Islingtons Strategy for Looked After Children and Care Leavers by sdfsb346f


Islingtons Strategy for Looked After Children and Care Leavers

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									The Islington Plan for Looked After Children and
Young People 2008 - 11

                  CONSULTATION DRAFT
                  Consultation Period 8th May - 8th July 2008

                  All comments and ideas to David Worlock

Draft1: 8/05/08


Section 1: Corporate Parenting: getting it right

Section 2: Family and parenting support

Section 3: Care placements: a better experience for everyone

Section 4: Delivering a first class education

Section 5: Promoting health and wellbeing

Section 6: Transition to adulthood

Section 7: The role of the practitioner

Section 8: The role of the private and voluntary sectors

Section 9: Resources

Over the past five years Islington Council and its partners have made significant strides in
improving services and outcomes for looked after children and care leavers. Islington has
followed a twin-track approach of endeavouring to reduce the number of children coming
into care (through the strengthening of preventive community-based services) and
improving services for those who still need to come into care. This approach has been
successful: there are now significantly fewer children in care and for those in care
outcomes are better: for example, increased number of children being placed permanently
with families, reduced number of children in institutional care, increased number of young
people going on to university.

However, there is still a wide gap between the outcomes that Islington‟s looked after
children and young people achieve, and those achieved by other Islington children. This
mirrors the national picture. It is because this gap still remains (and in some respects has
become greater) that the Government introduced the White Paper Care Matters: Time for
Change. The White Paper acknowledges the progress that has been made but calls on
local authorities and their partners to take the necessary action to significantly close that
gap. The White Paper contains a wide range of initiatives and expectations to which local
authorities and their partners will need to respond.

Islington and its partners (who constitute the Corporate Parent) are taking the opportunity
of the White Paper to develop a new, holistic strategic plan in respect of looked after
children and care leavers – building on the real progress that has been made, but
introducing new developments to meet the challenge. Key to the success of this plan are
the following elements which run throughout it:

   1. The ownership of corporate parenting responsibilities by a wider range of people
      and professionals and services.

   2. The views of looked after children and young people.

   3. A re-positioning of our thinking about, and approach to, looked after children so that
      they are more based on what good parents would do.

   4. Achieving the benefits from the establishment, from April 2008, of an integrated,
      multi-agency service for looked after children – bringing together social care,
      education, health and independent sector services into one operational unit,
      committed to improving outcomes for Islington looked after children and young

   5. Achieving the potential arising from the wider integration of services for children,
      which should result in looked after children having improved access to universal,
      targeted and specialist services – and these services strengthening their
      contribution to the well-being of these children.

   6. An evidence based approach, with plans and specific developments based on good
      information and evidence of what works.

The structure of this Plan is based on the seven main chapters of Care Matters: Time for
Change so that Islington‟s position and plans can be viewed accurately against it.

Section 1
Corporate Parenting: Getting it Right
Corporate Parenting is the concept that all councillors, council departments and partner
organisations / contractors have a responsibility to promote the well-being of children and
young people in a council‟s care. In essence, they are all expected to be good parents and
to use their roles to promote the well-being of this most vulnerable group. Without this level
of commitment and determination, looked after children will remain on the margins of the
community. A key element of Corporate Parenting is the need for looked after children
and young people to have a voice that is heard by those with power and to be able to
influence not just what happens to them as individuals but the care local care system of
which they are part.

1. The Care Matters Challenge
The Government sees Corporate Parenting as a critical factor in getting it right for looked
after children, stating in the White Paper that: “Improving the role of the corporate parent,
as part of children’s trusts, is key to improving the outcomes for children in care. It is with
the corporate parent that responsibility and accountability for the wellbeing and future
prospects of children in care ultimately rest. A good corporate parent must offer everything
that a good parent would, including stability. It must address both the difficulties which
children in care experience and the challenges of parenting within a complex system of
different services. Equally it is important that children have a chance to shape and
influence the parenting they receive”.

The White Paper sets out the key elements of effective corporate parenting:

1. The Director of Children‟s Services and Lead Member have overall responsibility for
   leading corporate parenting arrangements – both across the authority and with its
   partners in the children‟s trust. They must take the lead in ensuring that children are
   listened to.

2. Authorities may also appoint a group of senior officials with responsibility for the
   corporate parenting of children in care. The accountability and governance
   arrangements of these groups must be clear.

3. Whatever structures exist in a Children‟s Services authority, children’s participation
   is an essential part of the process. Every local authority is expected to establish a
   Children in Care Council to ensure that every child has the opportunity to air their
   views. In making these arrangements, the local authority should consider in particular
   the needs of disabled children and very young children, and of those children who are
   not members of the council themselves.

4. Through the Children in Care Council, children and young people should be able to put
   their experiences of the care system directly to those responsible for corporate
   parenting including the DCS and the Lead Member, who should demonstrate how they
   will maintain contact with children and young people in care.

5. Every local area should develop a pledge for the children in their care.

6. Those responsible for Corporate Parenting must be informed by high quality
   management information

2. Current Position in Islington
For much of the past four years, Islington has had an effective approach to corporate
parenting. It established a Corporate Parenting Board which has engaged several
councillors, and senior officers from a range of council departments and agencies. The
Board has been involved in a wide range of issues relating to looked after children and
young people and has taken forward specific initiatives with considerable success.
Particular successes have included:

   1. Raising the profile of foster care and engagement of Council departments in foster
      carer recruitment.

   2. The establishment of an Islington work / training scheme (Career Start) for looked
      after young people and carer leavers.

   3. The development of a protocol between the Housing Needs and Children‟s Social
      Care Services and a dedicated post to ensure that solutions are found for situations
      where a housing issue is presenting an obstacle to a good outcome being achieved
      for a child.

   4. Raising the profile of the importance of “enrichment activities” (e.g. engagement in
      sport, cultural activities, volunteering) for looked after children and young people,
      and the establishment of a dedicated project to take this forward.

   5. Positive involvement of councillors at a range of events to celebrate the
      achievements of Islington looked after children and young people.

   6. More generally, over the past four years all performance indicators in respect of our
      looked after children and young people have improved and this is a reflection of the
      priority that the Council and partners have to-date accorded to these children.

In addition, Islington‟s looked after children and young people do have a voice and
influence developments through the Children’s Active Involvement Service. Through
CAIS these young people:

   1. Contribute to the selection process of all staff recruited to children‟s social care

   2. Meet regularly with senior mangers to raise concerns and present ideas

   3. Make presentations to a range of audiences, including councillors, on “care” issues.

   4. Take part in a range of leisure, social and enrichment activities.

3. Outcomes and Priority Objectives for 2008 – 2011
The key outcomes that Islington aspires to are:

      to achieve a high and consistent level of understanding, engagement and
       commitment to promoting the welfare of looked after children by all stake-
       holders who have a potential contribution to make; this will include
       councillors, council departments and employees, partner agencies,
       community organisations, local residents, the voluntary sector and the
       business sector.

      to ensure that this engagement contributes to the achievement of
       quantifiable, positive outcomes for children

      that services and developments which affect looked after children are
       informed and shaped by their views and are of higher quality as a result.

      that the engagement of all looked after children and young people is
       achieved, especially those where effective engagement is more challenging
       (e.g. those with a disability, placed out of borough).

As a result of a review of current Corporate Parenting arrangements in the light of the
challenges of Care Matters, Islington will be introducing new arrangements from April
2008. The existing “Corporate Parenting Board” will cease to function and the following
new arrangements be set in place:

3.1 Executive Corporate Parenting Board
   A new Executive Corporate Parenting Board comprising senior officers from the
    core departments / agencies (Children‟s Social Care Service, the PCT and
    CEA@islington) and lead councillors will be established and meet four times per

   The senior officers will be:
       Assistant Director - Children‟s Social Care
       Head of the Children Looked After Service
       Assistant Director – Policy, and Performance – Children‟s Champion
       Manager – REACH
       Deputy Director – Children‟s Services – Islington Primary Care Trust
       Lead Paediatrician / Medical Advisor for Looked After Children

   The lead councillors will be:
       Executive Member for Children
       Lead Member for Corporate Parenting
       Shadow Executive Member for Children.

   The functions of the Board will be:
       To develop and drive forward Islington‟s Looked After Children Plan to
         achieve the vision for looked after children contained in the White Paper Care

           To review progress of the Plan and key performance indicators; to monitor
            implementation of the Council‟s pledge to looked after children.

           For councillors on the Board to challenge / hold to account officers on all
            aspects of work with looked after children.

           To ensure lead councillors are fully informed of all developments – whether at
            central government, national or local level – which are relevant to the corporate
            parenting agenda (including relevant aspects of the safeguarding and prevention

           To ensure an appropriate link is made between the Looked After Children Plan
            and the Council‟s other service and budget planning processes.

3.2 General Corporate Parenting Board
   Each “non-core” Council department and partner agency will identify a senior officer to
   be their Corporate Parenting lead. These officers will meet with the Executive
   Corporate Parenting Board twice per annum as a General Corporate Parenting
   Board. The focus of these meetings will be the non-core council departments and
   agencies discussing and reporting on the work they are doing to achieve the outcomes
   of the Looked After Children Plan.

3.3 The Children’s Active Involvement Service / Children in Care Council
   The Children‟s Active Involvement Service (CAIS) will continue its work, focusing on
   the following five core functions:

       Contributing to staff selection and recruitment
       Commissioning of advocacy services for individual children and young people
       Staff training
       Presentations to a range of audiences
       Social / networking opportunities for young people

    In addition, CAIS will set up and run Islington‟s Children in Care Council (CIC). A
    detailed constitution will be developed for the council. The council will comprise 10
    members (two from each of the following age bands: 12/13, 14/15, 16/17, 18+ ; in
    addition, two members form CAIS). Members of the CIC will engage younger children
    through specific events.
    In addition there will be a Chair and Deputy Chair who will be care leavers.

The main functions of the CIC will be:

   To find out from Islington‟s looked after children and young people what their issues of
    concern are about being looked after by Islington, what works well, what they would
    like to be different.

   To help shape strategic and operational developments that affect looked after children
    and young people and care leavers.

   To monitor Islington‟s compliance with its pledge for looked after children.

   To represent these issues to the other key elements of the Corporate Parenting
    structure within Islington:

       The CIC Council (or sub-group thereof) will meet with the lead councillors on the
       Executive Corporate Parenting Board twice per annum.

       The Children in Care Council (or sub-group thereof) to meet with senior and middle-
       managers from Children‟s Social Care, CEA@islington and the Islington Primary
       Care Trust twice per annum.

       The CIC Council (or sub-group thereof) to meet with the Director of Children‟s
       Services twice per annum.

   To make connections and joint working arrangements with other developments in the
    borough designed to involve young people e.g. Listen Up

   To manage a budget so that it can make concrete decisions about some specific areas.

3.4 Engaging the Wider Stakeholder Audience
Two events will be held each year to which all councillors (and officers from the General
Corporate) are invited. The purpose of these events – to be held on Saturdays – will be
for councillors and officers to meet with front-line staff, carers, children and young people,
and to hear what developments are taking place and what they can do to achieve the
vision in Islington‟s Looked After Children Plan.

3.5 Listening to Messages from the Front line
Lead councillors and the Director of Children‟s Services will make visits (two each per
Annum) to looked after children placed out of the borough to ascertain their views and
concerns. Councillors on the Executive Corporate Parenting Board meet with front-line
staff in the new Children Looked After Service once per annum.

