In Calderdale 154 young people are looked after when they leave care by the Calderdale Leaving Care Service. The Service is a partnership between Calderdale Council and Prospects, the education, employment and skills company.
Young people leaving care are one of the most vulnerable groups in our society. Action for Children report care leavers are three times more likely to be cautioned or convicted of an offence, four times more likely to have a mental health disorder, five times less likely to achieve five good GCSEs, eight times more likely to be excluded from school and less likely to go to university.
In Calderdale we are reversing these trends.
The Service provides a team of pathway advisers and social workers providing leaving care and statutory social worker support for Looked After Children aged 15 and a half until they are 21, or they are 25 if they are in education, in Calderdale. Care leavers need support on a range of issues including accommodation, financial support, entry into employment or training, offending and emotional wellbeing. To help the young people leaving care, after having been looked after by the Council, a Care Leavers Pledge is in place.
The Pledge is our commitment to the young people who are supported by the Prospects Pathways service and is at the heart of our working ethos. The Pledge includes a guarantee that all adults that work with care leavers will take responsibility to make sure they are safe, healthy and achieving their goals. It sets out a number of aims, such as keeping in regular touch, involving them in decisions and taking their wishes and feelings in consideration, helping them get a good education and a good job, staying healthy and happy and providing financial support throughout their education.
For Jack* the Pledge ensured he was able to follow his dream and go to university. Jack achieved a first in Mathematics at university, but found, like many young graduates, that getting into work without work experience was difficult. The Council, like any good parent, wanted to help Jack get a good job, and set about ensuring he got work experience in different departments across the Council. Jack now has that critical work experience to help him go on and further his career.
The service currently support 154 young people, 19 of them are currently studying at higher education. Two young graduates, who have been supported by the Service, will be recognised next month in a ceremony hosted by Calderdale’s Mayor, Councillor Lisa Lambert, at the Town Hall in Halifax.
Simon Goulding of the Leaving Care Service said: “We are very proud to see two of our care leavers achieve their degrees and receive a presentation from the Mayor. Emily will achieve her degree in Child and Family Studies from York University and Simone receives her PGCE from Edge Hill Teacher Training College before starting her new job as a PE teacher in Dubai in August.”
Cllr Megan Swift, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services, said:
“We want our young people in care and leaving care to achieve their very best in life. We provide a wide range of services, information and support to help them make the right choices and succeed. That can include advice on anything from accommodation and budgeting to health and employment. We are proud to offer opportunities such as work experience within the Council, and have recently committed to providing more apprenticeships for young people in care and leaving care.
“It’s great to see our care leavers doing so well and we look forward to celebrating their achievements at next month’s graduation ceremony.”
Successfully ensuring their young people are getting the best chances in life has led to the Service achieving some of the best NEET rates in the country for Looked After Children. Of the current caseload only 18.6% are not in education, employment or training against a national average of 37%. Additionally, the NEET rate of 18.6% includes care leavers with children aged under two, if these are excluded, and many of us consider being a parent a full time commitment, the rate reduces to only 11.3%, over three times better than the national average.
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Notes to Editor
About Calderdale Leaving Care Service
Prospects’ Leaving Care Service ensures that young people who are looked after by Calderdale Council and who leave care, have their needs assessed and have appropriate plans in place. Calderdale Council awarded the contract to Prospects in 2011.
The Prospects Group is a dynamic and enterprising organisation providing a wide range of education, employment and skills services in the UK and internationally. At the heart of what we do is the drive to improve the life chances, skills and aspirations of everyone we support. Each year we support more than 500,000 young people and adults.
For more information please visit: www.prospects.co.uk
Alona de Havilland
0779 080 3882