Services for young people leaving care in Devon much improved

Posted on: 11 October 2018

There has been a big improvement in the way Devon County Council looks after young people leaving care, according to inspectors.

They say the authority has recently made purposeful and well-targeted progress in improving services for its care leavers.

Two senior inspectors from Ofsted spent two days in Devon last month on a snap inspection and their report has just been published.

Lead inspector Emmy Tomsett concludes: “Improvement measures are now contributing to better outcomes for care leavers in most aspects of their lives.

“Corporate parenting is now a key strength in Devon.

“Social workers and personal advisors are highly committed to supporting care leavers and their passion and dedication are greatly appreciated by young people.”

She says safeguarding risks to care leavers, including sexual exploitation, are routinely identified and swiftly acted upon.

They receive timely support to start preparing for independence and are well supported.

Arrangements to ensure they have access to sufficient, suitable and safe accommodation have been strengthened considerably.

In September 2018, 92 per cent of care leavers were in suitable accommodation compared to 64 per cent at the last inspection.

The number of care leavers in education, employment or training has also increased and is in line with national averages.

“Senior leaders are working purposefully to ensure this increases further and aspirations for care leavers are consistently high,” says Ms Tomsett.

The level of support and expertise offered to unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people in Devon is a strength, she adds.

“Plans for this group of young people are routinely clear, specific and measurable and result in consistently good outcomes for them,” she says.

There has been a period of change to the organisational structure at the county council accompanied by senior management turnover. This has now stabilised.

“Senior leaders have prioritised staff recruitment and retention effectively,” she says.

“Workforce stability across the service has improved significantly and, while there is some use of agency staff, this is very limited.

“Consequently, care leavers are increasingly benefiting from the continuity of relationships that a stable workforce affords.”

Ms Tomsett says that managers need to improve their use of performance information and quality assurance processes and the range of training for personal advisors and social workers.

The service also needs to improve the quality and timeliness of case recording and return home interviews when young people go missing.

But she adds: “Senior leaders recognise the need to increase the momentum of improvement so that good quality practice is routinely delivered in Devon.”

Councillor James McInnes

Devon County Council’s deputy leader and Cabinet member for children’s services, James McInnes, said:

“I am really pleased that the improvements we are making have been recognised by independent inspectors but, as always, there are no grounds for complacency and we have much more work to do.

“However I want to add my thanks to our staff who the inspectors recognise as highly committed, passionate and dedicated and who make a real difference to the lives of some of our most vulnerable young people.”

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Posted in: Health and Wellbeing