person to achieve his or her ambitions. The extent of the practical and financial assistance provided will reflect the type of course, whether full- or part-time, and the young person's existing income.

4. Qualifying Young People

Qualifying young people are over the age of 16 and under the age of 25 (see Former Relevant Young People), and have been Looked After or, if disabled, Privately Fostered after reaching 16, but do not qualify as Eligible, Relevant or Former Relevant. They may receive support, advice and assistance wherever they are living.

Coram Voice provide a useful quiz that can help identify Care Experienced status that can be found here: Am I a care leaver?

5. Personal Adviser

A Personal Adviser is responsible for working with young people who have left the care of the Local Authority. The Personal Adviser will hold a pivotal role in the planning and review of services as set out in the Pathway Plan. There is a requirement that the Personal Adviser is suitably trained in carrying out their role.

6. Pathway Plan

The Pathway Plan sets out the route to the future for young people leaving the Looked After service and will state how their needs will be met in their path to independence. The plan will continue to be implemented and reviewed until they are 21; or up to 25 if completing an agreed course of education or training begun before they were 21 or if the young person requests continued support until they are 25 years old. The Pathway Plan must be fully implemented by the time a young person is 16 years and 4 months old. For Children looked after, the Pathway plan will replace the Care Plan.

2. Role of Personal Adviser

The key roles of the Personal Adviser are:

  1. To provide advice;
  2. To advise on and monitor progress of the young person's Pathway Plan Assessment;
  3. To take a lead role in the preparation of the Pathway Plan;
  4. To participate in reviews of the Pathway Plan;
  5. To liaise with other agencies, including other local authorities in the implementation of the Pathway Plan and to advocate for the young person;
  6. To coordinate the provision of services under the Pathway Plan and take steps to ensure the young person makes use of such services;
  7. To keep informed about the young person's progress and well-being;
  8. To keep written records of contact with the young person. Contact can be face to face, telephone or written. However, it is good practice to ensure a minimum of twice per year face to face contact;
  9. To contact care leavers who are 21 years old and over, annually until their 25th birthday to ensure they are aware of the Knowsley Local Offer and that they can continue to request support.

Personal Advisers will maintain contact with the young person on a regular basis up to the age of 21 (or up to the age of 25 for those who request continued support). The level and nature of the contact will be specified in the young person's Pathway Plan.

The Personal Adviser must maintain a written record of their contacts with the young person, monitoring the effectiveness of services in preparing the young person for a time when they will move to greater independence or when they cease to be Looked After.

Where a Personal Adviser loses touch with a young person, relevant agencies must be notified which may include another local authority, and all immediate practicable steps must be taken to re-establish contact. The Personal Adviser should make the Team Manager aware immediately and a plan will be agreed. Personal Advisers' shall ensure all attempts are recorded and in line with any relevant risk assessments.

The Personal Adviser will act as the principal source of contact in any matter relating to the Pathway Plan.

Once a Pathway Plan has been made, the Personal Adviser will monitor its progress through direct contact with the young person and with the agencies and individuals identified in the Plan as providing a service or being significant.

Personal Advisors from Knowsley's Care Experienced People Team will be allocated to Eligible care experienced people from 16 years of age. Personal Advisors will provide advice, support and guidance throughout the care experienced person's journey into adulthood by supporting them in the following areas:

Eligible Care Experienced People aged 16

  • Personal Advisors befriend and provide support, advice, and guidance;
  • Provide direct support to develop independence skills in one to one and group sessions with frequency and duration to be approved by the Care Experienced People Team Manager;
  • May attend statutory visits alongside the allocated Social Worker.

Eligible Care Experienced People aged 17

  • Attend Statutory Reviews and Personal Education Planning meetings;
  • Support Property Pool Plus applications (see Accommodation);
  • Support early Universal Credit claims (See Joint Protocol with DWP);
  • Present the young person's case to the High Priority Resettlement Panel (see Accommodation);
  • Provide support to obtain a provisional driving licence.

Relevant aged 16 -17 and Former Relevant Care Experienced People aged 18-21

  • Personal Advisors coordinate the update of the Pathway Plan every 6 months or within 28 days following a significant event;
  • Maintain Keeping In Touch within every 60 days as a minimum;
  • Support involvement with partner agencies: Health, DWP, EET support, Probation, Police etc;
  • Will provide support with voter registration.

Former Relevant Care Experienced People aged 21 - 25

  • Personal Advisor provide on-going support, advice and guidance based on needs-led Pathway Planning;
  • Maintain Keeping In Touch in line with needs-led assessment;
  • Signpost to partner agencies and 3rd sector services.

Qualifying Care Experienced People aged 18 - 25

  • Personal Advisor will send a yearly letter detailing the support offer and guidance on how this can be accessed;
  • Personal Advisors undertake one-off needs assessment on request which may include time limited support advice and guidance.