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Councillors pledge extra support for children in care
3:19pm Tuesday 3rd September 2013 in News
MEMBERS of a council have pledged to redouble their efforts to safeguard and support children in care, despite the authority having been recognised as a beacon of good practice.
North Yorkshire’s county councillors have taken a pledge to champion the cause of youngsters in care following children’s minister Edward Timpson calling on local authorities to ensure the children are given the opportunity to turn their lives around.
The pledge sets out a series of priorities for looked-after children and young people to live in secure and stable homes and placements, have access to good health care and improved educational achievement.
Key indicators which illustrate the quality of support given to children in care include the number who go on to study at university and the number who remain with their foster families beyond the age of 18.
A council spokesman said while the county had double the national average of looked after young people go on to university, 22 were students at other universities and higher education establishments.
Latest figures from last year show the county supports 247 care leavers aged over 18 and 21 of these remain with foster families.
This accounts for ten per cent of the number of young people nationwide who remain in the care system beyond the age of 18.
The council credits part of its strong record to its involvement in a three-year Government pilot scheme called Staying Put, which offered young people the opportunity to remain with their carers until they reach 21.
Young people in the county’s care system have the option to remain with their foster carers until they are 21 years old, giving them stability at what is often a critical time in their development.
Councillor Tony Hall, the council’s executive member for children’s services, said while the county had a strong record of supporting children in care, the authority was aware that there was room for improvement.
He said: “The consequences of not caring enough about these young people are grave; both for the young people themselves, but also for communities as a whole.
“We must work to understand why these children come into care; we need to know whether we are providing the best care possible as an authority and we need to listen to what they have to say.
“This pledge is recognition by members as a whole that they have a part to play in this shared task.”
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