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Brent prioritises services for care leavers

Care leavers continue to be a council-wide priority in Brent, Ofsted has said.
A comprehensive local offer, together with strong corporate and political support and engagement with partners and the young people themselves, enables senior managers to focus on developing services to improve outcomes for care leavers.
"Senior managers know their services well and are addressing the areas of practice where improvement is required. A decline in performance in the care leavers’ service earlier in the year was identified by managers, and significant improvements have since been made," said the report following a monitoring visit in which inspectors looked at the local authority’s arrangements for care leavers.
Since the last inspection in May 2018, senior managers have worked hard to stabilise the workforce within the care leavers’ service. However, this has also led to some staff turnover, meaning that some care leavers have had several changes of worker.
Furthermore, the quality of case recording, especially in relation to visits to care leavers, pathway plans and supervision, is not consistent. Senior managers have ensured that training and support have been provided to staff, to further improve practice in these areas.
There is a strong focus on ensuring that care leavers access education, employment and training, and most care leavers receive help in developing skills to promote their independence. As a result, the majority of care leavers receive effective support that helps most of them to achieve positive outcomes. A large number of care leavers in Brent are unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people, and they receive timely and sensitive consideration of their needs.
Inspectors highlighted:
- Senior leaders are committed to improving outcomes for care leavers. They seek regular feedback from the young people to inform service development, through a range of activities.
- Strong partnerships with a range of partners, including housing and a co-located worker from the Department for Work and Pensions, help to ensure timely and flexible support and advice to young people.
- The majority of young people who spoke to inspectors reported positively about the quality of support and advice offered to them.
- Workers are able to articulate individual risks to care leavers, including those at risk of exploitation. However, risk assessment tools are not routinely used.
- There is a comprehensive quality assurance framework and a range of quality assurance activity, including a cross-departmental thematic audit process. However, care leavers are not routinely considered in all thematic audits.
- The vast majority of care leavers benefit from access to a range of suitable housing options, including ‘staying put’ with their carers when appropriate.
- Care leavers who are unaccompanied asylum seekers or refugees receive good support from their allocated workers, including help with understanding how to progress their applications to settle in the United Kingdom.
- The emotional and physical health needs of care leavers are well considered and well met.
- The majority of pathway plans are completed collaboratively with care leavers. This means that most care leavers are involved with and participate in planning for their futures.
- Staff have access to a wide range of induction and training opportunities.
However, management oversight and supervision vary in quality. Records do not always demonstrate consistent examples of reflective, analytical supervision and management oversight. Some supervision records do not provide sufficient clarity about the specific actions that staff need to complete, and by when, in order to improve outcomes for care leavers.
Brent should address the consistency in the timeliness and quality of pathway plans and improve case recording, including records of visits to care leavers, supervision and management oversight, and the management rationale for case closure.
Audit arrangements should consider the quality of work with care leavers and risk assessments need to articulate measures to address and minimise risk.
Focused visit to Brent local authority children’s services

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