Within North East Lincolnshire, excellent care provided by children’s homes has not always led to good transition outcomes. Stability has a significant impact on a young person’s ability to engage in employment and training. Many prevalent financial risks (e.g. paying council tax or claiming housing benefit) only become evident once young people leave care and reach the age of 18. The aim is to keep young people close to their substitute family structure to allow established routines and relationships to continue, reducing the social isolation and loneliness that can lead to mental ill-health.
North East Lincolnshire’s innovation is designed around a series of new functions. A Staying Close Contract is being developed with care leavers, based on Signs of Safety. The council is working with partners to secure suitable accommodation and improved transitional support, including housing and mental health services. A process for releasing identified workers’ hours is being established, enabling practitioners to continue supportive relationships with care leavers. Family group conferencing or Family Network Meetings are being built into the care leaving process for all young people to ensure an effective support network is in place. Finally, a peer mentoring model is being co-designed with care leavers to offer sibling style support and digital support mechanisms to facilitate ongoing support from identified workers.
DfE funded independent evaluation will be published in 2020.