Care leavers need improved support system, says Ofsted

Ofsted has called on the government to improve mental health services and the benefits system to better support care leavers.

An Ofsted study, which visited six local authorities, four secure estates and questioned 103 care leavers, also recommended that local authorities increase the housing options for care leavers, provide better training for staff and improve planning for those leaving secure accommodation.

It urged the Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) to work with the Department of Health to improve mental health services and with the benefits agency to review issues that have a negative impact on foster carers and care leavers.

Christine Gilbert, Ofsted’s chief inspector, said: “The transition into adulthood and independence can be an anxious and challenging time. But the commitment made by social care workers to go that extra mile for these young people is evident in our report.”

The report also called on the DCSF to work in partnership with the Children’s Workforce Development Council to improve staff skills in preparing care leavers in their transition to adulthood.

Areas of good practice identified by inspectors included individualised and flexible support packages, involving care leavers in planning, development, commissioning, recruitment and training processes and enabling care leavers to keep their looked-after status after 18 if needed.