3.6 Celebration Events
There will be three celebration events each year: one for looked after children up to the
age of 16, one for looked after young people and care leavers aged 16 – 25, and a specific
one for the Careers Start scheme. Councillors, officers, carers and parents will be invited
as appropriate to each event.

3.7 Governance Arrangements
An Islington Looked After Children Plan will be developed. This will set out Islington‟s
aspirations and vision for its looked after children and care leavers and the key work
streams by which they will be achieved. Development of the Plan will be the responsibility
of the Executive Corporate Parenting Board. It will be endorsed by the Islington Children‟s
Board and approved by the Council Executive. Each year an annual review and updating
of the Plan will be presented to the Children‟s Board and Executive. This review will also
include the key messages and issues arising from the arrangements, meetings and
events set out above.

Section 2

Family and Parenting Support

1. The Care Matters Challenge
Care Matters gives a clear strategic direction for local authorities and their partners to
refocus services in order to ensure that where it is in children‟s best interests, they are
enabled and supported to live at home.

Care Matters states that it is essential that services are designed to identify early those
families who need support, including children in need of safeguarding, in order to prevent
the need for children to enter care. This approach needs to be a sophisticated one, with a
range of services made available to support families as and when they need it. These will
include intensive interventions where family difficulties are complex and enduring; better
access to support care and short term breaks; tailored support for adults whose own
difficulties are impacting on their ability to parent, and comprehensive packages of support
to ensure that children are enabled to return home from care in a planned and sustainable

Care Matters notes that some local authorities have managed to reduce the numbers of
children in their care through an explicit decision to do so. Where such a strategy is
coupled with comprehensive family support and intervention arrangements, there is a view
that this could be of benefit to all vulnerable children in the area.

Interventions to support families need to be evidence-based; that is, there needs to be
empirical evidence that such interventions can achieve a desired outcome. Care Matters
makes reference to specific initiatives:

   1. Family Group Conferences which can engage the support of wider family and
      friends at an early stage of concerns about a child to support birth parents and
      reduce the need for a child to enter care.

   2. Good parenting: the Government has placed a renewed focus on the importance of
      good parenting (in particular through the publication in 2007 of Every Parent
      Matters) and has developed a number of initiatives through which the State can
      support parents in their role.

   3. As a result of new evidence and a better understanding of the importance of health-
      led early intervention and prevention and the first years of life, the Government is
      piloting an evidence-based programme to improve the outcomes of the most at risk
      children and families. The Reaching Out Report recommended the testing of the
      nurse-led home visiting programme, the Nurse Family Partnership, which has
      achieved impressive results with over 25 years of testing and development in the
      US. This programme is being piloted in 10 NHS and local authority sites.

   4. The White Paper recognises that increasing numbers of children are entering care
      because of the particular needs of their parents; for example, as a result of
      substance misuse (explored in Hidden Harm 2003). There is therefore a need for

          adults and children‟s services to work together and for adults services to recognise
          the particular circumstances of clients who are also parents. The Government is
          planning to pilot a Family Drug and Alcohol Court from January 2008 to evaluate its
          capacity to improve the engagement of adults in treatment services and increase
          their capacity to provide stable care for their children.

    5. The Government will be funding the development of Multi-systemic Therapy as an
       effective specialist intervention for older children and young people on the edge of

    6. The Government wants to develop the idea of “support care” i.e. short term breaks /
       respite care as a means of supporting families under stress.

2. Current Position in Islington
Islington has, for several years, been following the dual strategic direction promoted by
Care Matters: that is, a conscious policy of reducing the number of children in care,
primarily through the provision of effective alternatives; and ensuring that those children
who do need to come into care receive a quality service.

Islington has successfully reduced the number of children looked after. This has been a
deliberate policy based on the fact that the “care system” can have an adverse impact on
many children. Moreover, as Care Matters points out, many children in care have said that
they wish more had been done to enable them to have stayed within their families.

The number of both local Islington children and unaccompanied asylum seeking children
(UASC) looked after have decreased significantly.

Number of Children Looked After in Islington

                      31-Mar-02   31-Mar-03   31-Mar-04   31-Mar-05   31-Mar-06   31-Mar-07   31-Jan-08
 Islington children     398         389         386         346         326         307         292
 UASC                    89          89          90          97          75          57          44
 Total                  487         478         476         443         401         364         336

This reduction has been achieved through a number of initiatives and developments.

2.1. The development of evidence-based preventative alternatives to care
It is not good enough to simply stop children coming into care; that would be unsafe. What
is necessary is the substitution of care by safe community evidence-based alternatives
that will improve the life-chances of the children concerned. The Joint Area Review Report
of March 2007 noted: The reduction in the looked after children population is being
achieved safely and with due regard to placement stability. The increased focus on
effective multi-agency gatekeeping, including family group conferences, and the
commissioning of packages of support for children and young people at home, is ensuring
better outcomes and an improved choice of care options. Some innovative services, such
as Pulse N7, delivered in partnership with universal services for young people, are
beginning to make a positive impact on admissions to the care system (JAR Review of
Service for Young People, March 2007, para63).

These services are important not just to stop children coming into care; they enable many
children who come into care to return home rather than remain in care. Services which
have been developed in Islington include:

2.1.1 Family Group Conferences
Family Group Conferences are an evidence-based approach for bringing together
members of the child‟s family and community network with the aim of empowering them to
find sustainable solution for the care of the child. Islington has a Family Group Conference
service which aims to provide a conference to children at risk of coming into care. In 2007
– 2008 it provided conferences for 100 children, of whom about one third came into care.
The success rate could be improved if conferences took place at an earlier point.

2.1.2 Social workers based in Children‟s Centres
Following a successful pilot evaluated by the Thomas Coram Research Unit, a senior
social worker is now linked to every Children‟s Centre, supervising family support staff,
thus enabling the early identification of and response to need. From April 2007 to January
2008, 203 families have received a targeted family support service. Families and
Children‟s Centre staff now also have seamless access to social work expertise, thus
strengthening risk management and maximising the support that can safely be provided in
the community.

2.1.3 The Substance Misuse Service / Family Drugs and Alcohol Court
Working across children‟s and adults services, this service provides assessment,
monitoring and support for substance misusing parents – substance misuse, and the
neglect that follows, being one of the main reasons younger children come into care.
The service has worked with a total of 63 individuals. Of those 63, the service referred 40
into treatment. Positive outcomes (defined by children remaining at home with a child
protection or children in need plan and children reunited with parents) have been achieved
for 28 adults & 40 children including 1 unborn.

Islington has been working with Westminster and Camden and the Ministry of Justice to
establish the pilot Family Drug and Alcohol Court referred to above. This court became
operational in January 2008.

2.1.4 The Adolescent Multi-agency Adolescent Support Service (AMASS)
As Care Matters notes, adolescents constitute one of the key groups of children who can
end up in care for a variety of reasons; care for many of these young people has little
positive impact. AMASS is a multi-disciplinary, intensive service established in 2007 with
the specific aim of preventing highly vulnerable and challenging young people aged 10 –
16 from coming into care. Based on the ICON (Intensive Community Outreach Network)
model, it empowers parents and their support networks (as the main change agents) with
skills and resources that can be generalised and sustained without over-reliance on
professionals. The ICON model is an evidence based framework (piloted from 2005 –
2007 in Islington, and drawing upon concepts used within Multi Systemic Therapy **) that
implements present and goal focused interventions within an ecological and behavioural
model. Jointly worked with social workers, the AMASS Team build upon positive
strengths, which already exist within families and carer support networks, and attempt to
change negative patterns of behaviours. Through focusing on the support needs of the
parent to improve the welfare and safeguarding of their child / young person, AMASS
attends to the often complex and chronic presenting needs of parents / carers – the Team
includes staff that can support and access services around mental health, substance
misuse and training / educational needs for adults.

AMASS has offered ten intensive home stability support packages to families and young
people from June ‟07 – March „08, and in eight cases young people remain at home.

2.1.5 Intensive Community Support Packages
ICSPs have two key aims: to safely prevent children and young people from becoming
looked after and to prevent placement breakdown for those children who are already
looked after. The service is both responsive and intensive, meaning that vulnerable
children and families can quickly access a flexible crisis intervention service. 31 intensive
support packages were commissioned between April 2007 and March 2008 for children in

need and 6 for children looked after. Of the 31 completed or ongoing children in need
packages, 24 children remain in their communities and out of the care system. An
evaluation into the effectiveness of ICSPs was completed in February 2008 by the London
Metropolitan University and will be used as a basis for service improvements, particularly
in the areas of outcome monitoring and reviewing.

2.1.6 Family Support Team
The Family Support Team has three key service priorities: to support the rehabilitation of
looked after children back into their family and social networks; to support children and
young people who are subject to a child protection plan; and to support children and young
people at risk of becoming looked after. Using a strengths-based, task-centred model, the
FST works in partnership with children and families and other professionals to provide
flexible and needs led support services. Between April 2007 and March 2008, 81 children
were provided a service; of these, 75 were children in need or subject to a protection plan,
and only 3 of these children became looked during the period of service provision. 4
children ceased to be subject to child protection plans during the course of services and 4
children looked after were supported in their rehabilitation to family.

2.1.6 Social Care and Housing Services at Pulse N7
Pulse N7 is an integrated „one stop shop‟ for adolescents providing a range of services
including sexual and mental health, substance misuse and Connexions. Children‟s Social
Care input at Pulse N7 includes family support, social work and housing assessment, with
the overall aim of supporting young people to remain in their family and social networks
and maximise their life chances. The housing assessment service was piloted this year to
improve the level of assessment received by 16 and 17 who have unstable
accommodation. Between April 2007 and March 2008, 96 young people with unstable
accommodation received an integrated housing/social work service. 111 other young
people accessed generic family support and social work services via Pulse N7.

2.2 The wider development of preventative and early intervention services

The specific service developments set above have taken place within a broader strategic
context of developing preventative and early intervention services. Thus two of the five
priorities within the Islington Children and Young People‟s Plan are:

“Prevention is better than cure: giving young children the best possible start in life”

“Young people with access to all the help and support they need”.

Moreover, two of the other priorities (“Every child going to school every day” and
“Outstanding learning in every Islington school”) are ones which if achieved will provide
protection and resilience for those vulnerable children and young people at risk of coming
into care.

Some of the initiatives arising from this broader strategic direction, and which will have a
positive impact on vulnerable groups of children, include:

2.2.1 The development of Sure Start Children‟s Centres and extended schools.

2.2.2 The development of a Parenting Support Strategy, 2008 – 2011
This was published in March 2008. Its aim is to ensure that support for parents will be
available in all universal services and that more targeted help for those with particular
needs will be easy to access from universal settings. The strategy sets out clear
commissioning priorities based on local need and the steer of the Government‟s children‟s
plan. For example, there is a focus on engaging fathers and extending evidence-based
parenting programmes such as Triple P (positive parenting programme) and Webster-

2.2.3 The introduction of more integrated ways of working between professionals and
agencies that impact on the welfare of children. This includes the full rolling out of the
Common Assessment Framework, lead professional, common language etc.

