Effective support for care leavers in Hammersmith and Fulham
Care leavers in Hammersmith and Fulham receive effective support that helps many of them to achieve good outcomes, Ofsted has said.
A focused visit to Hammersmith and Fulham children’s services which looked at the local authority's arrangements for care leavers found senior managers continue to be clearly focused on sustaining and improving outcomes for care leavers and are aware of the areas where improvement is needed.
"Highly skilled workers are persistent in engaging effectively with care leavers," said the report. "All care leavers, apart from those in prison custody, are in suitable accommodation, and the use of ‘staying put’ arrangements when they reach 18 years old is increasing."
Care leavers currently in custody are supported effectively. Their workers make sustained efforts to keep in contact, even when young people are not immediately receptive to such contact. Planning for each young person’s release is timely, with good partner agency communication and provision that reflects need.
Care leavers have good access to a range of local accommodation options, and receive prompt and flexible support and advice. Care leavers rarely have to wait for suitable accommodation.
Social workers and staff at the virtual school are energetic and aspirational for care leavers. There is a clear focus on efforts to engage young people in EET activities. Effective individual support, delivered through a range of initiatives by staff at the virtual school and the ‘looked after children assist’ project, enables many care leavers to access EET activities.
- Individual risks to care leavers, including those at risk of sexual exploitation, are clearly understood, and the necessary support is provided to reduce risks.
- Staff make significant and tenacious efforts to stay in touch with young people leaving care.
- Young people are encouraged to develop their independent living skills wherever they live.
- The physical and emotional health needs of care leavers are clearly identified and considered.
- Staff have access to a wide range of induction and training opportunities.
However, more needs to be done to increase the number of apprenticeships. Pathway plans vary in quality. While many pathway plans are good, some are not thorough enough, or they are not updated after significant changes in young people’s circumstances, and actions are not progressed in a timely way.
The recording of management oversight of casework is not sufficiently robust. Further, senior managers and leaders are not systematically capturing the views and experiences of care leavers to help to inform service improvements.
The report also found that case audits seen by inspectors did not sufficiently evidence the lived experience of care leavers or the impact of the work undertaken.
"Senior managers have a good understanding of the strengths in the service and are aware of the areas for further development. However, the service improvement plan needs to be strengthened to better articulate the actions proposed and the outcomes sought for care leavers," the report concluded.
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