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Care leavers

National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum release toolkit for Local Authorities

Top down view of a person working on multiple different pieces of paper and charts. Only their hands can be seen.

Catch22’s National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum has released the Care Leaver Local Offer Report, to support local authorities in raising the standard of provision across the country. The toolkit will be of interest to practitioners and policymakers and anyone with an interest in improving outcomes for care leavers.

Since the Children and Social Work Act (2017), Local Authorities have been required to develop a local offer for care leavers in partnership with young people. This Local Offer should inform care leavers about all support and services available to them, and covers both statutory entitlements and other discretionary support.

The Care Leaver Local Offer Project was commissioned to understand what areas of additional support are commonly included in these Local Offers, and to highlight the less common areas of support which benefit care leavers’ path to independence.

The project involved a survey with members, a systematic mapping of 20 local offers, discussions with the Young Peoples’ Benchmarking Forum (YPBMF) Champions and interviews with representatives from member Local Authorities. The result is today’s report and toolkit, distributed to NLCBF members.

Mark Riddell MBE, National Implementation Advisor for Care Leavers, Department for Education said:

“The National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum is instrumental in sharing the very best of practice among its members. This toolkit is a game changer. For the first time we’re able to systematically map what is offered to care leavers across the country.

“I now urge local authorities, partner organisations and young people themselves to use the toolkit to continue to raise the bar and provide the very best services for our care leavers.”

Sarah Wilkinson, Care Leavers Impact Lead and lead author for today’s report, says the report and accompanying toolkit will give Local Authorities the information and resources to produce robust offers and to raise the standard of support for care leavers nationwide:

“The local offer provides a pivotal opportunity for local authorities to bring together information about support for young people all in one place. It provides further impetus to engage partners and wider corporate parents to ask what more they can do to support care leavers. Through this project, we’ve seen good examples of this, such as ring-fenced apprenticeships for care leavers in the council and discounted water bills.

“Additional support in relation to helping care leavers access health services and supporting young people with relationships seemed to be patchier than other, more developed sections of local offers. We will use the evidence-based we’ve built to work with members, young people, the DfE and others to share promising practice so we can ensure the very best for our care leavers.”

Joe Shaw, Young People’s Benchmarking Forum Champion and Finance Officer, who authored a foreword in the report said:

“From what I’ve seen, local offers are looking good. Exemption for council tax, paying for young people’s passports, driving licence and driving lessons and in some places like Wigan, paying for prescriptions. These things set young people up to succeed.

“I hope that the Forum’s work can help with the postcode lottery of services for young people. Some councils have the resources to offer really good services and other councils who have less resources aren’t able to keep up. This only penalises young people.”

“My advice to local authorities is to work with young people to continue to improve the offer.”

The National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum is committed to supporting its members and young people with this work at the local level, while also engaging with national policy makers and partners to take forward the recommendations from this work. Catch22 and the NLCBF would like to thank all members and YPBMF champions who contributed this report, helping every local authority improve the standard of support they provide care leavers.