Members received an update from three young people on their experience of being looked-after by Harrow Council and receiving leaving care services. The Head of Corporate Parenting asked them to share their experiences, what could be learnt from those experiences and any suggestions as to what could be done differently or better in the future.
One of the young people reported that he had received quite a lot of support whilst moving on from CLA, first on independent living and then after a year or so into a Council flat. The good advice and support was ongoing including a personal assistant for regular contract regarding any queries such as tenancy support. He was grateful that Council tax was paid on his behalf until 25 years of age. In response to a question from the Advisory Member as to support from foster carer, he stated that it had been absolutely fantastic and that he was still in touch.
He further stated that, as the transition from CLA to semi-independent and then to full independence were key moments and timings were important, the young person should be able to take more of a lead in setting out the timetable rather than it being based on age. In his experience there was sometimes pressure to take the next steps earlier than he would have wished and he had encountered pushback from the managers of his Social Worker. The Interim Corporate Director, People, stated that there was a need to learn from his experience and that it was important that personal plans were based around individuals so they felt that their feelings were incorporated.
In addition, he stated that when he contacted his social worker on her return from maternity leave he was informed that she had been told not to contact her previous cases and could not receive her caseload back. This had upset him as this meant that his former social worker was unable to see his flat despite visiting a young person in the flat below. The Interim Corporate Director, People stated that continuing positive relationships was important and that he would take the matter up with the managers concerned.
Another of the young people informed the Panel that, during his 11 months in Harrow, the social worker had helped him with schools, improving his English, and housing. He was hoping to study A levels the following year. The Virtual School had been helpful and had made a difference
The third young person had been in Harrow for nearly four months. The social worker had provided him with a lot of support.
The young people were asked regarding their aspirations and how they could be supported. It was further asked whether an element of independent support as a bouncing board to air their needs would be helpful. The young people responded as follows:
l It would be helpful to have such an advocate. Coming out of the pandemic, now was the first opportunity to really relax, he was enjoying his job and had settled into his flat. His long term aim was to buy his flat through Right to Buy.
l He wanted to become a doctor so would be looking at exams and to work a little before starting university.
l His aim was to enrol in Harrow College to study computer studies. In response to a question he stated that he had been supplied with a laptop.
In response to a question from a Member of the Panel, the Interim Corporate Director, People stated that an update item containing feedback on the points raised by the young people would be submitted to the Panel. In addition, the Head of Corporate Parenting undertook to circulate an update on the points raised regarding personal plans being based around the individual and contact with the social worker after her return from maternity leave. The young people would also be updated. The Chair stated that it was critical to ensure that the young people attending Panel meetings were aware of follow through.
On behalf of the Panel, the Chair thanked the three young people for their participation and sharing their experiences and suggestions.
RESOLVED: That the update be noted.