1. Paul Startup, Head of the Care Leavers’ Service, introduced the report and set out the changes being made to the service as a result of new guidance in the Children and Social Work Act 2017:-
i. most care leavers of 21+ opted to continue receiving services from the team;
ii. the service was currently dealing with a substantial increase in the number of care leavers year on year, as many of the high number of unaccompanied Asylum-seeking children arriving in the county in 2015 were now reaching the age of 18 and attaining care leaver status;
iii. to cope with the above, and give greater stability and consistency, the service had gained a permanent management team and more personal advisors;
iv. two new service managers had been recruited, to work with UASC and young people transitioning from children in care to care leaver status, and personal advisors would be allocated earlier, to help young people to transition;
v. care leavers in custody would be given a care plan to assist their transition upon release;
vi. the rent guarantor scheme had had a good take-up, and landlords were gradually grasping the concept of the County Council standing as guarantor; and
vii. the new local offer was on target to launch in December 2018.
2. Mr Startup and Ms Hammond, Director of Integrated Children’s Services East (Social Work Lead) then responded to comments and questions from the Panel, including the following:-
a) asked about the availability of suitable accommodation for care
leavers, Mr Startup explained that it was sometimes difficult to find the right place and that, in some areas, suitable accommodation was harder to find and afford. Young people could not always be found a place in the area where they most wanted to live, but the service would always avoid placing a young person where they felt they would be vulnerable;
b) asked if a young person who had ‘opted out’ of the service could change their mind and opt back in, Mr Startup confirmed that this could be done as soon as a request to do so was received;
c) Ms Hammond explained that, although there was no duty upon Borough and District Councils to provide accommodation for care leavers as part of its housing stock, the County Council as Corporate Parent had a duty to ensure that all care leavers had secure and safe accommodation; and
d) Mr Startup advised that all care leavers would be sent a letter setting out the changes arising from the new legislation and would be sent an online survey in October 2018 to seek their views on the service. The outcomes of that survey would be reported to a future meeting of the Corporate Parenting Panel.
3. It was RESOLVED that:-
a) the proposed structure of the 18plus Care Leaving Service, to meet the increasing demand of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children transitioning into theservice, and the progress to date, be noted; and
b) the outcome of the care leavers’ survey be reported to a future meeting of the Corporate Parenting Panel.