The Strategic Lead for Learning and Skills introduced the report which set out the approach to improve the number of Care leavers in Education Employment and Training to enable them to access the regeneration opportunities in Thurrock. The Committee were advised that Portfolio Holders and Shadow Portfolio Holders had recently undertaken visits to find out more about this work.
Councillor S. Little, as Shadow Portfolio Holder, explained that she had recently participated in a visit and highlighted that she found this to be beneficial. She felt that the Duke of Edinburgh Award and courses offered through Essex Fire and Rescue Service were positive for Care Leavers as they taught valuable skills, and was concerned that these could cease due to funding challenges.
Councillor S. Little further suggested that the Planning department should take into account the needs of Care Leavers when determining Planning applications and considering Section 106 agreements for large scale housing developments, and that a small proportion of properties should be allocated to Care Leavers.
Members were advised that the Fire Service did face funding challenges which affected their ability to deliver the courses, however the Council had submitted a number of applications for funding and was pending a decision which if successful would enable some training opportunities to be commissioned.
The Head of Children’s Social Care explained that the service worked closely with the housing team to offer support to Care Leavers but that further discussion would need to be had with the Planning department regarding the use of Section 106 money.
Councillor S. Little queried how many gifted Care Leavers there were and what support was provided, to which the Director of Children’s Services explained that there were 11 Care Leavers currently studying at University.
Councillor Halden felt that the Council should offer more support to Care Leavers through the apprenticeship scheme, but expressed concern over the use of the term ‘positive discrimination.’
The Committee welcomed the fact that the Council looked to Care Leavers to fill apprenticeship opportunities if they were ready to do so, and that pathway plans were devised during Care Leavers exit interviews in order to secure good employment and training opportunities.
Councillor S. Little observed that every Committee had a duty to consider the impact of decision making on Looked After Children and that this ethos should be encouraged.
The Chair welcomed the report but proposed an amendment to recommendation 1.2, to which the Committee agreed, that enabled discussions among Members to be taken offline prior to reporting to Cabinet.
1. To support the development of the programme to enable care leavers to take up ambitious opportunities to take part in education, employment or training.
2. That it be agreed Committee Members discuss any suggestions for change that may enhance outcomes for care leavers with other Members outside of the meeting and liaise with the Strategic Lead for Learning and Skills in order to make recommendations to Cabinet as appropriate.
3. To recommend the activities continue to be delivered by representatives across the Council, as well as making use of external agencies/services.