2.2.4 The development of services for disabled children
Over the past two years services for disabled children in the borough have been
completely modernised. Social care and health services have been fully integrated; a
multi-agency resource centre has been developed at Lough Road offering a wide range of
support services; innovative services have been introduced based on the needs and
preference of children and parents. The result is that families and their children are
receiving better co-ordinated and evidence-based services and these services are being
allocated fairly in accordance with levels of need. The Integrated Disabled Children's
Service (IDCS) is able to respond much more rapidly, seamlessly and intensively in times
of crisis and potential family breakdown, supporting families through very challenging

As a consequence of this modernisation the number of disabled children looked after has
continued to fall as have the figures for new “becoming looked after” (BLA) cases. From
March 2007 to March 2008 the figure has dropped from 19 to 12 children looked after, with
no new children becoming looked after in the same period. Islington‟s 10 year average
prior to 07/08 was 5.2 young people becoming looked after per year. Those children
'looked after' classified as having a disability as a proportion of the overall looked after
population is 1% in Islington compared with 3.2% in 10 comparator boroughs and 4%
across London. Only 3 of Islington‟s disabled looked after young people are now in
residential placements, with 9 placed in stable family settings.

New funding from DCSF and DoH ringfenced for improving disabled children's services
over a 3 year period (2008 - 2011) has been recently announced, and will allow further
opportunity to expand services and support, with a significant uplift proposed. A large
proportion of this award is targeted towards 'short breaks' in its broadest sense for children
with severe/complex additional needs, and represents approximately £?? over 3 years
additional monies for LBI alone, not including what Islington PCT may match fund. This will
allow the service to be even more focussed on prevention and early intervention,
preventing family breakdown and reception into care, by being more able to manage need
and risk within the community and keeping children at home with their families where it is
possible and safe to do so".

2.2.5 The development of Area Children and Young People‟s Partnerships
The borough has been divided into six geographical areas in respect of services for
children. The aim is to establish new effective relationships between key stake holders in
each area, to identify need and plan co-ordinated responses to that need and establish

close working relationships that keep the child at the centre rather than bureaucratic

2.2.6 The role of the Islington Safeguarding Children Board
The ISCB became operational in April 2006. Whilst it is still early days, the Board is taking
a lead in highlighting and addressing a range of safeguarding issues which will serve to
benefit children and, for some, ensure that they do not need to come into care. Key
initiatives include a community partnership project to develop stronger relationships with
BME and faith communities; a development programme in respect of private fostering;
learning from the lessons of Serious Case Reviews e.g. responding to parental mental
health needs.

2.2.7 Family Nurse Partnership programme
Islington PCT and partners will be implementing the Family Nurse Partnership programme
in 2008. This is an evidence-based early intervention / prevention for first time teenage
parents. It runs from early pregnancy until the child is two, and is associated with positive
outcomes for both the parents and children.

2.2.8 Pathfinder Project for Vulnerable Families
Islington is one of 15 local authorities chosen to be a “Pathfinder” for the development of
services to promote vulnerable families. The Islington project will focus on families where
the parents have mental health needs.

2.2.9 The Public Law Outline (PLO)
The PLO is a Government initiative (effective from April 2008) aimed at preventing child
care cases coming to court until all assessments of families and community-based support
arrangements have been implemented and considered. Prior to the PLO, cases would be
put in the court arena at an earlier stage, meaning that children would come into care
earlier. The potential advantages of the PLO are that local authorities will need to
demonstrated they have taken all steps to keep children in the community and court
proceedings, if they are still needed, should be shorter. The area of concern is that
agencies will have to carry greater levels of risk as children will be in the community who
prior to the PLO would have been taken into care.

2.3 Effective gate keeping
The decision about whether a child comes into care is one of the most important and far
reaching that anyone can make given the potential damaging impact if the decision is
wrong. The decision-making process must therefore be robust and thorough. Islington has
introduced a “Becoming Looked After Panel” which considers requests for children aged
10+ to be looked after. This is a multi-agency panel which allows consideration of the
issues and options from a range of perspectives.

2.4 Enabling children to leave the care system
Helping children leave the care system can be as important as preventing them entering it
in the first place. Many children will leave the care system by returning to their own
parents and the range of support services outlined in this section will mean that this can
happen safely and with positive outcomes. However, some will leave the care system
through permanent placement with alternative carers through the legal protection of
adoption, special guardianship and residence orders. Islington has been highly successful

in securing these solutions for children in recent years through robust arrangements to
ensure that every child has a plan for permanence and that the plan is kept on track. Thus
in 2005 – 2006, 34 looked after children were adopted, and in 2006 – 2007 23 were
adopted and 10 made subject to special guardianship orders. In 2007/08, 11 children left
care through the making of a Residence Order, 15 were adopted and 7 made subject of a
special guardianship order.

2.5 Demographic Changes
One factor impacting on Islington‟s looked after children figures are the numbers of
unaccompanied asylum seeking children. Islington has always had a large number of
these children who, because they have no carers in this country, automatically become
looked after. Numbers have been reducing steadily over recent years, reflecting the
changes in global developments and the Government‟s strengthening of border controls.

2.6 Analysis
The reasons why children and young people come into care are varied. This means that to
prevent children coming into care or enabling them to leave care there must be a range of
services. For example, one of the main reasons very young children come into care is the
drug and alcohol misuse of their parents resulting in neglect. One of the reasons
adolescents come into care is their challenging / unsafe behaviour and their parents
struggle to provide effective parenting. Hence there have traditionally been peaks in the
age profile of children coming into care because of the prevalence of these issues at these
specific ages.

Whilst it is still early days, the focus on drugs and alcohol work (described in 2.1.3) and
developments such as AMASS (2.1.4) might be the explanation for the changing in the
age profile of children becoming looked after over the past two years.

This does suggest that a continued focus on these service areas should remain a high
priority. Moreover, given the association between poor outcomes for children and the age
they become looked after (the older they are, the poorer the outcomes) the goal of
preventing adolescents from entering the care system (with the exception of the most
extreme cases) should be pursued.

Age Profile: 2006 / 2007

Age                Total    percentage
          0         27        22.7%
          1         5          4.2%
          2         2          1.7%
          3         6          5.0%
          4         4          3.4%
          5         5          4.2%
          6         7          5.9%
          7         6          5.0%
          8         3          2.5%
          9         4          3.4%
         10         7          5.9%
         11         8          6.7%
         12         7          5.9%
         13         5          4.2%
         14         11         9.2%
         15         6          5.0%
         16         4          3.4%
         17         2          1.7%
Grand Total        119       100.0%

Age Profile 2007 / 08

Age                 Total    percentage
              0      15        16.5%
              1       5         5.5%
              2       7         7.7%
              3       9         9.9%
              4       8         8.8%
              5       5         5.5%
              6       5         5.5%
              7       2         2.2%
              8       4         4.4%
              9       2         2.2%
              10      3         3.3%
              11      4         4.4%
              12      3         3.3%
              13      6         6.6%
              14      4         4.4%
              15      3         3.3%
              16      6         6.6%
Grand Total          91        100.0%

 New approaches to supporting families
The White Paper encourages the development of new, more flexible approaches to
supporting families; for example, supporting the wider family network to care for a child
without that child becoming formally “looked after”. For some families without functional
extend family networks, one service development would be a pool of carers who could
offer a child regular short breaks and other forms of support and act, in effect, as a
supportive extended family i.e. a virtual extended family.

3. Outcomes and Priority Objectives for 2008 – 2011
The key outcomes that Islington will continue to seek to achieve are:

      The only children who come into the care system are those for whom it is not
       possible to care for safely, or in a way that promotes their well-being, in the

      The number of children and adolescents entering care should continue to

Objective                                                            Time-scale
1. To implement the first phase of the Parenting
   Support Strategy

2. To support the operation of, and evaluate the
   impact of, the Family Drugs and Alcohol Court

3. To identify children in need at an earlier stage through the
    establishment of improved working relationships between
   children‟s services in the six area networks – focussing in
   particular on children‟s centres, schools, social work teams,
   housing offices and GPs.

4. To implement the Public Law Outline

5. To implement plans for more effective integrated
   working, including:

      the Common Assessment Framework

      Area Children and Young People‟s Partnerships

      The operationalisation of the new social care Children in
       Need Service, including the new referral management
       arrangements and the operation of the new Children in
       Need teams

6. Completion of “social worker in schools” pilot, and the rolling
out of an agreed model to other schools.

7. To review the impact of AMASS and strengthen services
targeted at preventing adolescents becoming looked after.

8. To refocus and extend the use of Family Group
   Conferences so that they take place at an earlier
   stage in the development of family problems.

9. The development and completion of an Islington
   “Family Support Strategy”.

10. Introduction of the Supporting People funded
   service to provide housing related support to
   vulnerable families

11. To extend the operation of the Becoming Looked
    After Panel to children aged 5+.

12. To implement the Family Nurse Partnership programme.

13. To implement the Pathfinder project to support vulnerable

14. To complete a review of the needs of parents with
    mental health needs.

15. To develop more flexible approaches which will support
extended family members to care for a child without the children
needing to come into care.

16. To develop a pool of carers who could provide a range of
supports to a family and child in need (including short breaks)
and act as a virtual extended family.

17. To extend prevention and early intervention
    services for disabled children.

Section 3

Care placements: a better experience for

1. The Care Matters Challenge
1.1 Introduction
The one thing that makes the biggest difference to the lives of looked after children is
being in the right placement. If a child is with kind, understanding and committed carers
who have the “stickability” to see them through the difficult times, then there is a good
chance that the care experience will be a positive one. If the child does not have a
placement like this and if the child experiences several changes of placement, then the
child is unlikely to achieve good outcomes and the care experience might well have
compounded the trauma and disadvantage that the child entered the care system with.

The White Paper emphasises that:

      Every placement decision should be based on a proper assessment of the child’s
       need and taking into account the child‟s wishes.

      There must be a consistent focus on stability. Whilst some placement changes are
       positive (e.g. the child moving to their permanent placement from a temporary one)
       many are not. Being subjected to successive moves of placement and school leads
       to a sense of rejection, loss of confidence and capacity to trust.

      All placement decisions should be made with a view to maximising the opportunity
       for a child to find permanence.

      Placements should provider an experience of normal childhood, rather than an
       experience determined by potentially stigmatising regulations

1.2 Commissioning
The White Paper emphasises the need for local authorities to have in place good
arrangements for the commissioning of placements for children. The Government intends
to impose a statutory duty on local authorities to secure a sufficient and diverse provision
of quality placements within their local area. The government will be piloting Regional
Commissioning Units to explore the benefits of joint commissioning. The Government will
be supporting the development of a standardised national contract for residential care.

1.3 Placement stability and support
The White Paper expects local authorities to maintain a continued focus on placement
stability as the key to achieve better outcomes.

1.4 Foster Care
The White Paper emphasises the importance of foster carers being provided with effective
training and support. Carer stress, and the need to respond to difficult behaviour, account
for a high proportion of placement breakdowns and instability for children. The
Government will fund a national rollout of the Fostering Changes Programme, which is
geared to helping foster carers develop their capacity to use positive parenting techniques
to manage difficult and challenging behaviour.

The White Paper is positive about the development of Multi-dimensional Treatment Foster
Care – as a means of caring for young people with complex needs and challenging

The White Paper states that recruitment of foster carers is most effective when done
locally and expects local authorities to be engaging with their local communities to
highlight the different ways in which individuals can become involved in supporting
vulnerable children.

1.5 Permanence
The White Paper emphasises that the overarching purpose of care is to support children to
find permanence. There are different forms of permanence e.g. return home, living with
wider family / friends, long term fostering, special guardianship, remaining in residential
care or adoption. Which option is the right one for a child should depend on the needs and
circumstances of that child. There should be no disincentives attached to any one option
or another.

