Care leavers in County Durham are bettering the national average in finding education, work or training, councillors will hear next week.
Durham County Council’s Cabinet received the annual report of the authority’s Corporate Parenting Panel for 2018/19 at its meeting held on Wednesday 11th September.
The report is the second produced by the panel and like the first was put together with the help of young people from the local authority’s Children in Care Council.
It sets out how in 2017/18 82 per cent of County Durham care leavers aged 17 to 18 were in education, employment and training (EET), in comparison to the England average of 64 per cent and the statistical neighbour rates of 64 per cent.
For care leavers aged 19 to 21, 59 per cent were in EET, compared to the England average of 51 per cent and the statistical neighbour rates of 58 per cent.
The report also sets out how 96 per cent of care leavers aged 17 to 18 were in suitable accommodation, above the national rate of 84 per cent and the statistical neighbour rates of 89 per cent.
By March of this year 94 per cent of care leavers aged 19 to 21 were in suitable accommodation, above the national rate of 84 per cent and the statistical neighbour rates of 89 per cent.
As of the end of March this year, the council was keeping in touch with 100 per cent of 17 to 18 year old care leavers and 95 per cent of 19 to 21 year olds.
The report also sets out how at the end of March this year, 79 per cent of the council’s looked after children were in foster care rather than in other types of accommodation.
In 2017-2018 the authority approved 26 new foster carers.
The panel’s report also reveals how 92 per cent of young people were found placements within County Durham at the end of last year. By the end of March this year, 86.6 per cent of looked after children under the age of 16 were living in the same placement for at least two years.
The report also sets out how the council’s Drive Project provides funding for driving lessons, a theory and practical test for looked after young people over the age of 17 and care leavers for whom the authority is responsible. Ten young people taking part passed their theory test and six their practical test.
Furthermore, it tells how the council’s Supporting Solutions service worked with 107 young people ‘on the edge of care’ and as a result of offering crisis and intensive interventions, 100 young people remained in their family/living arrangements.
The report also reveals how 92.5 per cent of parents answered ‘great’ or ‘good’ when asked how well the council’s Aycliffe Secure Centre was looking after their child.
One hundred per cent of parents/carers stated that they had noticed positive changes in their child since coming to Aycliffe.
The Corporate Parenting Panel’s role is to:
• Ensure the council acts as a good corporate parent to children and young people in care and care leavers.
• Engage and listen to the views of children, young people and their carers for whom the council is the parent.
• Work in partnership with other statutory agencies to drive forward improvements in care.
• Act as the governing body for the Virtual School for looked after children and young people.
• Act as the governing body for Aycliffe Secure Services, monitoring and ensuring the quality of secure accommodation.
As well as outlining achievements and key performance data, the annual report details priorities for 2019/20 and changes made as a result of the ‘You Said – We Did’ consultation with young people.
Cllr Olwyn Gunn, the council’s Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “We are so proud of the children in our care and our care leavers, in terms of everything they achieve.
“It is brilliant to hear so many success stories across the services we deliver, be that our care leavers performing above the national average in terms of being in education, employment and training or our success in finding foster care places for almost 80 per cent of children.
“The fact 100 per cent of parents and guardians at Aycliffe Secure Centre noticed positive changes in their children is also proof that the hard work and dedication of management and staff there really is paying off.”
Cllr Peter Brookes, chairman of the Corporate Parenting Panel, said: “We take our role as a corporate parent, looking after the children and young people in our care, extremely seriously.
“We are furthermore delighted to have once again worked with the young people from the Children in Care Council to prepare our annual report, following the positive feedback to their involvement last year.
“Their input really is all about making sure the child’s voice is reflected in the panel’s work and I’d like to thank them for their passionate contributions.”