Agenda item

Progress Update - Scrutiny Review of Care Leavers EET


Consideration was given to the assessments of progress on the implementation of the recommendations from the Committee’s previously completed review of Care Leavers EET. This was the third progress update following the Committee’s agreement of the Action Plan in September 2021, with developments in relation to the three outstanding agreed actions noted as follows:

• Recommendation 2 (Redefines its approach and commitment to getting a young person in care or leaving care into education, employment or training by retraining and refocusing the workforce): Action considered fully achieved. Progression Advisers work with Personal Advisers to seek opportunities regarding EET, with the latter continuing to take on the lead professional role for care leavers. Those young people who need most support could now be identified.

Referencing the previous update on progress, Members queried whether the percentages quoted in February 2023 for young people moving towards EET had changed, and how many individuals this involved. Officers reported that the figures remained broadly similar to date, with around 33 individuals aged 17-18 years (67%), and around 68 individuals aged 19 years (66%). It was also noted that, by the end of November 2023, confirmation of the status of all care leavers should be known in terms of whether they are in education, employment, or training (or none of these).

• Recommendation 6 (Has a corporate commitment to creating a sustainable model to increase access to work experience and apprenticeship opportunities within SBC for young people leaving care): Action considered fully achieved. Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council (SBC) would continue to review and evaluate its approach around care leavers obtaining employment within the Council itself, and examples of young people successfully gaining apprenticeships, qualifications and, in the case of one individual, a full-time role were testament to the progress made on increasing access to opportunities. Encouragingly, young people were reporting that the opportunity provided had allowed them to create some stability, focus and drive towards improving their aspirations.

The Committee asked if, as potential advocates for the aim to increase access to opportunities for care leavers, those young people who had completed a work placement / apprenticeship with the Council were asked to get involved in the recruitment process for others. Officers stated that whilst not formally part of subsequent recruitment, care leavers who had experienced opportunities within SBC were consulted in relation to the support they had received in the past, and any learning (e.g. how any issues were managed during a placement) was incorporated into plans for the next cohort. Some had also come forward to assist with the interviews for the SBC Director of Children Services replacement and had provided positive contributions towards other Council initiatives.

Despite the small number of care leavers who had benefitted (two within Children’s Services and one within Community Services, Environment and Culture (Care For Your Area)) / were due to benefit (two within Children’s Services) thus far, Members were encouraged by progress around this recommendation, particularly given the fact that there were often complex circumstances involved. Building self-esteem / self-value was a crucial by-product of providing such opportunities.

• Recommendation 7 (Has a Borough-wide commitment to creating a sustainable model to increase access to work experience and job opportunities with local employers and partner agencies for young people leaving care through the creation of a dedicated brokerage resource which will focus on pro-actively finding, placing and maintaining young people in education, employment and training): Progress was ongoing but further work was required at a corporate level to ensure there was commitment across all directorates to provide opportunities. Children’s Services had the evidence of how this had been successful, and this needed to be used as the blueprint across the Council.

Reflecting on the overall update, the Committee enquired as to how the current situation regarding care leavers within EET compared to historical figures. Officers responded that, for school years 12-14 (16-19-year-olds), around 5% of care experienced young people were not in EET (NEET). Care leavers were given an increased level of input from Council services until the end of year 14 (more information on this could be provided if desired), though officers were careful to ensure that such young people were not being pushed into anything they were not ready for.

AGREED that the Care Leavers EET progress update be noted.

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