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To Sam

I would like to leave care when I’m 16 and move in with my boyfriend

Im soon to be 16 and im currently in care . I started as a section 20 and my parents have full parental rights over me is it possible for me to move in with my boyfriend and leave care .

Ask Sam


Hi there,

You have certain rights and these come at different ages and are dependent on your circumstances. Leaving care is a big step and there's usually support in place for young people leaving care, so it would be important to access that.

Section 20 of the Children's Act is the part of law which says you can voluntarily go into care, under the right circumstances. This also means that once you're 16 it's possible you can voluntarily leave - though this will depend on the reasons you were in care and your individual situation.

It's important to know your rights when leaving care and there are certain things you are entitled to. You should be given access to a personal advisor until you're 21 years old - or 25 if you're still in education. This doesn't change if you voluntarily decide to leave. You also have a right to something called a needs assessment, which looks at what you would need once you leave care and to make a pathway plan - which is a plan of what will happen when the time comes to leave care. All of these things are there to help give you the best start in your adult life as possible.

Whilst leaving care early is possible, it might be good to think about what is going to be best for you. Living on your own or with a partner can sound appealing at first but there's a lot to think about. You need to think about how you'll support yourself and what you want to do with your education and career. You would need to think about what would happen if you broke up with your boyfriend as you may not be able to go back to what you had. It's a big decision and needs some thought.

Your social worker would be someone who can help you understand this choice. Talking to them would be a great first start and you can look at making a pathway plan, so that you get the support you need at the right time for you.

Remember that you can always talk this through with a Childline counsellor if you need to.

Take care,


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