A visit to the panto where they met members of the cast rounded off a big day for looked after children, their carers and care leavers who spent time discussing their hopes for the future.
The group of young people looked after by North Yorkshire County Council and their carers went to see Cinderella at the Grand Opera House in York after spending the morning with members of the looked after and leaving care service, virtual school staff and participation officers. They talked about what more the the local authority can do to ensure they are aspirational and ambitious for this group of young people and are helping them to achieve their goals.
The council acts as ‘corporate parents’ for all the children it looks after, which means it is responsible for all aspects of a young persons’ development. The recently launched strategy for looked after young people ‘We care because you matter’, written in partnership with young people and their carers, outlines how the council will deliver the seven corporate parenting principles in the Children and Social Work act 2017.
County Councillor Janet Sanderson, executive member for children and young people’s service said: “As corporate parents, we try to ensure our looked after young people feel listened to and valued. We arrange regular informal get togethers, called ‘C-days’, where they can meet their peers and give us feedback or talk about where we can help.
“Hopefully they will have fun at the same time. The pantomime was a great chance for everyone to get together and relax, at what can be a stressful time of year.”
One of the most important areas of support for looked after young people is the ‘virtual school’, which is responsible for their academic achievement. Although the children attend many different schools and settings, the virtual school tracks each pupil and their progress, and works alongside teaching staff who are with the young person on a daily basis.
Virtual school head Julie Bunn said: “We asked for feedback around education and training and how virtual school can support children and foster carers. We asked what is working well, what we are worried about and what would we like to see in the future, before the children made Christmas decorations and headed off to enjoy the panto.
"It was good to hear that foster carers think that the virtual school team is effective and that we are quick to respond and know the children well."
The council’s strategy for looked after children and care leavers can be found at https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/we-care-because-you-matter