The Corporate Director of Children’s Services introduced the item to the Committee explaining the Local Government Association (LGA) had produced a resource pack on ‘Support for Care Leavers’ for Members in their Corporate Parenting role.
She continued to advise the resource pack set out an introduction for Members about care leavers and statutory responsibilities for Council’s and Members. It was highlighted within the resource pack was a number of sessions that would be of use to Members such as:
· Key Lines of Enquiry for all Councillors, which set out the issues that Members would need to consider when having oversight of services for Care Leavers.
· Case studies from Local Authorities who have tried different ways of working with their care leavers.
heard how the resource pack was deemed a
helpful tool for
Members in their Corporate Parenting role, to consider what areas
of practice relating to care leavers they wish to scrutinise.
The Chair felt this was a useful resource pack, and felt that all Members of the Council should see it, so they could better understand their Corporate Parenting role. The Chair asked if an update on the resource pack could come to the next committee. Councillor Liddiard agreed with the Chair that all Members should view the pack, as he felt it was very important.
Councillor Smith drew the Committee’s attention to page 33 and asked what care leavers were telling the council, and how they could share their views. The Strategic Lead for Looked After Children stated that the Children in Care Council held different events throughout the year to get feedback from children in care across the borough, and consider the care leavers’ offer. She added that this month the Children in Care Council were running an event to take care leavers out and discuss the care leavers’ offer. She added that they were also working to develop joint working between the finance team, Staying Put, and the housing team to assist care leavers.
The Chair then asked the care leavers that had attended the meeting to give their views regarding the care leavers offer. The Chair of the Children in Care Council stated that he had recently moved from a hostel to his own flat, and stated that he had struggled to get paperwork, such as passports and habitual residency tests, because he was estranged from his parents. He added that this had made it difficult to get a job. He commented that the Children in Care Council organised lots of events, particularly at the Inspire Hub, which were aimed at getting care leavers together and planning group activities. He felt these sessions were good as it allowed to care leavers to see the more ‘human’ side of their social workers, and gave the children something to do. He felt that the Council should provide more reasons and opportunities for children in care to meet, as it allowed them to discuss their experiences.
The Thurrock Open Door Representative invited all Councillors to the next meeting of the Children in Care Council, to allow Members to meet more children in care. The Chair asked the Corporate Director of Children’s Services to invite all Councillors to the meeting, as she felt that all Councillors had a responsibility as corporate parents.
The Leaving Care Social Worker spoke on behalf of the Child in Care Representative and stated that as a child that had recently left care, Ms. Wilson now had to manage her own tenancy, bills, and job. She stated that Ms Wilson was on minimum wage for her age bracket and often had to work 70 hour weeks to ensure her rent and bills were paid for, and she had no family support. The Leaving Care Social Worker felt that some council departments did not understand how difficult it could be for young care leavers, and asked if more specialists who understood the care system could be put in place in the housing and council tax teams. She added that if Ms Wilson fell behind on rent or bills, demanding letters would be sent, which could be frightening for a young adult who had just left care. The Strategic Lead for Looked After Children stated that the team were currently working on their financial policy to ensure that care leavers received the support they needed, and that working was worthwhile for them. The Chair highlighted some avenues of support for care leavers, such as their Local Councillors who can help provide support and point care leavers in the right direction. The Chair congratulated the Child in Care Representative for all her hard work and dedication. Councillor Liddiard added that support could also be found in community hubs, as many volunteer organisations such as DIAL, housing support, and Local Area Coordinators ran sessions that could be of use.
1. Consider the Support for Care Leavers resource pack
3. That an update report be provided at the next meeting of the Corporate Parenting Committee