For young people, leaving home for the first time is exciting but it can also be daunting; even frightening. A parent often provides the reassurance they need. For young people who have spent their childhood in care, Ealing Council is the ‘parent’ that gives them that support.
Recognised nationally for the terrific support it provides, the council’s leaving care service is one of the best in the country. Ofsted has rated it as ‘outstanding’ and a recent national award acknowledged its positive work.
Ofsted picked out the council’s Horizons Education and Achievement Centre as ‘exceptional’ for its support on things like life skills such as cooking and budgeting, as well as advice on health and employment. It provides help up to the age of 25, meaning leaving the support network of care can be a gradual process.
Much better than the average
In 2015/16, 63% of our borough’s care leavers aged 19-21 were in education, employment or training, compared to averages of 49% nationally, and 54% in London. In addition, 20% of our young people leaving care were at university in the last academic year, as opposed to 6% nationally.
Councillor Binda Rai, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Like any parent, we are very proud of the continuing success of our 200 care leavers and 350 looked after children.
“We take our corporate parenting very seriously and support the children in our care with everything that any parent would do – providing a home, care, sharing our experience, helping with getting work, talking and consulting. And our fantastic foster carers are key in delivering such great results. But the partnership we have with our young people is undoubtedly the most important partnership of all, and their views, concerns and experiences directly advise elected members like me on what needs to change and improve. It is their views that underpin our successful, and award-winning, Brighter Futures programme that works to improve the life chances of local children, young people and families.
“The result of this is that we consistently have the highest number of care leavers at university, and the highest numbers of young people in employment, further education or training – something any parent would be rightly proud of.”
‘Nothing is too much trouble’
One 19-year-old recent care leaver, Nathan*, told us: “With the phenomenal support of my social worker I have achieved amazing things. I am a qualified boxing tutor, an ambassador for the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and a staff member for the Metropolitan Police Cadets.”
Another, 18-year-old Leanne*, said: “Ealing’s workers are awesome. Nothing is too much trouble – they really get how I feel and how things don’t always work out for me.”