Independent report praises Wiltshire Council for providing the right support at the right time for care leavers

A team of Ofsted inspectors spoke to care leavers as well as council staff and partners and concluded care leavers are supported by a "passionate, skilled and stable workforce"

Published 28 February 2022
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An independent inspection of how Wiltshire Council supports its care leavers has praised the work of teams who provide the "right support, at the right time, to help them make progress in their lives."

A team of Ofsted inspectors spoke to care leavers as well as council staff and partners and concluded care leavers are supported by a "passionate, skilled and stable workforce."

The report added care leavers' individual achievements and successes are recognised and celebrated by workers, managers, leaders and elected members who are aspirational for them and share an ambition to be the "best parents in the country."

Wiltshire has 324 care leavers to whom it provides ongoing support. This includes delivering on the care leaver promise which provides help for driving lessons, exemption from council tax and leisure centre discounts as well as support for education and training amongst a list of other support.

The "Focused Visit" by Ofsted inspectors was carried out in line with the inspection of local authority children's services, which looked at the council's arrangements for and the experience of care leavers.

Key findings were:

  • Care leavers have stable and trusting relationships with their workers and are visited regularly
  • Care leavers are well supported in accessing help and services they need to meet their physical and emotional health needs
  • Most care leavers live successfully in safe, stable and suitable accommodation - being supported to move to the right accommodation. This work has resulted in a 50% drop in homelessness applications
  • Care leavers are helped to prepare for adulthood and to learn independent living skills such as managing money, paying bills, laundry and cooking
  • Care leavers receive careers advice and are helped to apply for higher education, training and apprenticeships
  • The Children and Youth Voice team provides opportunities for care leavers to influence and shape the support and services they receive

The report advises the council can further build on all the good work by improving the frequency and recording of reflective discussions with case workers and ensuring care leavers' voices are included in audit which is sufficiently focused on their experiences to help inform learning and service planning.

Cllr Laura Mayes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children's Services said: "Our care leavers deserve only the best - the best encouragement, support and confidence to live their life to the full and not miss out on the advantages that many young people take for granted. This report shows how seriously we take our responsibility to support our young people and how they trust us to work with them. We are never complacent and there is always more we want to do. The best way to make sure we continue to strive to be the best we can and to improve even further is to continue to work with our young people and ensure their voices are included thoroughly in future auditing.."

Sam Heathcote, a care leaver who is now a Children in Care Team Manager at Wiltshire Council recently organised for every care leaver to receive a voucher last Christmas.

She said: "Without the wonderful support of my social worker and my personal adviser who I vividly remember driving me 300 miles to university for my placement and going above and beyond to get me where I am today I absolutely would not have qualified as a social worker. My village has been massive to part of my resilience and extends to my foster carers who I am still in contact with to this day. In terms of that stickability that I needed as a child that's what got me through some of the really difficult parts of my life and I'm very blessed to be where I am today." You can watch a link to Sam's video online.

You can read the full Ofsted report here Ofsted | Wiltshire Council.

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Published 28 February 2022