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Capstone Foster Care has been involved with ways to help disadvantaged young people in the UK make the transition from youth to adulthood over the years.

At first, this was done through donations to an existing charity or a volunteer organisation. Capstone has now also setup the Capstone Care Leavers Trust (CCLT) which awards grants to people in need who are aged 17-25 years and who have been in care in local authorities in England and Wales. As well as grants, the CCLT offers advice and guidance to young people. This helps improve their life chances.

Part of being in foster care is that the local authority steps into the place of the parents of the child. However, when the young person reaches leaving age, he or she is often thrust into a world that may not have the family support that an extended family might offer. It is common for some foster parents to remain in close contact with their foster family members after they have aged out of the system.

In spite of this, the circumstances for people who aged out of the fostering system are often stressful. In some cases, they are only 16 years old. Whereas most young people are able to continue living at home even when they become young adults, care leavers may not have the benefit of such support. They can enter into their adult lives without family to rely on and minimal financial resources.

The Capstone Care Leavers Trust has come up with a way to close this gap. The Trust provides a way for young people who have been in care to have access to financial support that is not available elsewhere. The CCLT awards grants for further and higher education courses, training courses, purchasing laptops, transportation costs to get to their study and training courses, driving lessons, the practical driving test, and for the purchase of household items such as a sofa, chairs, cooker, fridge, freezer, washing machine, bed, wardrobe, and drawers. CCLT may be able to assist with the costs of starting work, or paying for uniforms or work clothes that are not paid for by the employer.

The CCLT is not a replacement source for grants and other funding for care leavers from statutory or voluntary organisations which remain as the first line of support. Once these areas of support have been explored exhaustively, CCLT is then available to consider an application for a grant. If you have received a grant from the local authority or social services and the funding supplied was not enough to get the household items you need or to advance your education or personal development, you are eligible to apply to CCLT. If you have already had a CCLT grant, you need to wait 12 months before making another application.

The Capstone Care Leavers Trust makes a difference in the lives of people who have come up through the fostering system and who are without the kind of extended support that many young people have. It bridges their journey from being in care into the larger community.

For further information, please visit http://www.capstonecareleaverstrust.org/

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