Special Guardianship was introduced by the Adoption and Children Act 2002 but has only
been an option for the past two years. It offers a legally secure permanence option for
children without the absolute legal severance from the birth family that stems from an
adoption order. The Adoption and Children Act modernised the whole legal framework for
adoption, in order to encourage and enable more people to adopt – including adoption of
children from care e.g. by ensuring they received continued support.

Local authorities need to reflect on the range of permanence options available in planning
for individual children.

1.6 Concurrent Planning
The Government is committed to promoting and enabling greater use of concurrent
planning. In concurrent planning arrangements, a child in care is placed with approved
foster carers who, as well as providing temporary care for the child, bring him/her to
regular supervised contact sessions with his/her parents. The carers are also approved as
prospective adopters so that if the birth parents‟ rehabilitation plan is not successful, the
child does not need to move when the care plan changes to adoption.

1.7 Residential care
Currently only a quarter of homes meet 90% or more of the National Minimum standards.
The Government views this as unacceptable and will be taking strong measures to
address issues of underperformance in children‟s homes.

1.8 Out of authority placements
The Government intends to strengthen the statutory framework so that a local authority
may not place a child out of its local authority area unless it is satisfied that such a

placement is in the child‟s best interest. It will set out a rigorous process that must be
followed so that any decision to place a child out of their authority is scrutinised and
agreed at a senior level of the local authority children‟s service.

1.9 Disabled children in long term residential placements
Children in long term residential placements in health or education settings are known to
be vulnerable, especially where the placement is a 52 week placement. The Government
intends to improve and strengthen the way in which local authorities supervise these
placements. The Government‟s expectation is that children who are in long term
residential placements which are funded primarily by local authorities should, in the
majority of cases, be looked after. Only in those cases where, having undertaken an
assessment of need, the authority is satisfied that there is a high ongoing level of parental
engagement should looked after status not apply.

1.10 Visits
Regular contact between the child and a social worker is extremely important in ensuring
that a placement continues to meet a child‟s needs. The Government intends to make the
requirement to visit children in care explicit and introduce a requirement that social
workers visiting children in placements will normally see the child alone and way from their

2. Current Position in Islington
2.1 Placements’ Commissioning Strategy
Islington‟s current commissioning strategy has the following objectives.

2.1.1 To increase the pool of local Islington foster carers.
Islington has developed a programme of continuous recruitment activity. This activity has
taken many forms: for example, making use of the “Corporate Parenting” connections to
raise the profile of fostering in all council departments, the PCT etc. A major project has
just been completed whereby all councillors have been interviewed to ascertain from them
useful organisations and individuals in their ward areas who could be approached to
support fostering recruitment. These organisations and individuals have then been
approached directly. This proactive, face-to-face outreach approach provides a positive
model for future recruitment activity.

Islington has achieved reasonable success with this recruitment activity. Numbers of new
carers recruited are: 2005 / 06: 17
                       2006 / 07: 20
                       2007 / 08: 14

At 31/01/08 Islington had 90 in-house carers, compared with 58 on 30/09/04.

This recruitment activity means that there are now more children placed with Islington
foster carers than in previous years. On 31st January 2008 Islington foster carers were
looking after 102 children compared with 62 in March 2005.

 Developing a pool of local carers big enough to ensure that every looked after child has a
good quality match will not be achieved quickly. Rather, it requires sustained effort year on
year in what is a very competitive market. The Government‟s plan to reduce the number

of children placed out-of-borough will be difficult to implement, especially is a borough
which has the geographical size and location of Islington. From a child‟s point of view,
being placed in neighbouring boroughs should not have a negative impact on their
outcomes providing they are able to attend their usual school.

2.1.2 To reduce the number and proportion of placements in the independent fostering
      sector; to reduce the number of different fostering agencies used; to strengthen
      contractual and partnership / joint development arrangements with specific

Historically, Islington has placed children with a large number of different independent
fostering agencies (IFAs) - over 40. This has made the achievement of value for money,
quality control and partnership working to develop the kind of placements that are most
suited to the needs of Islington‟s children, very difficult. Some progress has been made:

Islington entered into “preferred provider” arrangements with six agencies in 2006.
In October 2006, 19% of the 140 children placed with IFAs were with the preferred
providers; this had risen to 25% by January 2008. There is positive partnership working
between the council and the preferred providers, with the providers taking some very
challenging children and being creative in their approach to meeting their needs. There is
scope to extend the group of preferred providers.

There is still a high number of children in IFA placements. However, one of the reasons for
this is that , in line with the objective in 2.1.3, young people who would previously have
been placed in residential care are now being placed with foster carers.

2.1.3 To increase the number and proportion of children and young people in “family”
      care and reduce the number and proportion in residential care.

Islington has pursued a deliberate policy of reducing the number of placements in
residential care. The primary reason for this is the evidence-based view that the vast
majority of children are most likely to thrive and achieve good outcomes in a stable family
situation rather than an institutional one. This policy does recognise that there will be some
children for whom residential care is necessary for a period of time because of their very
specific needs which could not be met in a family setting. However, there are very few
children for whom this is the case and such placements are so specialised that they need
to be searched for on a case-by-case basis. The challenge is to develop the pool of foster
carers who can provide care for the more challenging children and young people by
ensuring that they have the right levels of support and training to undertake the task.

Islington has made considerable progress with this commissioning objective:
Percentage / Number of Children by Placement Type
                                   Percentage /         Percentage /
Placement Type                   Number of children   Number of children
                                    31-Mar-05            31-Jan-08
In House Fostering                  14.0%   (62)         30.4%    (102)
Independent fostering Agencies     35.4%    (157)        42.0%    (141)
Residential                         14.2%   (63)          4.5%    (15)
Kinship Foster Care                 12.0%   (53)          11.9%    (40)
Other                               24.4% (108)            11.3% (38)
TOTAL                               100% (443)             100% (336)

Accordingly, it has been possible to close one of Islington‟s own children‟s homes (29
Highbury New Park) in 2007 and in September 2008 a second home, Colgrain, will be

Key recent initiatives to support this objective have been:

      The establishment of the Adolescent Multi-agency Support Service (AMASS) – as
       well as working with challenging young people in the community, AMASS provides
       intensive support to foster placements caring fro challenging young people.

      The establishment of an Adolescent Fostering Service, able to provide additional
       supports to foster carers caring for adolescents.

      The redevelopment of Grosvenor Children‟s Home into a resource centre to support
       foster placements.

2.1.4 To conduct effective customised “family finding” campaigns for children requiring
      permanent placements; to spot purchase non-family placements in accordance with
      specific needs

For children who require an adoptive or permanent fostering placement (and for whom
there are no carers within existing pools) customised campaigns are mounted using a wide
range of media. This approach has been successful as the figures for adoption and
permanent fostering placements – in xx below – indicate.

There is a need to rationalise the process for identifying, matching and purchasing non-
permanent foster placements, and non-family placements as this is currently undertaking
by three different teams.

2.2 Placement Stability
Placement stability has become a major priority in Islington as a stable and good quality
family placement is seen as the key to the achievement of good outcomes. The
government measures stability in two ways: whether children have three or more
different placements in a year, and long term stability (measured by whether they have
been in the same placement continuously for more than 21/2 years).

With regard to changes of placement within a year, in 2006/07 15% of Islington‟s children
experienced 3+ placements. Whilst this figure still falls in the Government‟s “very good”
performance band, it still represents 56 children who experienced immense instability in
the year. As a consequence a task group was established to improve this position under
the four factors identified by the DCSF as contributing to placement stability:

      Improved front door, which includes robust gate keeping intervention, diversion and
       rapid rehabilitation.
      Improved placement choice
      Improved placement support
      Management and practitioner focus on the cohort of children not yet permanently
       placed or at risk of placement disruption

During 2007 – 2008, there has been a major improvement in placement moves. Only 25
children (7.3% of the looked after population) children had 3+ placements

With regard to long term stability, the picture is not as positive. The Government measures
long term stability by the percentage of children aged under 16 at March 31 st who had
been looked after continuously for at least 2.5 years, who were living in the same
placement for at least 2 years, or are placed for adoption. Islington‟s 2006/2007 figure
was 65% and its 2007/ 2008 figure was 61%. These figures do not tell the whole truth.
For example, during 2007 – 2008, four children who had been in long term institutional
care for many years were successfully moved to permanent family placements. Whilst this
is an excellent outcome for these children, it counts as “poor performance” in the
Government‟s targets because it meant they had no longer been in the same placement
for 2 years.
During 2008 – 2009, however, the task group will be focusing its attention on improving
long term stability.

2.3 Placement Support
Ensuring foster carers receive good support is often the key to achieving stability. Recent
developments include:

      The establishment of AMASS to support placements for challenging adolescents
      The introduction of an Adolescent Fostering Service
      Delivery of the Fostering Changes training programme to foster carers
      The establishment of Grosvenor Avenue children‟s home as a support resource for
       foster carers.

The take up of services at Grosvenor Avenue has not yet been as great as expected and
there is therefore a need to review this service to maximise impact.

Other key support factors which promote stability are continuity of education provision and
support from CAMHS to help carers deal with emotional and behavioural problems.

2.4 Permanence
Historically, one of the main concerns about the care system was that once in it, children
would be left to drift. In other words, no clear plans would be made to secure a permanent
living arrangement or, even if there were plans for adoption or permanent fostering or a
return home, these plans would not be taken forward in a reasonable time-scale and would
become stuck. Thus children were left not knowing what their future was and many did not
achieve that settled and secure permanent family life which is the pre-requisite of both
happiness and achieving good outcomes.

Islington has worked hard in recent years to ensure that all children do have a clear plan
which will result in permanence of one form or another. It has set in place robust
monitoring arrangements to track the progress of these children so that delays and
obstacles can be identified and addressed early on. This approach has had some

2.4.1 Adoption and Special Guardianship
In terms of adoption, Islington has been a high performing authority in both 2005/06 (34
looked after children adopted) and 2006/07 (when it was the 18th highest performer in the
country out of 141 councils). In 2006/07 the new order of special guardianship had
become an option; in that year 23 looked after children achieved permanence through
adoption and 10 through special guardianship. Special Guardians are frequently relations
of the child. One of the reasons for the positive figures for both adoption and special
guardianship is that Islington does provide, as required by law, good support once the
orders have been made through a dedicated support team.

All the indications are that the use of special guardianship will increase and adoption will
decrease. In addition to looked after children securing permanence through special
guardianship, the council is also responsible for assessing cases of non-looked after
children for whom special guardianship is being considered. Thus, since April 2007, the
Children‟s Social Care Service has been engaged in special guardianship assessments in
the cases of over 40 looked after children and 18 non-looked after children.

This has involved a major allocation of resources and a key objective for 2008 will be a
reconfiguration of resources to take account of the growth in special guardianship and
reduction in adoption as permanence options. This will also need to take into account the
high volumes of post adoption and post special guardianship support which Islington has
to provide. For example, Islington currently pays a weekly adoption allowance for 117
children, and a special guardianship allowance for 32 children.

2.4.2 Permanent Fostering
“Permanent fostering” refers to those placements where a decision is made by the local
authority, on the basis of a recommendation from the Adoption and Permanence Panel,
that a child should placed with a foster carer on a permanent basis – in other words, that
the child becomes a real part of that family and the family makes a life-long commitment to
the child, not just until looked after legal status and financial allowances cease at the age
of 18. As with adoption, children for whom permanent fostering is the plan are carefully
tracked to ensure permanence is achieved.

