Significant changes have been made by the council to improve the lives of care-experienced young people in North Lanarkshire.
The approach ensures that services are co-ordinated and adapted to provide support instead of expecting existing arrangements to meet the needs of care-experienced people.
And the council's commitment to improving the wellbeing, opportunities and longer-term outcomes for care-experienced young people is making good progress according to a recent report.
Traditionally young people who have experienced gaps in support as they move from childhood to adulthood can face additional challenges compared with their peers such as accessing information on entitlements, housing and education.
By listening to young people’s direct experiences and giving them responsibility to change aftercare services, the new approach is starting to make a difference.
Councillor Frank McNally, Convener of Education and Families, explains: “In 2020 we established a group to set out ways we could improve access to help, practical and emotional support for care-experienced young people.
“This group included a number of care-experienced young people who have since begun working with us to improve the way public organisations, like the council, deliver our vital services.
“A key finding of the review was to co-ordinate services around young people rather than expecting them to fit into systems which don’t suit their needs and circumstances.”
Dylan Duff, Development Worker with the council added: “After care is really important and we're committed to ensuring that care leavers get a whole host of supports just like a parent would provide. As corporate parents it is our duty to ensure that they have the right support, at the right time by the right person.
“Knowing from personal and other people’s experiences, we aim to make the transition out of care as smooth as possible. We want to ensure that if a care leaver needs support that they know exactly how and where to access it.”
The improvement plan focused on two areas: support for care leavers in transition from care and the development of an aftercare hub where care leavers can continue to access support.
The activities to meet the recommendations of the review include:
- Appointment of new social workers to extend support including at weekends and in the evenings.
- Creation of a Housing Operations Group for care leavers who need support to establish and maintain a stable and secure home.
- Support for employability programmes.
- Improved access to advice on financial support available – including the care experienced bursary.
- New approaches to support young people maintain or re-establish relationships with brothers, sisters, extended family or other key people in their lives
Future plans include working with NHS Lanarkshire to improve health advice; promotion of the hub services; better use of information to identify gaps and improve outcomes; improving positive destinations and support for health and wellbeing.
The report Keeping the Promise – Care Foundation, Aftercare Developments was presented to the Education and Families Committee on Tuesday 23 November 2021.