Home Children and Young People Progress made with support provided to care experienced people
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Progress made with support provided to care experienced people

by Gemma Melling

Ofsted carried out a focused visit of Children’s Services on 31 January and 1 February 2024. Inspectors reviewed the Council’s arrangements for care experienced people (care leavers) including how they are supported into adulthood; the quality and suitability of accommodation; support into employment, education and training; staying close and in touch; and support to care experienced people with specific needs (such as those in custody).

As well as reviewing records and completing file audits, Inspectors also spoke to care experienced people, social workers and personal advisors.

In June 2022, the Council completed an external review of its care experienced service and developed a Care Experienced People Strategy 2023-2026 which was developed in consultation with young people and stakeholders. It outlines key priorities to support care experienced people to live independently, have access to training and employment opportunities, for them to be part of decision making and be empowered to make decisions about their future.

Inspectors noted that progress has been made relating to service development and corporate parenting, but service delivery can vary.

Inspectors found that:-

  • For most 16 and 17 year olds who are about to move out of the Council’s care, their social workers have a good understanding of the risks that they can be exposed to and take effective action to safeguard them and promote their safety.
  • For most, pathway plans are clear and show that focused direct work is undertaken to support individual needs. Some plans are written in collaboration with young people.
  • Most children are allocated a personal advisor, leading to the meaningful relationship before their transition to the care experienced service.
  • Personal advisors are persistent in maintaining contact and they provide additional support where required.
  • Most children aged 16 and 17 are engaged in education. Progress is regularly reviewed by the employment, education and training panel. The virtual school supports these young people well, enabling them to progress and be ambitious.
  • Personalised support is provided to help children to successful move on to higher education.
  • The health needs of most care experienced people are considered and met and they are able to access emotional and mental health support.
  • In the main, care experienced people are living in accommodation that is safe and support their needs. When housing issues arise, personal advisors support young people to maintain their tenancies or help them move into more appropriate accommodation.
  • The local offer for care experienced people has been strengthened. This includes the provision of laptops and phones, Council Tax support, leisure passes and driving lessons.
  • It was also noted that Councillors donated their annual pay rise to support care experienced young people, demonstrating a commitment to the corporate parenting role.

A number of areas for improvement were identified including the quality and review of pathway plans; the quality and frequency of supervision and management oversight (including reviewing social worker case loads) and the level of quality assurance activity.

Jonathan Jones, the newly appointed Executive Director for Children’s Services, said “We take on board the findings from the focussed visit which identified a number of areas where we have improved, as well as outlining some areas for improvement. We will continue to work with our care experienced people, staff and partners to ensure the very best support and services are provided to those children in our care, as well as supporting them to move into independence. Like any parent, we want the very best for our children and young people and ensuring our care experienced people are support to develop, succeed and achieve is a key priority for the Council.”

Quote provided by Cllr Margaret Harvey, Knowsley Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services:

“We know that young people need support and guidance as they move into adulthood and become independent. This is even more important for the young people leaving the care system who may already have experienced life challenges and may lack the support networks they can lean on.

“Here in Knowsley we are continually striving to enhance and improve our services for care experienced people and we welcome the feedback from Ofsted. They have recognised good practice and progress across the service as well as identifying areas where we need to improve our practice and the support we provide to our care experienced people.”