Numbers of new children permanently fostered:

      2005/2006: 30
      2006/2007: 25
      2007/2008: 23.

Tracking arrangements have particularly targeted those children for whom finding
permanent foster placements represented a significant challenge, such as being in
institutional care for many years.

2.4.3 Residence Orders
 Residence Orders are another form of legal order that allow an adult to care for a child
and for the child to leave care. It does not confer as much power as either an adoption or
special guardianship order. Historically it has been used by relatives (grandparents,
aunties etc) who have taken over the care of child. The use of Residence Orders as a
permanence option has declined in recent years and is expected to continue to decline ,
with more use being made of special guardianship orders. For example, in 2006 Islington

was paying weekly residence order allowances in respect of 181 children; this had
reduced to 158 children in 2008.

2.4.4 Kinship care
Kinship care refers to the arrangement whereby a member of a child‟s family or a friend of
the family is approved to be a foster carer specifically for that child. Approximately 40 of
Islington‟s looked after children are in this situation. The two challenges in respect of
children who historically have gone into kinship care arrangements are: would it be
possible to avoid them being legally looked after by supporting their placement with
relatives in another way, or by those relatives applying for a legal order from the

2.4.5 Analysis: Unintended Disincentives
From the point of view of children it is very useful to have different routes for achieving
permanence. Choice should mean that the permanence route that is the right one for each
individual child can be chosen. The problem is that other factors also impinge on the route
chosen and this means that the most appropriate form of permanence is not necessarily
achieved for some children.

A key factor in this is the different levels of financial support that the different routes attract.
For example, Islington foster carers receive an allowance which is not taxed and contains
a reward element. Kinship foster carers receive an allowance that does not include a
reward. Adoption and special guardianship allowances are set at lower levels than foster
carer allowances and are means-tested. Residence Order allowances attract the lowest
allowance rates. Whilst there are logical justifications for these differences, they can act
as disincentives for following the right route. For example, a relative who is a kinship carer
might refuse to apply for special guardianship or residence order because it would involve
a drop in income. Thus a child remains in care who does not need to.

2.4.6 Analysis: Defining Permanence
With the availability of adoption, special guardianship and residence orders, and the fact
that routes such as “permanent fostering” do not always end up being permanent in
practice because of disruption (6 of out of the 30 permanent fostering placements made in
2005/06 broke down, as did 3 of the 25 made in 2006/07; by contrast, of the 70 children
adopted since 2005, only two placements have disrupted), there is a need for a review of
the Council‟s approach to permanence and, in particular, whether there should be a
stronger pursuit of these legal orders for children.

2.5 Out-of-authority placements
The Government will be introducing legislation to require local authorities to place children
within their boundaries. This is a real issue for Islington‟s children. One of the
Government‟s performance indicators is the percentage of children newly looked after in
the year, and still looked after at 31st March, who were placed at 31st March more than 20
miles from their home address. In 2005/06, 8 out of 73 children were placed more than 20
miles away and in 2006/07, 14 out of 72. At March 2008, 69% of Islington‟s looked after
children were in placement out of the borough.

Islington fully supports the spirit and logic of the Government‟s approach – children do
need to be close to their families, communities, schools and support services. It is for this
reason that Islington focuses its recruitment activity (and that of its preferred IFA providers)
on Islington and surrounding boroughs. However, because Islington is a small borough
and has a polarised demographic profile, it will not be possible to recruit all of its carers

from within the borough; and indeed, in terms of children‟s well being this is not necessary.
What matters is the maintenance of school, friendship networks etc, and this is possible for
many children who might be placed in neighbouring boroughs.

Of the last 20 foster carers recruited by Islington (at 13th March 2008):
     12 live in Islington
     4 live in Hackney
     2 live in Enfield
     2 Live in Camden

2.6 Concurrent planning
Islington currently purchase “concurrent planning” placements from the Thomas Coram
organisation. A review needs to be undertaken to determine whether greater value for
money can be achieved by other approaches.

2.6 Visiting
One of the messages that Islington‟s looked after children and young people have
consistently fed back is the importance of their social workers visiting them regularly, and
for them to be able to have easy access to their social worker. In response to these

      Islington set its own standards for visits to children – a minimum of once every four
       weeks unless a statutory review agreed that it was in the child‟s interests for this to
       be extended to a maximum of six weeks. This is a higher standard than current
       national guidance.

      Islington has sent to all looked after children contact details – including e-mail
       address - for their social workers and the social workers‟ managers

      Islington monitors visits to looked after children monthly and team-by-team. In
       January 2008, 90% of looked after children were visited. The reasons for any visits
       not being completed are investigated by managers.

3. Outcomes and Priority Objectives for 2008 – 2011
The key outcomes Islington is seeking to achieve are:

      An increased proportion of looked after children placed with Islington foster

      An increased number of children placed within borough boundaries.

      Improved stability of placements (both numbers of placement moves and
       long term stability)

      An increased proportion of children in “permanent” family placements.

Objective                                               Time-scale
1. To revise the foster carer recruitment
    strategy to focus on pro-active direct outreach
   to organisations and individuals in the Islington
   community and neighbouring boroughs.

2. To expand the group of “preferred provider”
   independent fostering agencies and develop
   their recruitment work in and around

3. To review and make any necessary changes to
   business processes and
   organisational arrangements for the
   procurement of individual placements.

4. To develop a “placement stability plan” which
   focuses on improving long-term stability.

5. To review the service provided by Grosvenor
   Fostering Resource Centre.

6. To complete a review of current resource
   allocations, business processes and
   organisational structures in the fostering and
    adoption services in the light of:
    the introduction of special guardianship as a
       permanence option
    the need to strengthen fostering recruitment
    the introduction of an adolescent fostering
    the volume of post adoption / special
       guardianship support.

7. To review the Council‟s approach to
   “permanence” so that the choice of permanence
    route followed for a child is based on the best
    interest for the child and the one most likely to
    achieve real permanence.

8. To review arrangements for procuring
  “concurrent planning” placements.

Section 4

Delivering a first class education

1. The Care Matters Challenge
The White Paper is clear that a high quality education provides the foundation for
transforming the lives of children looked after. It recognises that children looked after face
a number of barriers to their education. It is often interrupted because of changes of
placement; children looked after have higher rates of special educational need. Even
accounting for these barriers, the White Paper states that the outcomes have not improved
sufficiently. In 2006, only 12% of children in care achieved 5A* - C at GCSE or equivalent.
The challenge is to narrow the gap significantly between the educational outcomes of
looked after children and young people, and the rest of the child / young persons‟

Early Years
Evidence shows the difference that high quality early years provision makes in improving
outcomes for children. Children in care are less likely than their peers to benefit from high
quality early years provision. From April 2008 local authorities will be under a duty to
provide information, advice and assistance to parents and carers in finding appropriate
early years provision. The Government intends to introduce an expectation that for
children under five the social worker will arrange high quality early years education as part
of the child‟s care plan.

Children looked after are disproportionately less likely than their peers to be in high
performing schools. The law requires that children looked after must be given top priority in
published admission arrangements for maintained schools and academies. The Education
and Inspections Act 2006 gave local authorities the power to direct schools to admit
children looked after, even where the school is already fully subscribed.

Boarding schools
The Government is working with a number of local authorities and independent boarding
schools to explore the effectiveness of boarding provision for vulnerable children.

Stability of schooling
Too many children looked after experience multiple placements and, as a consequence,
too many changes of school. The Government will legislate that the local authority must
ensure that a child‟s education is not disrupted as a result of care planning decisions. This
will include a specific requirement that children must not move schools in years 10 and 11
except in exceptional circumstances. Where necessary the local authority must provide
free transport.

Designated teacher
Many schools have appointed designated teachers for children looked after. They should
ensure the progression of looked after children, promote good home-school links, put in

place appropriate teaching and learning provision etc. Children looked after have mixed
views about the current effectiveness of designated teachers. The Government will
legislate to put the role of designated teacher on a statutory footing, supported by training
and statutory guidance clearly setting out their role and responsibilities.

Personal education plans
Every looked after children should have personal education plan to record their
achievements, their educational needs, attainment targets and long term plans. Feedback
indicates that schools do not always take an active role in planning and implementing
PEPs. Accordingly, the Government will publish revised guidance.

Personalised learning
The Government‟s investment in personalised learning is designed to support small group
and one to one interventions for children who have fallen behind in English and Maths and
need help to catch up. Leading teachers for intervention are expected to monitor the
progress of underperforming pupils and ensure that each pupil is receiving the right kind of
intervention to enable them to catch up in core subjects. This should be of benefit to
children looked after.

Personal education allowance
From 2008 the government will provide £500 a year for each looked after child who is at
risk of not reaching the expected standards of attainment to support their educational and
developmental needs. This will give children greater access to extended services,
personal tuition outside of school, positive activities, trips and visits that will enrich their

Gifted and talented children looked after
All schools should support their gifted and talented learners – around 10% of the school
population. More children looked after need to be identified as gifted and talented; they are
currently underrepresented. Under the Government‟s Young, Gifted and Talented Learner
programme all identified gifted and talented learners will automatically become members
of the Gifted and Talented Learner Academy. The Government will set out guidance on the
role of the designated teacher how they should consider gifted and talented provision and
work with the leading teacher for gifted and talented pupils.

Special Educational Needs
28% of children looked after have a statement of special educational needs compared with
3% of all children. The virtual school head will take a central role in ensuring that child with
SEN or a disability have adequate provision to meet their needs.

Extended activities
Evidence shows that extended services help raise children and young people‟s
educational attainment and social and emotional skills. This can be of particular benefit for
children looked after. The Government will extend access to extended activities e.g. 2
hours per week of free extended activities for pupils eligible for free school meals,
including children looked after.

14 – 19 provision
14 – 19 reform is creating new flexible routes to learning in both school and further
education colleges, which will increase the access to learning to children looked after. By
September 2013 a new statutory entitlement will ensure that every 14 – 19 year old will
have the choice between 14 types of diploma.

Staying on in education and training
The Government intends to raise the participation age of young people in education and
training to 17 in 2013 ad 18 in 2015.

Attendance and exclusions
In 2005/6, 13% of children looked after missed 25 or more days of education; 0.8% were
permanently excluded compared with 0.1% of all children;. much needs to be done to
increase attendance and reduce exclusion. The Government will produce guidance which
will set out that children in care must only be excluded as a last resort and that, in
conjunction with the local authority, schools should first consider alternative options for
supporting the child. The Government will ask all schools and local authorities to monitor
absence and exclusion of children in care and put in place strategies for improving both.
From September 2007, where a pupil is permanently excluded local authorities will be
responsible for ensuring appropriate provision is available from day six of the exclusion.
The Government will produce guidance that provision should be available from day one for
looked after children.

The virtual school head
The Government is piloting a “virtual school head” in 11 local authorities, and will extend
the role to all authorities. These heads will oversee the education of their authority‟s looked
after children. They will work with School Improvement Partners, school headteachers and
designated teachers to raise attainment, reduce absence and tackle exclusions. They will
report to the Director of Children‟s Services and Lead Member for children on the
improvements that need to be made.

Supporting carers
What parents and carers do has one of the biggest impacts on the education of children.
The Government will improve help for carers to support literacy; provide better information
to carers, strengthen Home-School Agreements.

