Sussex child services project will be rolled out across country

A project trialled in Sussex to improve child services will be rolled out across the country. Dubbed the Leading Improvements for Looked After Children (Lilac), the scheme was based on the findings of three young people who had been in care in Sussex.

They were allowed to inspect the county’s care services and interview the people who worked there and came up with ways the system could change.

The team carried out their inspections using criteria they had devised themselves and were given access to statutory, voluntary and independent children’s services.

As part of the pilot, three specially-trained young inspectors interviewed professionals from West Sussex County Council Children and Young People’s Services, visited two children’s homes and a secure unit.

They focused on how young people were involved in key decision-making processes such as choosing their preferred school and where they were placed.

Services that met the agreed standards will be awarded the Lilac kitemark of approval.

Susan Ellery, of the Children and Young People’s Services, said: “As young men and women who have been in care, they know what matters to young people.

“They asked the sort of questions you wouldn’t hear from professionals and they weren’t afraid to dig deeper.

“We shall now be meeting up with them again at the end of this month to see how we can implement any suggestions and proposals they come up with.

“This was an extremely valuable exercise for everyone involved. The young people who came down to inspect us had great enthusiasm.

“We were able to benefit from their knowledge and our own young people had good role models and could well become Lilac inspectors themselves.”

The project, which was also trialled in York, was managed by the Fostering Network with support from the Social Care Institute for Excellence and the National Leaving Care Advisory Service.

Mark Dunn, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “We were delighted to be able to play a key role in an exciting innovation that will not only benefit our own young people, but also young people throughout the country.”