Early in November, Ealing Council’s leaving care service had a visit from an Ofsted team of inspectors, which focused on the arrangements for care leavers.
The inspectors highly praised the service, highlighting a sustained focus on services for care leavers from senior managers, elected members and partners.
During the inspection they spoke with staff who work with care leavers, including leaving care workers, social workers and managers, and also to some care leavers themselves. They also reviewed all relevant performance and quality assurance information.
Care leavers described their care workers as caring and supportive. Inspectors also reported that the care workers’ creativity in maintaining contact and building their relationships with care leavers was a ‘strength of the service’.
‘Incredible group of young people’
Councillor Kamaljit Nagpal, the council’s cabinet member for a fairer start, said: “We take our responsibility as corporate parent to these young people who come into our care very seriously. Providing support, encouragement and opportunities, as any parent does, so the children in our care get the best start to their adult lives they can.
“Our care leavers are an incredible group of young people who inspire all those that know them on a daily basis. Their ambitions are truly impressive – we have young people studying to be everything from pilots to social workers, teachers to lawyers, actors to engineers.
“We have young people campaigning for the rights of care leavers, co-chairing Corporate Parent Panels and chairing Equalities Monitoring Groups in the leaving care service.
“The excellent work of our care team has been rightly recognised by the inspectors and I thank them for their dedication to the young people they work with.”
Other key findings of the Ofsted inspectors’ report included:
- A dedicated and passionate workforce, who support care leavers to make progress and to have a positive experience in their lives
- A comprehensive local care leaver offer underpinned by effective strategic partnership working including the Horizons Centre for aftercare support
- Despite youth unemployment trebling across the borough during the pandemic, care leavers have continued to be supported to achieve in education, employment and training, which is testament to the strategic partnership working both inside and outside the council
- The health needs of care leavers are well considered and specialist provision is identified when required
- Leaving care workers are able to seek consultation with in-house psychology services, or can directly refer care leavers to psychological input if needed
- Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and those seeking asylum receive a high quality service with senior managers and care workers having a good understanding of the needs and risks for this group of children
- Senior managers and staff at all levels demonstrate an overarching commitment to promoting equality and inclusion for all care leavers
- Care leavers in custody received ongoing support, with pathway plans in place and a focus on planning for when they are released from custody
- There is significant liaison between housing and the care leavers’ service and care leavers receive pre-tenancy training to ensure they are ready for housing commitments and receive a range of financial support to secure tenancies. This results in a very low number of care leavers presenting as being at risk of losing their tenancy.
- Pathway plans for young people are well-written and co-produced with young people. The inspectors noted there was sometimes a need for greater consistency in how these plans are updated when circumstances change, and the service will work to ensure this happens.