National Implementation Adviser for Care Leavers’ First Year Report: October 2017 to October 2018
When children and young people are taken into care, the State becomes their parent. And in fulfilling that role, the State needs to be as ambitious and aspirational as any other parent is for their children. It needs to provide the love and support that all children need in order to thrive; it needs to help them prepare for the challenges of independent adult life; and it needs to help them to access the opportunities they need to progress and make successful lives.
Local authorities are the primary parent. It is they who make the day to day decisions about where children in care and care leavers live, who cares for them and what additional support they will receive to help them overcome their difficult starts in life, such as additional support to improve their educational attainment, or emotional health and well-being.
The quality of support that local authorities provide is therefore vital. That is why, building on the existing set of duties on local authorities, we have extended the support package that local authorities are required to provide to care leavers, including a new duty to consult on and publish their ‘local offer’; and a duty to offer Personal Adviser support to all care leavers to age 25.
To support local authorities to introduce these changes my predecessor, Edward Timpson, appointed Mark Riddell to be the national implementation adviser for care leavers. Over the last year, as well as attending lots of national and regional events, Mark has visited over 40 local authorities to offer advice and support. He has told me that many local authorities are responding positively to the new challenges and I am encouraged by what he has told me about the additional commitments that LAs are including in their local offers, which are now beginning to be published. For example, we know that around half of LAs have decided to introduce Council Tax exemptions for care leavers.
Now that Mark has been in post for a year, I have asked him to compile examples that highlight some of the innovative ways that local authorities are taking forward their new responsibilities and improving the lives of care leavers. This report shows how LAs are being creative in responding to the challenges that care leavers face. Examples have been brigaded under the 5 outcomes set out in the cross-Government care leaver strategy – Keep on Caring. I encourage you all to review this report and think about how you can replicate the good practice in it in your own local areas.
Nadhim Zahawi MP, Minister for Children & Families