Thursday 7th September 2017
Being held just over a year on from the publication of the Government’s Care Leaver Strategy, Keep On Caring: Supporting Young People from Care to Independence, this forum will be an opportunity for policymakers and delegates alike to discuss how to ensure the best future for children and young people leaving care, highlight areas for improvement, share best practice nationally as well as discuss the way forward for implementation and continuation of the Government’s vision for care leavers.
Adequate Preparation for Leaving Care – The Role of Personal Advisers, Establishing Pathways Plans and Implementing the Care Leavers Strategy
Being held two years on from the Public Accounts Committee inquiry into Care leavers' transition to adulthood, which outlined concerns about DfE’s reluctance to play an active role in securing better services and outcomes for children in care, delegates will consider whether there have been improvements made by the department, if the Government’s recent care leaver strategy goes far enough to address past concerns as well as assess the current quality of Pathway Plans and how to improve them. As Government has committed to review the role of Personal Advisers, sessions will consider their responsibilities, whether they have adequate support to fulfil these effectively and assess the quality of current provision being given. Delegates will also discuss whether there is an opportunity for care leavers to become Personal Advisers, given their unique experience of the care system, and assess possible routes into this role. Attendees will also assess the potential influence of the ‘care leaver covenant’, proposed in the Government’s Putting Children First policy paper, in ensuring all those involved in children’s residential care assume the responsibility of corporate parenting with care leavers’ best interests at heart.
Ensuring Support Beyond 18 – The Impact of Staying Put, Providing Adequate Accommodation and Overcoming Other Common Issues
With many young people receiving support from their parents well into their 20s, sessions will also look at what needs to be done by the state to ensure young people leaving care are given the best support available. The session will focus on some of the issues facing young people leaving care and what needs to be done to overcome them, particularly looking at financial and residential difficulties. Delegates will consider, given that many care leavers end up in unsuitable accommodation, what support could be given to these young adults, including calls for care leavers to be exempt from council tax until they reach age 21, as well as what more can be done to ensure children in care receive sufficient financial education and support, building on recommendations from the recent report by The Children’s Society, The cost of being care free. Delegates will also discuss the impact of Staying Put, which allows care leavers to stay with their foster families until they are 21, and consider whether the policy is adequately funded given that some foster carers are unable to continue support beyond 18 because of the 70% reductions in the payments they receive. Delegates will also consider the outcomes from the Staying Close pilot, as proposed by Sir Martin Narey in his review of Children’s residential care in England. Delegates will also consider the impact of the extension of pathway plans and Personal Advisers to 25 on ensuring care leavers are adequately supported into adulthood.
Positive Pathways After Care – Opportunities for Work and Study, The Role of Apprenticeships and Reducing Representation in Custody
With almost 40% of care leavers being out of education, employment or training, sessions will also discuss what more can be done to ensure positive outcomes for those leaving care, whether it is progression to further study or entering the workplace. Delegates will consider what Government, schools and employers can do to provide more vocational opportunities for care leavers, building on the recommendations from the Children’s Commissioner’s recent report Delivering a Care Leaver’s Strategy for Traineeships and Apprenticeships, given that care leavers aged 19-21 eight times less likely to be apprentices than the general population. Delegates will also assess the success of Buttle UK’s Quality Mark for Care Leavers in increasing the number of care leavers attending university and raising awareness of the support available, and consider whether similar schemes may be beneficial going forward. Attendees will also discuss what can be done about the significant overrepresentation of care leavers in the justice system, including how much progress has been made since the publication of Lord Laming’s Independent Review, In Care, Out of Trouble.