We provide the same sort of support to our care leavers that most young people would expect to receive from a reasonable parent.
We will also offer support to other local authorities' care leavers living in our area, so long as it is compatible with our duties and functions.
We have signed up to the government's care leavers' charter which serves as a set of promises to care leavers.
The majority of care leavers are entitled to a leaving care case worker, an assessment of needs and the preparation of a pathway plan, which should be reviewed as required and at least every six months. The few care leavers who are not entitled to a leaving care case worker or a pathway plan may still be entitled to assistance from us.
Support to care leavers is usually provided up until the age of 21 and up to 25 if the young person is in education or training or if they request further support.
All our care leavers have access to an independent advocacy service.
We have four locality team based around the county in Scarborough, Knaresborough, Selby and Northallerton. Our leaving care service has workers from a range of different backgrounds who work together to ensure the best support possible can be given to the young person. Leaving care case workers, who will be the named worker when the social worker is no longer involved, will usually begin to get involved with the young person when they are 17 and a half years old.
We encourage our young people to stay looked after for as long as possible. Young people who are in foster care may, with the agreement of their foster carers, remain with previous foster carers in a 'staying put' arrangement until they reach 21.
The pathway plan sets out how we will prepare and support care leavers in their transition to adulthood. In law, a looked after child should have a pathway plan prepared no later than three months after they are 16. The child's social worker should complete an assessment and prepare the plan, which should include contingency arrangements to provide suitable accommodation.
The following needs should be taken into account when developing the plan:
- health and development;
- education, training and employment;
- emotional and behavioural development;
- family and social relationships;
- preparing for independent living;
- financial arrangements; and
Where it is safe to do so, we will help care leavers maintain relationships with family and friends. We use specialist life-long links workers to help facilitate this if required.
We have high aspirations for all young people leaving care. Our care leavers who apply for a county council apprenticeship will automatically be selected for interview, as long as they meet the job specification criteria. In line with the government's care leaver strategy, we will support care leavers to access benefit claims and work programmes through the Jobcentre Plus offices in North Yorkshire.
We work with a range of partners to deliver services to care leavers. This includes working with housing authorities in North Yorkshire to give priority to any care leaver bidding for social housing. There are robust arrangements in place giving priority to secure accommodation and support for those care leavers who are not yet ready to manage their own accommodation.