Enhancing opportunities for young people
20 November 2012
Hampshire County Council has welcomed the Government's pledge to do more to improve opportunities for young people leaving care.
Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson recently announced that the Government aimed to build on the From Care 2 Work programme, working with employers, local authorities and the voluntary sector to create more opportunities for young people in care ranging from work placements and taster days through to apprenticeships. He also urged local authorities to sign up to a Care Leavers' Charter drawn up by the Department for Education with young people who have experienced being in care.
Responding to the Minister's announcement Councillor Roy Perry, the Executive Lead member for Children's Services said the County Council was already leading the way with support for young people in its care and those leaving the care of the local authority. He said:
"Like any good parent the County Council is always seeking ways to enhance the support we give the young people in our care and those leaving care to improve their life chances and employment prospects.
"One of the things the Minister is advocating is for more authorities to operate a Staying Put policy which supports young people leaving care in suitable accommodation. I am pleased to say that Hampshire already does this.
"The Council already has its own Children in Care Pledge. Developed in conjunction with young people in Hampshire's care it has been in place for the past four years. Like the Government's proposed Care Leavers' Charter Hampshire's Pledge puts young people in the care of the authority at the heart of our services, ensuring their voice is heard.
"We continue to consult with young people in our care so they can help us shape care services- something Ofsted highlighted during their inspection of services for children in care in Hampshire. We are not complacent and we remain ambitious for all the young people in our care.
"The County Council already takes part in the From Care 2 Work programme and has led in this area creating its own Internship Plus scheme. This year the Full Council agreed a proposal from the Leader of the Council, Councillor Ken Thornber, to make permanent its pilot initiative offering young care leavers internships. This provides opportunities for paid work placements within the County Council as well as opportunities to access relevant qualifications. Fifteen young people are currently taking part in the scheme."
Councillor Thornber said:
"As corporate parents we were particularly keen that we help those people who need that extra support to succeed in the workplace, recognising that young care leavers face particular challenges that their peers do not. In conjunction with the University of Winchester summer schools have been offered for a number of years now to help raise the aspirations of young people in care. We also offer tailored support to help young people in care go to university and this year I am pleased to say we have seen an increase in the number of care leavers starting university with 11 new starters. This brings the total number of Hampshire care leavers at university to 33, two of whom are on post-graduate courses."