Children-in-care and care leavers services could come under council control
Gloucestershire County Council is proposing to bring youth support services for 11-24 year old children-in-care and care leavers back in-house.
At its meeting on Wednesday 30 January, the council’s cabinet will be asked to consider recommendations from a report that looks at how the council support children-in-care and care leavers in Gloucestershire to achieve their full potential.
Youth Support Services in Gloucestershire have been provided by Prospects on behalf of Gloucestershire County Council since 2008. Prospects deliver the 11-24 year old children-in-care and care-leaver function, as well as a wide range of statutory and other youth support services, such as youth offending, substance misuse, and NEET (“Not in Education, Employment, or Training”).
In that time the partnership has gone from strength to strength. Over the last 10 years Prospects has successfully brought in over £3.5m of additional funding to the council.
The Youth Support Options for 2020 report highlights the importance of closely aligning some elements of youth support services with other aspects of children’s social care.
The report recommends that the integration of social care services and teams will be beneficial for young people as it has the potential to reduce the number of social workers young people have over the time that they are in care, and could benefit young people’s development in many areas, including education, employment and training, physical and mental health, housing, and life skills – among others.
If agreed the changes will form part of the ongoing journey of improvement in children’s services.
The Youth Support Options for 2020 report recommends that:
- the 11-24 year old children-in-care and care-leaver function be brought under the control of the county council;
- the council make an arrangement with Prospects to extend the remaining period of the contract for a period of one year, until 31 March 2021 recognising the positive partnership that exists; and
- the council undertake a redesign of services for April 2021.
The report concludes that staffing costs would initially be similar, as the 70 social workers who manage cases for Prospects are already employed directly by the county council, and that a future redesign of the service could potentially reduce costs.
Cllr Richard Boyles, cabinet member for children and young people, commented: “The care journey for children and young people has been thoroughly reviewed and we believe that a united children’s social care service is the best option for the most vulnerable children and young adults in our county. The recommendations take into account that the Youth Strategy for Gloucestershire will be reviewed in early 2019 and allows for some flexibility following significant consultation and development periods.”
Alison Williams, Director of Children and Family at Prospects, said: “We are proud of the difference we make to young people in Gloucestershire through the services we provide for the county council. We have a positive relationship with the council and colleagues work in an integrated way across both organisations. The Youth Support Team works with approximately 6,000 vulnerable young people in the county, targeting specific groups who are most at risk of not making a successful transition into adulthood. We are delighted that our work in Gloucestershire will be extended for an additional year.”