The Queen’s Speech announced a new set of measures to promote and strengthen children’s social care. If you want to know more detail, The Children and Social Work Bill can be found here.
In an earlier blog I commented on Virtual School Heads embracing the intention of central government to extend their role to include those adopted from care. This commitment is confirmed in the Bill, introduced in the Lords, by Lord Nash, on the 19th May. I was pleased to read that extending the designated teachers role along the same lines has also been included, recognising the joint working between VSHs and schools that already benefits children in care.
Jane Pickthall and I had a very helpful meeting with the Chief Executives of both PAC UK and Adoption UK, Peter Sandiford and Hugh Thornbury, about how we might work in partnership and potentially improve outcomes. We will circulate a draft document for VSHs to consider around working practice – it will helpful to receive feedback via Regional Leads.
So what are the other key measures included in the Bill for those in care and care leavers?
In terms of care leavers it has always seemed an anomaly to me that a care leaver can have support from a Personal Adviser until age 25 if they are engaged in ETE but this is not so if they are NEET. This has been addressed so all can be supported now, including those who are struggling most. Acknowledging, of course, the resource implications for local authorities.
There can surely be little opposition to the proposal that all local authorities consult on and publish a local offer setting out support available to care leavers. This measure will not be something new to most.
I was also surprised to learn that the duty of local authorities as a corporate parent is not defined in one place in statute. There is the intention to make this duty clearer and celebrate good practice. This might be much wider than promoting educational achievement and may include commitments around employment opportunities, housing needs or leisure opportunities. In my own local authority, North Yorkshire, this will involve agreements and commitments between district and county authorities.
I’d like to conclude by asking you to share examples of excellent practice from your own local authorities: how do we go above and beyond as a corporate parent to improve outcomes. Once again if you provide your regional lead with examples we will share with the DFE and partners.
Alan Clifton | NAVSH Chair