Care leavers who are parents

We can help you and your child get off to the best possible start in your parenting journey.

Before you become a parent

We can help you start a family at a time that is right for you and can prepare you for being a parent.

To support with this, we can discuss:

  • sexual health
  • healthy relationships
  • family planning advice

You can also find information on the Essex Sexual Health website.

Your leaving and after care nurse will make sure that you have access to family planning advice and contraception.

Your personal adviser can help you access your local family centre, where you can learn about caring for babies and children.

The mental health coordinator can support you with feelings about any parenting that you experienced.

When you’re expecting a child or becoming a parent

If you are pregnant, you can get support from health professionals. This is called antenatal care.

Find out more about health support during pregnancy

Your leaving and after care team are committed to supporting your wellbeing and understand that all individual needs and circumstances are different.

We will make sure you have a suitable home, income and essential items.

You could receive a one-off payment of £500 to help with the costs of having a child. This is called a Sure Start Maternity Grant.

Find out more about Sure Start Maternity Grants on GOV.UK

If you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may receive help to buy healthy food and milk.

Apply on the Healthy Start website

If you are the non-birthing parent, we will offer you opportunities to access support during the pregnancy as the birth will affect you too. We’ll suggest ways you can support your partner during pregnancy.

Support with parenting

Your personal adviser, along with the family centre team can help you with the basics such as:

  • how to change a nappy
  • how to bath a baby
  • when to seek medical advice
  • how to register for a school place, a dentist or an optician

The Essex Child and Family Wellbeing service has centres called 'family hubs'. These can help you access a range of support including parenting classes.

Find your local family hub

If you are not comfortable in groups, your personal adviser will explore setting up 1 to 1 parenting support until you are.

You can attend a Care Leaver Parent Group. This is a safe place to meet with a community of care leavers with children. They happen in Witham and Colchester. We can provide you with transport to help you get there.

To book, email or phone 07584262934.

Find upcoming Care Leaver Parent Group events on the Children in Care Council website

Help with healthcare for you and your child

Your personal adviser and a Leaving and After Care nurse can help you access health services such as:

  • GPs
  • Midwives
  • health visitors
  • dentists

A member of the leaving and after care team can go with you to your appointments if you want extra support.

You may be eligible to receive free prescriptions, dental treatment, and other health costs. Your personal adviser can tell you about this. You can also check if you can receive free prescriptions on the NHS website.

Help with everyday costs

Your personal adviser can provide you with money management advice and support you in making a budget plan as part of your pathway plan. This will include the important costs that come with being a parent.

There are local 'baby banks' which can help with clothing and other essential items. Your personal adviser can help you access these.

Find more information about help with your finances.

Help with childcare

There is a range of support available to help pay for childcare. Once your child reaches 2 years old, we can help you to look into childcare options.

The support you receive will depend on your circumstances. Find out more about help with childcare on GOV.UK.

Support with the children's social care process

Referrals are only made to Children’s Social Care when there is evidence of risk, not because you are a care leaver. If your child is known to children's social care, your personal adviser can help you with this. This can include supporting you in meetings.

If an assessment is needed, we will make sure you receive fair treatment, and that your rights are respected.

Your personal adviser will make sure that:

  • your opinions are heard
  • you understand what is happening
  • you understand what plans are in place

Whatever the situation, we will support you in building and maintaining a relationship with your child.

Support parents with planning for the future

One care leaver shared this quote with us: “you are still a person, not just a parent.” With this in mind we want to help you plan for your future.

This support can include:

  • continuing your education
  • accessing training or employment
  • careers advice and guidance
  • transport