Briefing - achievement of children in care and care leavers

What Ofsted says:

“Education is promoted for children in care and they are well supported by the virtual school which is committed to the best possible educational outcomes for North Yorkshire children…Children are achieving and the outcomes for most children looked-after are improving, ensuring they are not disadvantaged by being looked after.  The local authority is aspirational as a corporate parent and the achievements of children in care are celebrated….

“Inspectors saw highly effective work, ensuring that care leavers were assisted to realise their potential at a pace that was right for them, and enabling them, to access positive opportunities.”

Read more below.

The county council currently supports around 350 care leavers.

Each young care leaver has a Leaving Care Case Worker who ensures that the best package of support is provided. These workers are supported by colleagues with a number of different specialisms, including Opportunity Brokers, who are employed to ensure that care leavers are encouraged and supported to achieve and maximise educational and employment opportunities, as well as support them in developing their interests that they may not have had the chance to do before. 

North Yorkshire was one of the first pilot authorities to introduce the Staying Put scheme in 2008 and is recognised as a beacon of good practice across the UK. The authority enables young people in care to remain with foster families at a critical time in their lives until the age of 21 and to be supported by the leaving care team through education and training until aged 25.

Following the success of the pilot, Staying Put is now funded by the government, which pledged £40m over three years in 2014 for the plan, which has been described by children’s charities as “the most significant reform for children in care in a generation”.  

North Yorkshire has almost 65% of its care leavers in education, training and employment, in a variety of different environments, from apprenticeships to further education and full-time employment.

Fourteen care leavers attended university during the last academic year, and from September a similar number of care leavers will be enrolled at various universities within the UK, including Aberystwyth and Northumbria.

All young people in care who attend university get a package of financial support from the County Council amounting to £9,000 over three years, over four times the amount offered in many other authorities.  This financial support, despite the fact the council has made huge savings, (one third of its budget by 2020) is a sign of North Yorkshire’s commitment to support young people in care into higher education.

Kate Barraclough, a manager in North Yorkshire’s Leaving Care Service said: “Our ethos is that we don’t want our young care leavers to be facing major milestones on their own – like turning up to halls of residence for the first time – unless they want to.  They know the support is there when they need it.  We have a very committed team. We want the young people in our care to achieve the best they can and that means giving them the right support at the right time.  The nature of the support we give enables many of our care leavers to do very well and we are very proud of them.”

Rachel Malik has landed her dream job after completing a highly competitive scholarship from the Chinese Government to study for a Masters degree in World Economics and Chinese Economic Development. Only 95 scholarships were handed out globally.

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Prior to heading out to Beijing Rachel was funded for a summer placement by the British Council to study social entrepreneurship and social change in New Delhi.

Rachel, 23, who took up the Masters scholarship after graduating from the University of Birmingham in Economic and Social History, came into the care of North Yorkshire County Council aged 8 and has faced some very challenging times.  

Nevertheless, as a young teenager she developed a deep interest in banking and world economic affairs.

Indeed, Rachel has garnered a long line of impressive awards and internships since the age of 17.  After gaining her GCSEs she was selected to take part in JP Morgan’s Aspiring Professionals Programme in 2012. In 2015 she gained a summer internship at Silicon Valley Bank in 2015. 

She also reached the top ten this year in the Undergraduate of the Year: Future Business Leader Award 2016.  This led to a prestigious award ceremony at Canary Wharf, London and accolades from Fiona Bruce, leading TV commentator and presenter.

“From the age of 14, when other teenagers were reading style magazines I was reading The Economist,” said Rachel.  “I’ve always been interested in the financial world and now I’m particularly interested in start-up company investment.  Nevertheless, I couldn’t have got this far without the support of my care workers from the County Council; they have been with me every step of the way.

“My care workers supported me through all the ups and downs at school; my leaving care worker, Mandy Buckle, came with me before I started at university to help me find accommodation and help me settle in.  She has always been on the end of a phone. When I got news of my scholarship from China, the first thing I did was phone Mandy. The County Council extended my funding to help me get through my finals.  The help has always been there. They really care about you and you feel that.

“When I was in China they helped to fund Mandarin lessons as long as I would match fund it.  They realised how crucial it would be for me, how it would help me stand out from the crowd when going for a job.  And it did; I’ve got one of only two positions in the whole of the UK, and all the way along Mandy was there encouraging me, assuring me that I was on the right path.  

“I can’t imagine that contact going away.  Now I like to think that I can give something back by supporting the service in the future.”

Cake-baking Sasha, 25, from Pickering, was enabled by the county council to pitch her idea for a business before a panel of business leaders from the region’s Local Enterprise Partnership.  

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The Meet-the-Dragons event at Gray’s Court Hotel, York, earlier this year came about when Sasha, a former care leaver, who has always wanted to set up her own business, turned to North Yorkshire County Council for help.

Inspired by her gran whose pet name was Nula, Sasha, who has a five year old son Alfie, is hoping to run “the ultimate sweet-treats” artisan business called Nula’s Fancies, from a specially bespoke van travelling around markets and festivals. 

Using locally-sourced, organic products she aims to sell homemade American-style pancakes, cakes, bakes, pastries and hot and cold drinks. In the long run she dreams of turning it into a franchise to help care leavers in the industry. 

Realising there are others like Sasha with entrepreneurial ideas, the County Council’s new Leaving Care Opportunities Team, pressed on with finding help and joined forces with the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership to find mentors in the local business community. 

It was decided that following the care leavers pitch of their business ideas, the mentors would offer their skills and expertise to make sure the venture is viable, support care leavers to create a business plan and apply for funding if required. 

Sasha said: “I am doing this for my little boy and to show him that you can make a success of your life no matter what.  I am so happy to have the support of the dragons with their advice and contacts. The thought of presenting to them was nerve-racking but I prepared myself well. Most of all I want to tell everyone like myself to keep going and never give up.”

The County Council hopes the event will encourage other care leavers who are thinking of setting up their own business, but are not sure where to go for help. It is offering a discretionary payment of up to £2,500 per applicant for start-up costs, in consultation with mentors, for ideas that are taken forward. 

“As a local authority, acting as corporate parents we are here to help these young people achieve in a way that works for them,” said Stuart Carlton, Director of the Children and Young People’s Service, who attended the event. “Within just half an hour it became clear that the Dragons questions and advice was invaluable. With their further mentoring, who knows what else can be achieved. With the right support, the sky is the limit.”

The Dragons were all board members of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which helps unlock growth in the local economy and regards the scheme as an opportunity to share its expertise and help everyone reach their full career potential.

Picture shows Sasha pitches her cake-baking business Nula’s Fancies to panel of Dragons (first row left to right) David Dickson, Lady Jane Gibson, Dr Ruth Smith and Colin Mellors with (back row left to right) Stuart Carlton, Vicky Metheringham and Martin Kelly from the County Council Children and Young People’s Service.