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Swindon makes progress in care leavers' services

Swindon children's services has made some progress for care leavers' services in most of the areas for improvement highlighted in the last inspection, Ofsted has said.

Senior leaders have a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses in the service, supported by the increasingly effective use of management and performance information, the focused visit to Swindon children’s services found.

"Changes to the organisation’s structure, the stabilisation of the senior leadership team and improved partnership working are starting to create the conditions in which good practice can flourish," said the report following the inspection where inspectors looked at the local authority’s arrangements for supporting care leavers.

Inspectors found:

- Care leavers in Swindon are supported by personal advisers and social workers who know them well and are helpful advocates for them.

- The majority of care leavers contribute to the development of their written pathway plan. However, in the current format, pathway plans are not meaningful enough for young people.

- Increasingly, the local authority takes the needs of young people into account when determining when case responsibility should transfer between the children looked after and care leavers teams.

- The ‘local offer’ for care leavers is well written and in accessible language.

- Care leavers benefit from a good range of education, employment and training (EET) opportunities.

- The health of care leavers is well considered by children looked after nurses who offer a service to care leavers up to the age of 25.

However, the sufficiency and suitability of accommodation for care leavers is a substantial challenge for Swindon. Currently, there is no bespoke accommodation available for care leavers; they access what is universally on offer to all young people andyoung adults. This means that not all care leavers move to independence at a pace that is right for them, some have limited choice about where they live or they live out of borough when they do not wish to, and others do not feel safe and secure where they live.

To improve practice, Swindon should improve the assessment of suitability and safety of accommodation for all care leavers and address the quality of pathway planning so that it is more meaningful for young people, fully considers risk and vulnerabilities and is used effectively to measure progress and the impact of intervention for care leavers.

Focused visit to Swindon Borough Council children’s services

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