                                           2. The Current Position in Islington

                                           2.1 Raising attainment at school
                                           2.1.1 Early Years
                                           At 1st April 2008 Islington had 52 looked after children under the age of 5. Engagement
                                           with early years provision has not, to-date, been a priority area. This is something that will
                                           now change in light of the evidence of its relationship with future success. Work is now
                                           underway to establish the current level of engagement and this will be used to determine
                                           what will be needed to achieve maximum engagement.

                                           2.1.2 Improving attainment at Key Stages
                                              There has been improvement over the years in educational attainment for Islington‟s
                                               looked after children in Key Stages 2 and 4. For 2006/07, performance in these Key
                                               Stages was better than the national children looked after performance levels.
                                              Key Stages 1 and 3 show no sustained improvement and Islington‟s most recent
                                               results show a lower level of performance by Islington‟s looked after children in Key
                                               Stages 1 and 3 than the national looked after children population.
                                              In all Key Stages there is a massive gap between the performance of Islington‟s looked
                                               after children and that of the general population attending Islington schools, and the
                                               national population.

                                                                OC2 Key Stage 4 Results for CLA in Islington - 2000 - 2007
             Percentage of LAC achieving

                                           80%                             70%73%
                                           70%                          62%      65%
                                                              56%                                                                              2000
                      the target

                                           50%                      43%
                                           40%            29%                                                                                  2003
                                           10%                                                           4% 8% 6%                              2005
                                            0%                                                                                                 2006
                                                      Achieved at least 1 GCSE grade A* - G          Achieved at least 5 GCSEs grade A* - C    2007

                                                                 Key Stage 3 Results for CLA in Islington - 2000 - 2007
Percentage of LAC achieving

                                 45%                                42%
                                 40%                                                     37%        35%                             35%
                                 35%                                                                                                           2000
                                                   29%                               27%          28%
                                                       25%                                                            25% 25% 24%
         the target

                                 30%                                                                  24%                                      2001
                                 25%                 21%   22%                     21%                              21%
                                                                        17%                                       17%                          2002
                                 20%                                                           15%
                                 15%                          12%                                                       12%                    2003
                                 10%                                                                             4%                            2004
                                  5%             0%                             0%                                                             2005
                                                 Achieved level 5 or more in    Achieved level 5 or more in      Achieved level 5 or more in
                                                          English                         Maths                           Science              2007
                                                      OC2 Key Stage 2 Results for CLA in Islington - 2000 - 2007

                                   80%                                                                                        74%
achieving the target
 Percentage of LAC

                                   60%                            53%                                                                 2000
                                   50%                                                          42%                                   2001
                                   40%                                                                                                2002








                                    0%                                                                                                2005
                                          Achieved level 4 or more in Achieved level 4 or more in Achieved level 4 or more in
                                                   English                      Maths                      Science                    2007


                                                       OC2 Key Stage 1 Results for CLA in Islington - 2000 - 2007
 Percen tage o f LAC achievin g

                                   90%          85%                                                          85%
                                                              75%            71%                                    75%
                                   70%          64%                                                           64%                     2000
                                                  56%                                58%
                                                                           53% 57% 50%                    53%   56%
                                   60%    48%       50%                                                 48%                           2001
           the target

                                            47%         43%              43%           43%                            43%
                                   50%                                           38%                                                  2002
                                   30%                                                                                                2003
                                   20%                                                                                                2004
                                    0%                                                                                                2005
                                           Achieved level 2 or more in    Achieved level 2 or more in   Achieved level 2 or more in   2006
                                                   Reading                         Writing                        Maths               2007

                                  2006/07 results for Islington looked after children with comparators

                                  All figures are from 06/07 apart from National CLA

                                                   Islington CLA               National CLA              Islington         National
                                  Reading                    43%                        57%                    77%              84%
                                  Writing                    43%                        52%                    73%              80%
                                  Maths                      43%                        65%                    83%              90%

                    Islington CLA           National CLA          Islington       National
English                  53%                    43%                  77%           76%
Maths                    42%                    41%                  74%           74%
Science                  74%                    57%                  85%           85%

                    Islington CLA           National CLA          Islington       National
English                  17%                    28%                  64%           74%
Maths                    24%                    33%                  64%           76%
Science                  24%                    29%                  60%           73%

                    Islington CLA           National CLA          Islington       National
5 A* - C                 15%                    12%                  49%           62%
1 A* - G                 65%                    63%                  96%           99%

Three years of data from the REACH Team has shown that the keys to raising attainment
and exam success are:
   excellent attendance
   no placement or school moves in an exam year
   being placed in foster care
   no statement of special education needs
       receiving additional personalised support in school led and monitored by the
        designated teacher.

The role of REACH
Actions and work streams (led by the specialist multi-disciplinary education team for
looked after children, REACH) that have been put in place to improve performance
       A tracking programme that aims to identify young people that are underachieving,
        with particular focus on key exam year groups, with REACH Team advisory
        teachers negotiating and organising personalised additional packages of support to
        raise attainment. Over the past year, such packages have included one-on-one
        tutoring in a range of subjects, Teaching Assistant support in schools, both in class
        and after school and mentoring.
       All young people receive a wrap around service from the REACH Team which
        includes monitoring of tuition/ TA support/ mentoring, monitoring and/ or attending
        Personal Education Plans (PEPs), Educational Psychologists support, Connexions
        PA, After School Hours Club and residentials aimed at engaging hard to reach
        young people who are disengaged from education to raise their attainment and

The role of other education services
Whilst progress has been made in some areas, there is more that can be done. The
education of looked after children does need to have a higher profile than it currently has
amongst mainstream education services. Islington has an excellent specialist team driving
forward improvements; however, there are also many very good mainstream educational
developments taking place in the borough – the knowledge, skills and resources from
these needs to be brought to bear on Islington‟s looked after children. Key to this will be
the establishment of a virtual school for looked after children, and the role of head of that
school. This head teacher role needs to build close working relationship with other head
teachers; to have authority to challenge schools (in and outside of Islington) and other
local education authorities, and to be the educational champion for Islington‟s looked after
children. By being a school, it can also be subject to the challenges and supports of the
wider educational processes and services e.g. the Self Evaluation Form process and
associated support and challenge. Finally, it provides the opportunity to develop a model
of “parental involvement” in the school – for example, by establishing a group of interested
and influential local people (along the lines of a Parent-Teachers‟ Association?) who could
champion the education of looked after children and bring in resources and ideas.

The role of foster carers and social workers
Foster carers and social workers have a critical role in promoting good educational
outcomes. For them to do this well, they need to develop and adopt the mind-set and
approach of a good parent who will champion and fight for their child‟s education. They
also need to have good information about can be very complex processes; an example of
this being the new 14 – 19 offer.
The role of foster carers is critical - both in terms of the stability of the placements they
offer, and their own aspirations for and involvement in the education of the children they
care for. An Ofsted inspection of the fostering Service in March 2008 found the following:
The fostering service promotes the educational achievement of children and young people
and gives high priority to meeting their education needs and negotiating placements that
do not disrupt young people’s educational development. Foster carers demonstrate a good
understanding of their role in promoting young people’s educational achievement; their
efforts are supported by training and written guidance. Foster carers are encouraged to
register young people with library services and extra curricular activities at schools. Foster
carers talk of the complex efforts made to ensure young people continue to attend the
same schools they did prior to the foster care placement. Young people confirm that foster
carers are keenly involved in their education by, for example, attending school parents’
meetings. File reviews indicate the effective working relationships between foster carers,
staff of the fostering team and education services. In particular, the work of REACH has
been instrumental in monitoring and supporting the educational needs of the children. One
returned questionnaire from a foster carer states “The REACH team in Islington are
brilliant!” Statutory LAC reviews focus on monitoring the educational needs of young
people and ensure Personal Educational Plans are in place.

A major survey of foster carers is underway to develop a clearer picture of how foster
carers currently support the education of the children they care for, and what more could
be done to increase their effectiveness in this area.

 2.1.3 Improving attendance
 Children looked after in Islington of statutory school age have shown significant
 improvement in attendance. The Government measures attendance in terms of the
 number of children who miss 25+ days in the school year. This has improved year-on-
 year. Indeed, the overall level of absence of Islington‟s looked after children is better than
 both the Islington general school population and the national school population.

 Attendance results 2006/07: Percentage of children absent for 25+ days




 25+ day comparative results*
                      Islington      Islington         National       Inner London           London
                     Result 06/07   Result 05/06      Result 05/06     Result 05/06        Result 05/06
             %          9.09%          12.6%             13.4%               13.3%            12.5%

 * 2006/07 figures for CLA have not yet been released

 Absence rate as defined by the average number of children absent from school on any
 given half-day in the school year

                                    Islington CLA     National results Islington Results
                                         06/07             06/07              06/07

                     Absence rate
                                        6.33%              6.43%              7.60%

                                        2.18%              5.18%              6.28%

                                        8.72%              7.86%              9.49%
 Islington CLA: All Islington children looked after of school age.
 National Results – All students in maintained Primary and Secondary Schools by Government
 Office Region and Local Authority
 Islington Results – All students in maintained Primary and Secondary Schools within London
 Borough of Islington.

Since 2005 a number of initiatives have been developed and implemented to improve
       the employment of an Education Welfare Officer and Attendance Officer in the
        REACH Team to drive the work forward
       daily monitoring i.e. the school of every child is contacted every day through
        Welfare Call
       the introduction of Attendance Action Plans
       the continued monitoring of attendance of children looked after through weekly
        meeting with the REACH Team manager
       robust reporting systems up to Assistant Director level in both Cambridge Education
        @ Islington and Children‟s Social Care.

2.1.4 Reducing exclusions
In 2006/07 31 looked after young people had fixed term exclusion from school, mainly due
to challenging and violent behaviour and verbal abuse of school staff. There were also 2
young people who were permanently excluded from school (one in borough and one out of
Work surrounding exclusions is overseen by the REACH Team Education Welfare Officer
(EWO) and attendance officer, who check that the process and timescales are being
adhered to and the REACH Team EWO challenges exclusion and length of exclusions,
where appropriate. The REACH Team also offers interim tuition based at 29 Highbury
New Park (the base of the Leaving Care Service) which ensures that young people who
have been excluded from school can access some education, if appropriate from day 1.
National guidance for exclusion is included in the DCSF Behaviour and Attendance
Strategy. Locally, work is in process to support schools in promoting positive behaviour,
reducing exclusions and implementing the SEAL curriculum. There are developments to
restructure the PRU provision into college framework that will include a Rapid Response to
Exclusion team and offer a greater range of flexible alternative provisions.

2.1.5     Meeting special educational needs
Currently 28% of Islington‟s looked after children of school age have a statement of
Special Educational Needs (SEN), which is the same as the national figure for looked after
children. This compares to national and local figures of 3% for the total school population.
The REACH Team has two attached Educational Psychologists (EPs) who work a total of
two days per week monitoring Annual Reviews and advising on SEN issues. EPs attend
Annual Reviews (AR), where possible and in 2006/07 EPs managed to attend 34% of
reviews. To date, data is being collected on young people who are on SA and SA+ and
copies of all AR are being kept on file and dates for next AR being recorded.

