[To receive an update on the Care Leaver Offer Review.]
Alice Vickers, Corporate Parenting Officer delivered a presentation on the outcomes of the consultation undertaken as part of the Care Leaver Offer Review. It was reported that the Care Leaver Offer had been developed in consultation with the Care Leavers’ Forum and was comprised of the services and facilities that the Local Authority and partners had made available to Wolverhampton Care Leavers. It was noted that a printed booklet had also been produced cataloguing these services to enable care leavers to be aware of and easily access everything they were entitled to as part of the offer. The offer had been launched last year and a review was in progress.
It was noted that the Care Leaver Offer Review consultation exercise was designed to obtain young people’s opinions and experiences of the services provided as part of the Local Care Offer. The presentation outlined statistics gathered to date on how the Local Care Offer had been received. It was noted that a full report had been scheduled for the next meeting of the Corporate Parenting Board, however some highlights were reported.
It was reported that there had been 609 hits on the Care Leaver Offer website.
A mentoring scheme had been established, supported by the Mayor of the City of Wolverhampton Council and the Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority. It was noted that this was a universal provision which care leavers had been made aware of however few had taken the offer up.
Young people had reported that they would like more social events to meet up together. It was also requested that specialist support groups, covering subjects such as domestic violence or parenthood, could be established for them to share their experiences with each other. These suggestions were currently being explored. It was also noted that children and young people wished to be notified as early as possible that these events were taking place.
It was noted that the Access to University and preparation for university life was a good addition, however it was suggested that guidance for life after university be covered as well.
It was reported that there had not been much participation in the mock interviews, however it was thought that this was because young people sometimes did not communicate that they had an interview planned.
In response to a concern on how issues of low confidence and self-esteem could be tackled, it was noted the service had procured a team from the Ascend charity to work with specialist vulnerable groups to address this.
It was suggested that free prescriptions or eye tests for care leavers in work would be beneficial as money could be tight when living independently.
It was noted that Care Leavers’ Week was being held in the City from 24 – 31 October 2019 and the Care Leaver Offer would be promoted during this to raise awareness.
It was reported that there were key workers in local Job Centres who had received Total Respect training and were equipped to support young care leavers looking for employment. This provision had been commended as an example of good practice by the Department for Education and Department for Work and Pensions.
It was highlighted that Kirsty Dorward, Care Leaver Lead for the University of Wolverhampton had developed a support package for students which had achieved gold standard as part of the Care Leaver Covenant.
It was reported that the Swift cards had been well received by the young people, although it was noted that some bus services ceased to operate after certain times in the evening, which made transport after this time difficult for young people. It was suggested that a service become available later in the evening to make it possible for young people to visit a wider range of areas throughout the City.
It was queried whether the Authority had any involvement if a care leaver chose to reconnect with their birth parents after reaching adulthood. Concerns were voiced over whether young people may again be vulnerable to behaviours that had resulted in their placement in care initially. It was reported that the Safeguarding service could be involved with young people up until the age of 25, however the Authority could offer its support to young people but not control the level of contact they had with their birth families. It was highlighted that, in many cases, children and young people in care retained regular contact with their birth families and relationships were often rehabilitated when appropriate.
That the presentation on the Care Leaver Offer Review be received.