Slough council and the independent trust that runs its children’s services are making “promising progress” in improving support for care leavers, Ofsted has found.
Inspectors rated the town’s care leaver services as ‘inadequate’ in 2016, warning the support on offer was “disjointed” and left some young people without meaningful contact from social workers or personal advisors for up to 10 months .
A report published today on a follow-up monitoring inspection found a “substantial shift” in services had led to improvements, albeit from a “very low base”.
Inspectors found a care panel set up by senior managers helped agree improved packages of support, particularly for young people who had previously received “very poor” care. Personal advisor caseloads had been reduced from over 60 to around 20 since the introduction of care leavers’ hubs in October 2016. Advisors saw young people at least once every six weeks.
There had been a “marked” improvement in senior leaders’ shared commitment to care leavers, Ofsted found. However, problems recruiting personal advisors had led to delays in improving frontline practice, with most positive changes only happening in the three months before Ofsted’s visit.
Some work with care leavers still “lacks purpose”, Ofsted found, adding: “…this is linked to supervision that does not always consider the help and support that young people need or why. An incomplete understanding of some young people’s histories or their complex needs reduces the effectiveness of the support that they receive.”
Data provided by the council indicated more care leavers were living in appropriate accommodation, and bed and breakfasts were not used. But Ofsted said partnership working needed to improve between children’s services, health and adults services.
“For example, it has taken too long to develop a document for recording and sharing care leavers’ health histories. Access to health advice and support for care leavers is inconsistent,” wrote Stephanie Murray, the inspector who led Ofsted’s visit.
“The involvement of adult services with those young people who meet the threshold for this support is too often reactive rather than central to their plans. This reduces the ability of PAs to understand and plan to meet the complex needs of young people. A transitions policy is in place, and the care leavers’ service and adult services now need to ensure that it is consistently applied.”