2.1.6     Ensuring effective admission arrangements
The REACH Team EWO liaises with local authority admissions‟ departments to ensure
that appropriate education provision for Islington looked after children is provided. For
those young people that enter care and stay in Islington, the REACH Team offer interim
tuition at 29 Highbury New Park if they do not currently have a school place. Also, newly

arrived Islington asylum seekers in Year 11 are also fast tracked in two local secondary
schools, to ensure that they receive appropriate educational provision within 20 days. A
review of the cases of children and young people becoming looked after in 2007-08
showed that the majority continue to attend the school they were in before they became
looked after. Schools had to be found for the unaccompanied asylum seeking children,
and this happened in all such cases, with the exception of one, in 20 days.
In all local authorities looked after children are entitled to first priority school places,
monitored through the admissions forum. However, what is not known is whether, when
planning which school a child should attend, social workers and foster carers approach
this in the same way as good parents would for their own children. This would involve
researching the strengths and weaknesses of different schools, visiting open evenings,
appealing against not getting first choice etc. This will be essential to ensure the children
concerned get the best possible education available in the area they are placed.

2.1.7    Enabling gifted children to flourish
National and locally, there are gifted and talented coordinators working in partnership with
schools which enables a collaborative approach in raising attainment through the use of a
variety of strategies. This enables provision to be tailored to the needs of each school and
each pupil, meaning that there is no „one size fits all‟ model. In Islington the focus in recent
years has been on improving basic performance rather than promoting the potential of
those who are gifted and talented, and this is now something that needs to change. The
starting point will be the identification of these children and making connections with the
Islington Gifted and Talented Co-ordinator.

2.1.8     Maximising take up of the 14 – 19 Strategy offer
For young people at KS4 in Islington schools the mainstream core offer includes a
specialised programme of Level 1 and 2 courses: these include a Young Apprenticeship in
Business and Financial Administration, Construction, Beauty, Hairdressing &c. These run
on a single day a week across both years and lead to full accreditation.

To complement this there is a directory of flexible alternative provision (the individualised
programme) to meet the needs of young people for whom, for example, the full
mainstream offer is not currently appropriate or who need specific kinds of additional
support and incentive.

Part of this comprises a re-engagement programme with a range of provision tailored to
meet individual needs in a variety of settings (e.g. the College, The Boat Club,
Freightliners Farm &c.). This programme is focussed specifically on those young people in
key stage 4 at risk of becoming NEET or at those aged 16+ who are NEET.

Members of the Reach Team have been involved in the diploma training programme run
by the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust.

3. Outcomes and Priority Objectives for 2008 – 2011
The key outcomes Islington is seeking to achieve are:

      All looked after children under the aged of five are attending appropriate early
       years provision.

      Year-on-year, to narrow the gap between the educational performance of the
       looked after population and that of the rest of the Islington school population
       at all Key Stages.

      Year-on-year to improve the level of attendance of Islington’s looked after
       children so that it exceeds the attendance levels of the general Islington
       school population and national attendance levels.

      No Islington child is permanently excluded and, year-on-year, fixed term
       exclusions are reduced.

      No looked after child is without appropriate full-time educational provision for
       more than 10 school days.

      Looked after children are placed in the best achieving schools in their area.

      No young person changes school in Years 10 and 11.

      Gifted and talented children are identified and receive the necessary support
       to achieve their potential.

      Foster carers, social workers and young people understand the key education
       processes (admissions, choosing a school, exclusions, SEN, gifted and
       talented, the 14 – 19 Strategy) offer and are empowered to make informed

Objectives                                                          Time-scales
1. To complete an audit of engagement with early years
    provision by children under the age of 5; to use this to
   develop a plan to ensure all children are engaged to a level
   commensurate with their needs.

2. To establish the virtual school for looked after children and
   the role of virtual head teacher. The virtual school will,
   where appropriate, mirror the arrangements for a
   mainstream school, including the completion of a “Self
   Evaluation Form” , prioritisation for support and challenge
   and an appropriate model of “parental involvement”.

3. To raise the profile of the education of looked after children
   amongst key education stakeholders who can impact on
   outcomes, and increase the effectiveness of these
   stakeholders in promoting good outcomes. Priority
   stakeholders are:
    headteachers
    designated teachers
    governors
    teaching and learning consultants
    EMAS
    Gifted and talented co-ordinator

4. To strengthen the links between specific developments for
   looked after children and mainstream developments
   designed to improve educational outcomes.

5. To improve the tracking and monitoring of looked after
children in order to identify at an earlier stage:
     those who need additional personalised packages of
     those who are gifted and talented
     special educational needs.

6. To evaluate the educational outcomes of Islington‟s looked
after children in terms of gender and ethnicity and apply
relevant lessons from developments elsewhere in the borough
e.g. EMAS.

7. On the basis of the survey of foster carer involvement in
education, develop a new strategy to increase the
effectiveness of foster carers in promoting good educational

8. Review the contribution of social workers to promoting good
educational outcomes and how this can be strengthened.
Introduce “team around the child” meetings of core key
professionals (foster carer, social worker, education and
health) to take place soon after a child becomes looked after

which explore in detail educational needs and arrangements.

9. Complete an analysis of the reasons and profiles of looked
    after children who have had exclusions. Use this to identify
   “risk factors” which can inform a preventative strategy.

10. To provide support for social workers and foster carer on
 how to identify the best performing schools in their area and
ensure the children they care for are able to access them.

11. The new Islington 14-19 Education Plan will include (as
does the 14-19 plan within the CYPP) specific targeted work to
support looked after young people. This will include
arrangements to ensure foster carers and social workers have
a good understanding of the 14 – 19 agenda.

12. Introduce a “learning mentor” scheme.

Section 5

Promoting health and wellbeing
1. The Care Matters Challenge
The physical and mental health of children and young people in care is too often poor in
comparison to that of their peers. Children in care have higher rates of substance misuse
and teenage pregnancy than those in the non-care population and a much greater
prevalence of mental health problems. There are strong connections between poverty and
poor health and these inequalities will have already impacted on many children in care.
For some this will be combined with early experience of trauma and abuse.

The solutions to addressing these inequalities are not straightforward and do not lie
entirely with health services. Secure attachments and friendships, healthy eating, hobbies,
access to positive activities and avoidance of risky behaviours are all important preventive
factors that make a major contribution to a holistic and integrated approach to health.

Promoting the health of looked after children
The roles of local and health authorities in addressing the health needs of looked after
children are informed by the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and
Maternity Services (2004) and Promoting the Health of Looked After Children (2002). The
government will re-issue this latter guidance and in 2008 on a statutory footing for both
local authorities and healthcare bodies. It will use the new guidance to strengthen
protocols and agreements with NHS bodies.

Substance Misuse
The new guidance will strengthen the need to address substance misuse. Children in care
are four times more likely than their peers to smoke, use alcohol and misuse drugs.

Named health professional
The Government will explore how best to improve co-ordination of health services,
including the potential benefits of a named health professional.

Understanding health needs
The Government will require local authorities and PCTs to conduct Joint Strategic Needs
Assessments, which will include the identification of the needs of care leavers and those at
risk of being taken into care.

Mental health
Despite the evidence of the prevalence of clinical mental health difficulties amongst
children looked after, many trusts fail to provide access to the help needed. CAMHS
services need to be able to adopt a preventive approach and work with and through a wide
body of people capable of helping and supporting the child. The Government will use
statutory guidance to ensure CAMHS provide targeted services; local authorities should
use the LAA process to increase focus on the mental health of children looked after; the
Government will include the mental health of children looked after in future local authority
performance management arrangements.

Sexual health
Children in care often have poor sexual health and may be more vulnerable to involvement
in risky sexual activity, exploitative and abusive relationships and early parenthood. They
need access to effective sex and relationship education (SRE) and easy access to
specialist services. School is a key source of SRE (part of PSHE). The Government will:
set out guidance on how schools can support the SRE needs of young people looked
after; provide foster carers with guidance on sex and relationship education; ensure that
pregnant teenagers / teenage parents have a lead professional who –co-ordinates a
comprehensive package of support.

Play and positive activities
The impact of play on the health of children looked after – and especially their mental
health – is well established. Local authorities are currently being invited to work with local
stakeholders to develop children’s play strategy. This – and the funding attached -
provides an excellent opportunity to address the play requirements of children looked after.
The Government will ensure that social workers work with the carer and the local authority
to arrange early years education for three and four year olds. For older children
involvement in organised leisure activities offers health and well-being benefits. The
Education and Inspections Act 2006 placed a duty on local authorities to ensure that local
young people have access to sufficient positive leisure time activities. The Government will
issue guidance to make clear that this duty must be fulfilled with rigour in respect of looked
after children.

Cost barriers
Meeting these standards will require local authorities to provide free access for looked
after children to the positive activities they own, commission or deliver. The Personal
Education Allowances can be used to support engagement in positive activities. The
Government will provide schools with funding to enable looked after children to access two
hours per week of extended school group activity, and two week of holiday provision free
of charge. The virtual school head will have a key role in ensuring schools deliver this.
The government will introduce regulations to ensure that looked after children will not be
charged for music tuition in schools.

Youth activities / volunteering
The Government will set out in guidance that the local authority must seek to improve
outcomes for looked after young people through involvement in youth work activity as a
priority group. They should ensure that volunteering forms a central part of the offer of

Planning and supporting participation
The Government will make clear in guidance that leisure activities should be included
within every child‟s care plan; it will be the role of the social worker to ensure that children
receive support to access activities. The Government will fund the production of packs for
carers and looked after children which provide information on things to do in the local area.
School swill be expected to support looked after young people partaking in extended
school activities.

Looked after children should have a strong focus at PCT board level; they must be a local
priority. The director of children‟s services must ensure that the director of Public Health is
contributing to the understanding of looked after children‟s health needs.

2. The Current Position in Islington

2.1 Promoting the health of looked after children
    Named health professional
    Understanding health needs

The health of looked after children is a high priority in Islington which has for several years
based its approach on the existing national guidance. The Primary Care Trust provides a
specialist Children Looked After Health Team. This comprises a community paediatrician
and three Nurse Health Advisors who focus on the general health of children, and a multi-
disciplinary team of child and adolescent mental health professionals (2.2).

The community paediatrician (who is also the Medical Advisor for looked after children)
and Nurse Health Advisors (NHAs) undertake the annual statutory health assessments
of children, ensure children are immunised and undertake some health interventions. The
NHAs deliver a service according to age, with one NHA dedicated to the under 11s, one
dedicated to 11-16yr age group and one dedicated to young people leaving care. The
NHAs fulfil the functions that the White Paper describes for the “named health
professional”. Key elements of the service provided by these professionals are:

      The Nurse Health Advisors undertake review statutory health assessments in a
       clinic setting but are increasingly flexible in their working, providing outreach visits
       for health assessments in venues more acceptable to young people and more
       convenient for carers and children. This also ensures a higher quality of health
       assessment. An audit undertaken comparing assessments done by this specialist
       service compared to other health professionals e.g. GPs, found the former achieved
       greater detail and produced more completed forms compared to the latter. Due to
       the large number of Islington looked after children placed outside the borough, the
       nurses have travelled to Devon, Lancashire, Kent and Essex.

      Health interventions, including immunisations, accompanying children to hospital
       appointments, pregnancy testing, Chlamydia screening and accompanying young
       people to sexual health clinics.

      The Medical Advisor is a member of Islington‟s Adoption and Permanency Panel,
       and provides medical and heath advice to the panel, counselling for prospective
       adoptive parents and advice on statutory health reports on adopters and foster

      Training is provided for social workers and foster carers around the health needs of
       looked after children.

      Support groups have been developed for foster carers looking after babies and
       teenagers; these are facilitated by the NHAs with social worker colleagues and
       provide training, support and a forum for problem sharing.

