Kirklees Children in Care Council
We had a lively session last week at the Kirklees Children in Care Council.
We received feedback from the young people who were directly involved in the film produced by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner which looked at the support they receive and need when leaving care.
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, has recently added her voice to that of others calling for Staying Put for children in foster care to be extended to all young people leaving care. She commissioned the film.
At the ADCS annual conference earlier this month, the Minister of State for Children and Families, Edward Timpson, pledged to do more to ensure that these young people get the help and support they need at a time in their lives when they need it the most.
The young people from Kirklees enjoyed being involved in the film for various reasons including feeling their views were important and listened to. They also enjoyed their visit to the ADCS conference for the launch of the film where they met Edward Timpson MP.
Representatives at the Children in Care Council session also discussed the introduction of social worker and young people profiles. The social worker profiles gives young people details about them including personal as well as professional information. The young people also complete their own personal profile – which they then exchange with their social worker.
This development is the direct result of a meeting earlier this year when young people explained that it was unfair that their social workers knew personal information about them, but they knew nothing about their social worker. This new way of working will be introduced later this year and we’re hopeful that this small, but significant step, will help build trust and get this complex and sometimes challenging relationship off to a better start. I’m looking forward to hear more as work progresses.
Cllr Erin Hill, our new Cabinet Member for Family Support and Child Protection, also attended the session - she is keen to involve other councillors in young people’s activities across the borough.
In particular we talked about the new Care Leavers Forum, which is driven by Kirklees adopting the Care Leavers Foundation’s New Belongings initiative in order to improve outcomes for care leavers and also the planned Takeover Daylater this year. Takeover Day is an opportunity for young people to shadow both staff and councillors for the day – it will help influence decision making and service development for young people in care.
Kirklees Council has pledged to provide the best support possible for our care leavers and the New Belongings project will help us keep on track. This will involve young people from the age of 16-21 overseeing the support we give to them. They will represent other young people in care, and cover issues such as how they raise concerns, the role of corporate parents, raising the profile of children in care and ensuring young people themselves are agreeing what the priorities are and setting the agenda.
So, all in all, some good working happening – not only in the council where I work – but up and down the country across all children and young people services. The secret is to share the learning and celebrate the achievement of young people in care!
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