The pace of change and progress at Nottinghamshire since the last inspection has not been sufficient to fully address capacity issues in the care leaving service or to ensure effective transition and support for all young people.
A focused Ofsted inspection on care leavers services found that children who leave care in Nottinghamshire benefit from advice and support from committed personal advisers. They also have access to dedicated achievement advisers to support their engagement with education, employment and training.
“Preparation for leaving care does not start early enough for most children,” the report warned. “A particular consequence of this is poorer outcomes for some young people with more complex needs. Senior leaders have a good understanding of the challenges of the services and have plans ready to address these.”
The inspection found:
- Children and young people’s needs are well assessed and understood.
- Care leavers are supported to give priority to identifying and addressing their health needs
- Where appropriate, children are enabled to ‘stay put’ with their foster carers beyond the age of 18.
- Children who meet the criteria for transition to adult services benefit from early planning to ensure that their needs are well considered as they become adults.
- A small number of care leavers take part in the recruitment of staff.
However, inspectors warn that high caseloads in both the looked after and care leaving service limit the time and support that can be offered to young people who have high needs. For most children, the transition and planning for adulthood and independence starts too late.
There is no dedicated support available for 16-and 17-year-old children in care who are not accessing education, employment or training to help them return to education or training before leaving care.
Older children in care and care leavers with complex needs, including poor mental health and substance abuse, are not always able to get the help they need, the report adds.
“The local authority has a good awareness of the challenges faced by the service, and its recently refreshed partnership strategy seeks to respond to these challenges,” the report concludes.