New guidance outlining how social workers and other professionals should support children in care and care leavers has been published by the Department for Education.
The two documents focus on supporting the education of children in care and previously looked-after children, and how extending personal advisers up to 25 for care leavers should be implemented in line with the Children and Social Work Act 2017.
Key duties for professionals involved with these groups of children and young people are outlined in the guidance, as the government announced extra funding for the implementation, and money for new projects for care leavers.
For looked-after children in schools, the new guidance said: “Social workers, [Virtual School Heads], [Independent Reviewing Officers], school admission officers, and Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) departments should work together to ensure that, except in an emergency, appropriate education provision for a child is arranged at the same time as a care placement.”
It also added that Virtual School Heads, who are in charge of promoting the educational achievement of looked-after children, should ensure that appropriate training needs for professionals responsible for promoting young people’s education are met.
Nadhim Zahawi, children’s minister, said the government would increase funding for the Personal Adviser extension to over £12 million by 2021, and would provide £7 million a year until 2020 for the extension of the Virtual School Heads scheme.
Zahawi said the government was making “great strides” with the support available to children leaving care.
“As part of this we have changed the law to require councils to publish a local offer for care leavers and extend personal adviser support to all care leavers to age 25,” he said.
It was also announced today that the government would invest £5 million into social impact bonds for care leavers. The funding through the new projects will be targeted in Bristol, Sheffield and Lewisham, and aim to support care leavers to stay in education or transition in to employment or training.
Spectra First was also announced as the delivery partner for the Care Leaver Covenant, which sets out the entitlements of care leavers in law, and will encourage private and voluntary organisations to sign up and offer ways to help care leavers with the challenges faced in transitioning to independence.
Zahawi said: “Leaving care can be difficult and we want to improve the support available to these young people so they are not navigating life’s milestones alone. The programmes we are announcing today will help care leavers make the transition to adulthood more smoothly, improving the opportunities available to them whether in education, employment or training.”