Report of Strategic Director, Care Wellbeing and Learning
A case study on the support to care leavers was presented to the Committee. It was noted that the Care Pledge and the local offer fits under the new legislation which requires local authorities to publish a ‘Local Care Leaver Offer’.
The Government introduced a set of Corporate Parenting principles that all areas within a local authority should recognise as part of their role as a corporate parenting. The principles require corporate parents to;
· Act in the best interests and promote the physical and mental health and wellbeing of LAC
· Encourage LAC to express their views, wishes and feelings
· Take into account the views, wishes and feeling of LAC
· Help LAC gain access to, and make the best use of, services provided by the local authority and its partners
· Promote high aspirations and seek to secure the best outcomes for LAC
· Ensure LAC are safe and they have stability in their home lives, relationships and education or work
· Prepare LAC for adulthood and independent living
It was reported that the role of the personal advisor has changed under the new guidance, there is now a duty to support young people up to the age of 25, previously this was only required until the young person was 21.
All care leavers have a Pathway Plan, this sets out what is needed and who will support them, based on previous assessments and plans and is reviewed on a six monthly basis.
It was noted that previously the accommodation model did not meet young people’s needs, therefore work has been undertaken with Commissioning and a new housing model will commence from 1 July 2018. The new model will provide emergency supported accommodation, a short term assessment unit, medium 24 hour supported accommodation with step down shared living and dispersed houses, supported lodgings and taster flats. A multidisciplinary panel will monitor all placements, therefore there is end to end pathway with more structured support built into the supported lodging accommodation model. This brings all services together to manage the young people effectively.
Prior to any move towards independence links are made with partners, Learning & Skills offers courses on budgeting, banking and debt management. There is also support in terms of Universal Credit and 2 Way Tenancy Solutions provides support in relation to managing a tenancy.
In terms of financial support there are leaving care grants in place to support young people in education, employment or training. In addition there is help for young people in higher education in relation to their accommodation during holiday periods and university fees. In relation to education, employment and training study programmes have been developed to offer employability skills, mock interviews skills to help young people progress into work. For young people who have had special educational needs packages are in place to help them gain skills to enter employment.
It was confirmed that there has been improvements made in terms of young people in education, employment or training (EET), the number of young people in EET has increased by 10% in the last 12 months.
It was questioned whether apprenticeships could be created within businesses that the Council commission. It was confirmed that a stakeholder event is to be held to build into the local offer and advise what is expected of stakeholders as corporate parents. There has been a commitment made that every contract will have commitment built into it to look at the possibility of apprenticeships.
It was queried whether there is medical support continuity if a young person moved placements. It was confirmed that all young people have a health passport and personal advisors ensure they are registered with necessary health professionals. It was acknowledged that there are challenges around ensuring all young people understand what the passport is for.
The point was made that there has previously been times with care leavers refusing to engage in education, employment or training and it was questioned whether the use of a personal adviser would help in these situations. It was confirmed that currently there are 13 young people not engaging and therefore they have to be classed as NEET, even if they may be in work etc.
It was questioned what the situation would be with a young person attending university outside of the area. It was confirmed that in this situation a young person could still return to their foster placement and the service would work with the leaving care service in the young person’s new area. There are currently 15 young people attending university outside of the area.
RESOLVED - (i) That the Committee was satisfied with the level of
support Care Leavers are receiving in Gateshead.
(ii) That Committee agreed to receive a further report on
the support offered to Care Leavers.