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Care leavers' support at Redbridge is inconsistent

The quality of the support that care leavers receive in the London Borough of Redbridge is not consistent, Ofsted has said.

The service is delivered through a partnership arrangement, and since the last inspection in 2016, there have been significant gaps in management, which have impacted on service development and delivery.

"Managers have focused successfully on compliance issues, but there has not been a sufficient focus on quality. Although senior managers are aware of the areas which require improvement and have appropriate plans in place, there has been a lack of pace in implementing and embedding the changes," said the report.

Inspectors looked at the local authority’s arrangements for care leavers, most of whom are seen regularly by their personal advisers, who know them well. The majority of care leavers are in accommodation that meets their needs.

The report highlighted:

- Social workers and personal advisers work hard to support care leavers.

- Care leavers aged 16 and 17 receive good support from a dedicated worker who focuses on employment, education and training (EET).

- The authority is in touch with the majority of its care leavers. In response to the Children and Social Work Act 2017, staff informed all the care leavers under the age of 25 about their entitlement to receive a service.

- Most unaccompanied asylum-seeking children or refugees receive an appropriate level of support from their personal advisers and social workers.

- Care leavers in custody are supported effectively through regular visits.

However, the process for transferring young people to the care leavers’ service is not embedded in practice. There is no clear, coordinated pathway to help care leavers to develop independent living skills, and no specific programme in place.

There are no specific health resources targeted at care leavers and this is a gap in provision.  Arrangements for securing accommodation are not clear to young people and they are not sufficiently aware of the system and of the decision-making processes involved.

Ofsted recommends the London Borough of Redbridge improves the information provided to care leavers to explain their rights and entitlements, including access to accommodation. They should also improve the transition process leading up to young people leaving care.

The quality and timeliness of pathway planning needs focussing on as does access to health histories and support for emotional and mental health issues. The coordination of arrangements to develop independent living skills also needs improvement.

"Senior managers have a good understanding of the areas in the service that require further development. The pace of improvement now needs to accelerate to ensure that care leavers are able to make a successful transition to adulthood and independence," the report concluded.

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