The National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum is a network of over 100 local authorities. Our aim is to enrich outcomes for our nation’s care leavers. The forum promotes the development of quality leaving care services with member authorities and partner organisations through a process of researching and sharing learning on a national scale.
The National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum aims to enrich outcomes for care leavers by:
- carrying out research to understand what works and what could be improved in leaving care services,
- facilitating events, with renowned key speakers at the forefront of the leaving care field, to share learning and improve practice,
- coordinating the Young People’s Benchmarking Forum, to ensure care- experienced young people feed into our activities,
- working with policy-makers in various government departments to feed in best practice and feedback from local authorities and young people,
- working alongside numerous partner organisations to keep updated about key developments and share learning about care leavers, and
- providing a website to enable access to resources, discussion groups, queries, events, Young People’s Benchmarking Forum updates.
“I love being a champion and involved with Young People’s Benchmarking Forum. It’s given me confidence and positive networks. Local authorities know my face and want to work with me.”
We follow our key values of:
- delivering a quality service,
- providing meaningful and valuable support to local authorities,
- being inclusive of all members and partner organisations, and
- sharing learning to impact outcomes.
Impact in 2019-2020
2019-2020 was a fantastic year for the National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum. We continued to build on our strengths, and looked ahead to develop our strategy for the next few years.
Establishing a new Stakeholder Group – in light of the increasing national visibility of care leavers and our ambitions, we strengthened our governance structure by establishing a Stakeholder Group comprising representatives from DfE, voluntary sector and research sector to help advise us at a strategic level.
Membership – we saw a significant increase in our membership numbers, from 105 up to 112.
Policy – our key themes for this year were exploitation, identity and direct work. We focused on policy updates and implications for practice and development in these areas at our events and through our resources.
Practice – we have contributed to better communication between prisons and local authority leaving care teams by co-delivering the annual HMPPS Care Experienced Conference. We attended international exchange programmes in Finland and the Young People’s Benchmarking Forum represented us at an international conference in Germany. We travelled to Berlin to deliver a workshop about the value of pathway planning to professionals and young people. We delivered training and consultancy to a range of organisations relating to pathway planning, preparing for independent living, and more.
Research – we were pleased to complete an important piece of research comparing member local offers, and providing members with a toolkit to help share learning and improve their local offers.
Events – we have delivered multiple events this year, ranging from themed events on identity and exploitation for frontline staff, three large conferences for Leaving Care service managers with over 100 attendees and four events for care leavers. We were delighted to host the first event specifically aimed at personal advisors, to offer them a chance to meet each other, compare practice and support their peers.
Young People’s Benchmarking Forum – the 2019 Care Leavers Celebration event was entirely led by care-experienced young people, who loved organising it all and seeing their impact! We are proud of our champions and sessional workers, who have come a long way in their personal and professional development. This has included care-experienced sessional workers giving evidence at select committees, being interviewed on Radio 4 and for The Times on Sunday.
Working in partnership
- Anne Longfield OBE, Children’s Commissioner attended one of our manager’s meetings. We submitted our ‘key asks’ to remove barriers and improve the lives of care leavers to the Commissioner.
- We attended round table events with Department for Work and Pensions, providing our feedback to influence implementation of specific support for care leavers claiming Universal Credit.
- Department for Education continued to contribute to our manager events enabling the forum to share practice and gather evidence to influence change on a national scale.
- We partnered once again with HMPPS to host the now annual conference focused on improving the experience for those care leavers in custody bringing together professionals from local authorities, voluntary partners and the prison estate.
Voice of the young person
Over the course of 2019-20 there have been a number of areas that YPBMF have been working with government departments and our partners on to ensure that care leavers’ voices and experiences are heard. This has included Victoria delivering a presentation with the Youth Advisory Group (part of the Youth Justice Board) to the Prime Minister and ministers at a cabinet meeting – a first for the forum. Later in the year Victoria addressed the Youth Justice Convention with Jasmine and Shianne with a YPBMF presentation which was well received by Charlie Taylor, Chair of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, and 500 youth justice professionals.
Ralph and Joe worked with Young Enterprise and the APPG on Financial Education to highlight the hardship and struggles that many care leavers face. Ralph went on to be interviewed on shows such as BBC Radio4 Money Box.
Ralph and Vicky have also been working in partnership with Ofsted to co-produce events exploring how care-experienced individuals can have more input into inspections and an inspection framework. We have been working with the DfE as part of a cross-departmental group to plan presentations for Ministers to increase understanding of care leavers concerns.
Aaron worked with the Department for Culture, Media and Sports to create an animation about the experience of Loneliness. Aaron was a special guest at the Premiere which took place at Leicester Square where he also took part in a Q&A with the Loneliness Minister.
“The National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum is instrumental in sharing the very best of practice among its members.”
– Mark Riddell MBE, National Adviser for Care Leavers
Our strategy for 2020-2023
Steering Group has worked hard to consider where we would like to go in the next few years, and how we want to create more positive impact. We have three key areas that we want to work on:
- Membership – continuing to maintain a quality offer to members, increasing our membership and ensuring that members have opportunities to feed into NLCBF activities.
- National influence – working with members, young people and partners to ensure NLCBF is a key influencer in the Leaving Care sector.
- Research – building a picture of best practice in leaving care services, sharing this information, and responding to gaps.
Key aims for 2020-2021
- Increase practitioner level engagement
- Include more care-experienced speakers at events and increase ‘creativity’ in our event delivery
- Improve our website and virtual offer, for live and on-demand content
- Develop our Young People Benchmarking Forum impact plan
- Build our external facing profile
- Improve networking with key stakeholders (e.g. Health)
“The event was a breath of fresh air and a platform to hear how other personal advisors are working and their experiences. It was very helpful to learn some new practices, which I will be sharing with managers and other colleagues.”
– A personal advisor attending one of our events