Agenda item

Children's Looked After Pledge and Care Leavers Local Offer

To review Croydon’s proposals to strengthen its corporate parenting role through its commitment to children in care and its refreshed local offer for care leavers.


The Executive Director for Children Families and Education presented the report, during which the following was noted:


·         The Pledge was an overall commitment to Croydon’s children in care and leaving care population, which set out what the Council and its Partners had agreed to provide.

·         There had been a Local Offer in place in the past which was criticised as being vague and inconsistent in its application.

·         The proposed Pledge and Offer was still in the initial stages of development with further work needed before it launched including a greater analysis of the financial implications.

·         In drawing up the draft pledge, the department worked with Empire (Children in Care Council) as well as the Leaving Care Forum to gain insight on their historical experiences.


The Sub-Committee was given the opportunity to ask questions on the content of the report and the information provided during the presentation.


Concerns were raised that the pledge gave the impression that young people would be given anything they asked for and that some of the wording used may be misleading or interpreted in the wrong way. Officers highlighted that this Pledge was about rights and responsibilities, with social workers tasked with undertaking assessments and negotiating on an individual basis to reach an agreement with the young person on what was available and right for them. There would be an ongoing assessment process in place. The Commitments in the Pledge were intended to be broad to assist in identifying young people’s needs. Officers appreciated the feedback and comments and agreed to reflect on the broadness of the language used.


A Member suggested that additional thought should be given to how the Council could ensure that life events of its care leavers were celebrated. Officers agreed that this was an area of priority and as such had initiated a weekly open house dinner at the Turnaround Centre to enable young people to socialise. The cafeteria at BWH had also been booked for a Christmas dinner for this year.


In response to a question about the extent to which Children’s Services encouraged care leavers to maintain links, officers confirmed that care leavers were encouraged to maintain contact with their foster carers. Some opted to use the ‘staying put’ option and remained with the foster carers at a reduced rate until they were ready to live independently.


In response to a question about the affordability of care packages, it was highlighted that some things were currently being funded with extensive work due to be carried out with the finance department on the budget prior to the presentation of the paper to Cabinet.


To follow up it was asked if the amount allocated in the budget was likely to increase and whether the service could be deliverable within budget. It was advised that a contingency would be put in place to allow for overspend until the average spend could be realised over a number of years.


At the conclusion of this item the Chair thanked Officers for their attendance at the meeting and their engagement with the Sub-Committee’s questions.


The Sub-Committee came to the following Conclusions:


  • The decision to revive the Local Offer and Pledge for young people was welcomed and seen as a positive step towards addressing the inconsistencies in support for care leavers.


  • Further work was required on the paper before it was presented to the Cabinet to fine-tune the details of the Offer for young people.


  • It was important that careful consideration be given to the language used in order not to raise unrealistic expectations.


  • Further work was required to gain a greater understanding of the financial risks involved in the scheme to ensure that it was deliverable.



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