(a) That KCC becomes a signatory to the Care Leavers Covenant
(b) To delegate authority to the Corporate Director of Children, Young People and Education, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services and impacted Portfolio holders, to take other relevant actions as necessary to implement the decision.
Reason for Decision:
This is a proposal for Kent County Council to become signatories of the Care Leavers Covenant. As part of this process, the 18+ Care Leavers Service have sought the views of the Young Adult Council, who are in support of this.
The Care Leavers Covenant was established in 2016, run by Spectra on behalf of the Department for Education. It is a national inclusion programme which supports care experienced young people to live independently.
The Care Leavers Covenant is accessible to both private and public companies and agencies e.g., charities, businesses, and Local Authorities, to sign up and commit to providing opportunities to care experienced young adults.
Should Kent County Council become a signatory, they would take a ‘whole council approach’ in supporting the needs and progress of the young adults they are a Corporate Parent for. This means the whole of KCC will accept responsibility for its support provided to our young adults who are Care Leavers. As of 20th March 2023, we have 2051 young adult care leavers aged 18-25 years. “Under the Government’s principles for corporate parenting all departments in local authorities are asked to recognise their role as a corporate parent and to look at the support and service they provide for care leavers”. An example of this, is asking that all departments appoint a Care Leaver champion, who can represent their departments and make decisions around potential pledges and opportunities for our care experienced young adults.
For the Council, adoption of the Care Leaver Covenant is a commitment to the principles of accepting a whole council approach to Corporate Parenting on behalf of all departments across the Local Authority. In practice this may mean being part of a process that reviews such things as the Local Offer and helps the Children in Care and Care Leavers service improve its offer to Care Leavers and provides the political ambition and authority to do so.
For Elected Members, the signing of the Care Leaver Covenant is a confirmation of their political commitment to be the best corporate parents they can be for our Children in Care and Care Leavers. It will secure individual responsibility and accountability to be part of a process that looks at how they can individually contribute to the collective response and act as champions for care leavers when making decisions about the direction of the Local Authority. In practical terms this may mean championing care leavers causes with other organisations using their political influence, such as with the District Borough Councils or Health Authorities.
For Officers, it means promoting the Care Leaver Covenant across all KCC departments and identifying how they can provide meaningful opportunities and improved life chances for children in care and care leavers for whom the Local Authority is the Corporate Parent. This could include work experience, mentoring or apprenticeships across all departments.
For KCC services, it means identifying Care Leaver Champions within each service, who can coordinate opportunities and pledges of support, to liaise with the 18+ Care Leavers Service as a central point, to be able to match young adults to those opportunities available. All KCC services would need to actively promote their role as a Corporate Parent and ensure priority is given to care leavers for any opportunities within their departments. For example, providing additional support to them with interviews for job opportunities. KCC already have in place, priority interviews for our care leavers, where they are appropriately qualified or experienced for the job vacancy. Signing up to the Covenant, would mean all services going the extra mile as a Corporate Parent to secure opportunities for our young adults to support them to reach their full potential. The coordination of the offers as part of the Care Leavers Covenant will be managed and overseen by the Heads of Service and leadership team within the 18+ Care Leavers Service. The service has two specialist Education, Training and Employment (ETE) workers, so there will be no additional staff resource required for the coordination and implementation of this work.
A recommendation for the whole council approach would be for Elected Members, Senior Leaders, and Officers, to form a cross department working group to address the recommendations in the Care Leavers Covenant guide and expand our existing Care leavers Local Offer to include all KCC departments.
There is the option to not sign up to the covenant, the risk of this is the significant impact it would have on being able to get partner agencies and local businesses to engage and commit to making pledges of support to Kent Care Leavers. It is becoming increasingly challenging to get commitment from others when KCC have not signed up as a signatory to the covenant. As our Children’s Services are graded Outstanding by Ofsted, our ambition following this would be to join other Local Authorities and organisations who have signed up to the covenant, the most recent to do this being the NHS. This will formalise the work already achieved in the 18+ Care leavers service and publicly recognise our commitment.
Decision type: Key
Reason Key: Affects more than two Electoral Divisions;
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Division affected: (All Division);
Notice of proposed decision first published: 29/03/2023
Decision due: Not before 27th Apr 2023 by Cabinet
Lead director: Kevin Kasaven
Department: Education & Young People's Services
Contact: Caroline Smith, Assistant Director, Corporate Parenting, Integrated Children's Services Email: Caroline.firstname.lastname@example.org or 03000 415 091 Email: email@example.com Tel: 03000 415091.
The Corporate Parenting Panel discussed the Care Leavers Covenant on 27th July 2022.
Financial implications: There are no financial implications for the delivery of the services that will implement the covenant, it will not require any additional staff resource. One of the aims of the covenant is to improve the financial security for care leavers, by maximising their opportunities to secure employment.
Legal implications: There are no specific legal implications, the Care Leavers Covenant will give a framework to KCC by which to formalise the opportunities it offers to our young adults who are care experienced. It is not a statutory legal requirement or obligation for the organisation to be a signatory to the covenant. If agreed, this would become part of the Care Leavers Local Offer, which is a published document as part of our Corporate Parenting Responsibilities.
Equalities implications: This is being completed by the 18+ Care Leavers service.