      A baseline measurement of current rates of obesity in Islington‟s looked after
       population has been completed and referral routes identified for those children with
       raised body mass index to services within Islington.

Assessing Islington‟s performance: Outcomes and Needs
    Islington‟s measured performance on providing basic health care is good. The PAF
      indicator is C19: The average of the percentages of children looked after at 30
      September who have been looked after continuously for at least 12 months, had
      their teeth checked by a dentist during the previous 12 months, and had an annual
      health assessment during the previous 12 months. This indicator as reported in
      September 2007 was 97%. This reflects 98.5% completion of annual heath
      assessments and 95% up to date dental assessments. In addition to this over 88%
      of children were fully immunised. The immunization figures are significant because
      they are higher than the general Islington child population rate, and full
      immunisation is associated with good health outcomes.

      An Ofsted inspection of Islington‟s fostering service in March 2008 found that the
       service was good in respect of health and that “it promotes well the health and
       development of children and young people in placement on a number of differing
       strategic and practice levels….Health care needs of young people are effectively
       monitored and addressed….Foster carers demonstrate a good understanding of
       their role in promoting the healthy lifestyles of young people in their care….Files
       evidence that health care needs of children and young people are identified early in
       placement negotiations .Treatment and progress is regularly monitored by staff. …
       statutory looked after children reviews prominently focus on young people’s health

Whilst the high levels of health assessments and other health activity is higher and better
than most other authorities, and whilst the evidence from the Ofsted inspection is that
health care needs are being addressed in individual cases, we do not yet have a
comprehensive picture of the overall health needs of Islington‟s looked after children
population, whether health plans to address the needs are being taken forward (and, if so,
in what time-scale) and whether Islington‟s looked after children become healthier as a
result of the high levels of activity. A key objective will therefore be to complete an audit of
the health needs, implementation of health plans and health outcomes of Islington‟s looked
after children which will contribute to the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment.

Assessing Islington‟s performance: Profile and priority
One of the advantages of having a specialist health service for looked after children is that
it ensures the focus on a vulnerable group of children who might would otherwise be
missed by mainstream services. This approach has been highly effective and needs to
continue. As with education, however, there is now a need to, in addition, ensure that a
wider group of stakeholders is involved and champions the health needs of these children.
Priority groups for engagement are:

      The Islington PCT Board
      Islington GPs
      Paediatricians and obstetricians at the Whittington and UCH hospitals
      The mental health trust

Some of the key questions to ask, given the health inequalities faced by these children

      How do we ensure that children placed in Islington are placed with the best GP
      Should looked after children be given priority in terms of waiting times for
       consultations and treatment?

2.2 Mental health
The term “mental health” covers a range of conditions. It includes formal mental illnesses
such as depression, psychosis and neurotic conditions. It also covers emotional and
behavioural conditions such as difficulty in making attachments to others, profound
sadness, grief, inappropriate and challenging behaviours. Islington already has a specialist
child and adolescent mental health service for looked after children and young people. In
addition, wider CAMH services in the borough can be accessed by looked after children.
CAMH services for looked after children were reviewed in September 2006. All the actions
arising from the review have been implemented. The service has improved referral
pathways and has standardised assessment processes for children living in the Greater
London area. Where Islington children and young people are placed out of London the
service identifies local CAMH services and assists with referrals, although there are still
considerable difficulties in securing services. If no local service is available private
treatment may be arranged and quality assured by the Islington CAMHS team.

The team works with around 80 looked after children and 30 care leavers per year.
Therapeutic work includes a range of interventions delivered to individuals, families and
groups. These include generic assessment of a child‟s mental health and, if indicated,
more specialist assessment e.g. psychiatric assessment, story stem assessment of
attachment. Treatments include individual counselling, cognitive behaviour therapy,
psychotherapy, family therapy with birth or substitute families, individual work with foster
carers and group work with carers.

Assessing Islington‟s performance
There are several challenges which arise when considering the mental health needs of
looked after children:

      the fact that so many of this group of children and young people will inevitably have
       some degree of mental health need

      the practical limitations of service and resource availability

      the complexity of so many children not being placed within their borough of origin.

      the lack of robust information about outcomes.

Analysing these challenges together suggests the development of a new approach which:

    Focuses available clinical CAMH services on early and regular assessment of need.
   This could be achieved by introducing a standard mental health screening tool (the
   Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire) which would be used when the child had been
   looked after for six weeks, then repeated each year. The outcome of this assessment
   would inform “team around the child” meetings. Such meetings would bring together
   key professionals in the child‟s life (e.g. from CAMHS, education, fostering etc) to

   explore in depth (and make plans for meeting) the child‟s needs in respect of physical
   and mental health, education and placement stability.

    Seeks to address” mental health” needs in the way a good parent would.
   Most parents, if their child started to demonstrate signs of mental ill health would not,
   as their first action, ask for the child to be referred to a mental health professional. They
   would try to understand their child‟s needs. Then through their own actions, those of
   their family and friends and by accessing mainstream support through schools and
   local facilities, they would endeavour to address those needs. For example, it can
   sometimes be forgotten that ensuring there is quality time between the child and their
   carer each day – time to talk, time to have a cuddle – could have a significant impact
   on a child‟s mental health. Only when all these have failed would they consider the
   need for more specialist help. Thus, having been identified by the process described
   above, the solution to the mental health needs could well be the accessing of non-
   medical responses. Only in the most serious or entrenched of conditions would be
   ongoing CAMHS treatment be necessary.

   Under this approach then, the role of specialist CAMH services for looked after children
   would be:
    To identify need
    To support and equip natural networks (e.g. the foster carer) to meet the need
    To help link the young person to non-medical, community resources
    To provide or arrange clinical treatment in complex cases.

2.3 Sexual health
As a borough Islington has teenage conception rates that are higher than the national
average, and rates in the borough have risen by over 8% since the 1998 baseline was set.
With regard to the looked after young people population, there is only one young person
under the age of 18 who is pregnant. Six care leavers (aged 18 to 21) have a child. A
range of activities is in place to reduce early pregnancy amongst this population e.g. young
men‟s groups; attending the “teens and toddlers” programme; positive links with PULSE
N7; training and advice for foster carers.
For the future, the biggest safeguard against early pregnancy is the young people having
aspiration. Therefore, improvements in educational achievement and engagement in
education, training and employment are likely to have the biggest impact. In addition,
because there is a set of indicators associated with heightened risk of early pregnancy, it
would be possible to identify, at an early stage, children at greatest risk and set in place a
prevention plan (this could be part of the “Team around the child” meetings) referred to in
2.2. Schools have a key role to play and will need to have in place robust SRE
programmes that prioritise vulnerable groups such as looked after children.

2.4 Substance misuse
2007 figures for the level of substance misuse amongst 214 looked after young people
aged 10+ (self reported at health assessments) are:
    26% (56) using one or more substance (including smoking)
    18% (38) using one or more substance other than cigarettes
    14% (30) using alcohol on a regular basis (22%*)
    10% (21) using cannabis on a regular basis (17%*)
    6% (13) using both cannabis and alcohol
   (*Figures refer to the previous years indicating a decrease in numbers).

      26 young people were identified as requiring support/intervention
      12 refused referral
      9 were referred and received an Islington service
      5 were already in receipt of services via other agencies (e.g. YOT)

   All looked after children and young people age 11 and over are screened for substance
   misuse within the context of their annual health assessment, with the aim of early
   identification and intervention. Professionals and foster carers receive basic drug
   awareness and screening training and information about local services and referral

   Current screening arrangements in Islington are very good. The problem is that young
   people do not want to take up the medical treatment responses that are then
   offered. Therefore a new approach would be, for such young people, to adopt an
   “assertive outreach” approach through the borough‟s integrated services for young
   people. The aim would be to involve them in controlled risk-taking activities (e.g. rock
   climbing) that would, over time, replace the role of drugs in their lives).

2.6 Play and positive activities
     Youth activities / volunteering
Over the past five years service improvements for looked after children and young people
have focused on health, education and placements. These were seen as the key need
areas to get right if looked after children were to flourish. Whilst this was the right priority, it
meant that there was little focus on the engagement of looked after children and young
people with more mainstream positive and enrichment activities: learning to play a musical
instrument, volunteering, sporting activities, regular use of leisure services, attending youth
clubs and other youth services, making use of libraries and museums, going to the theatre
and concerts, joining organised groups such as the scouts, choirs etc.

This is something that needs to change as it is clear that engagement in positive and
enriching activities has real benefits for children and young people in terms of their well-
being – such engagement promotes good physical and mental health, educational
achievement and aspiration. The creation of the new division for young people in the
borough from April 2008 (which integrates services for young people to include positive
activities, information, advice and guidance, and targeted youth support) will make it easier
to develop a play / youth activities / enrichment strategy for looked after children. Some
practical steps have already been made:

      Islington Community Service Volunteers have been running a short-term project to
       engage looked after young people in volunteering (involving 22 Islington care

      In 2007 a one year “enrichment project” was set-up to find out the level of
       engagement of looked after young people aged 10 – 13 in enrichment activities,
       and promote higher levels of engagement.

A key to greater engagement, following the principle of adapting what happens in
mainstream family life, is likely to be the influence of positive peers.

3. Outcomes and Priority Objectives for 2008 – 2011
The key outcomes Islington is seeking to achieve are:

1. Improved levels of physical and mental health. This will be measured with
reference to:
    the outcome of a baseline audit of health needs and outcomes.

        health gaps and inequalities between the Islington looked after population
         and the overall Islington child population and the national child population.

2. All looked after children and young people enjoy quality time with a main carer.

3.    All looked after children and young people are engaged in a range of
     enrichment and positive activities (including volunteering) commensurate to
     their needs and potential.

Objectives                                                           Time-scale
1.   Complete an audit of health needs, plans and
     outcomes, to inform the Joint Strategic Needs

1. An annual audit of need to be conducted to identify changing
   trends in need.

2. Raise the profile of looked after children amongst specific
   groups of health stake-holders who are able to promote
   positive outcomes, prioritising the following:
    GPs
    Obstetricians and paediatricians (Whittington and UCH)
    PCT Board
    Mental health trust .

3. To refocus the role of specialist CAMH service for looked after
   children on:
    Early identification of need (through screening programme)
    Supporting and equipping natural networks (e.g. the foster
       carer) to meet the need
    Linking the young person to non-medial, community
       resources, including participation in team around the child
    Providing or arranging clinical treatment in complex cases.

4. Introduce the use of multi-professional “team around the child
   meetings” for all children looked after for more than four
   weeks, and conduct at least annually.

5. To introduce training for social workers and foster carers on
   how to promote positive mental health – including the
   provision of “quality time”.

6. Islington schools to ensure that arrangements are in place for
   the delivery of robust SRE programmes for looked after
   children and young people, and that their attendance is

7. To set in place arrangements for the screening of looked after
   children aged 8 and above for high risk indicators for early

8. To ensure the Family Nurse Partnership programme is
   responsive to the needs of pregnant looked after young
   people and care leavers.

9. To introduce an assertive outreach service for young people
   misusing drugs and alcohol, to engage them with positive
   substitute activities.

10. To develop a strategy to increase the level of engagement of
    all looked after children and young people in positive and
    enriching activities. This will include:
         a. the development of a peer mentoring scheme
         b. an assertive outreach service for young people abusing
            drugs and alcohol
         c. a new focus on engagement in volunteering.

11. Ensure appropriate adult and peer befriending and
   mentoring arrangements are in place.

Section 6

Transition to adulthood
1. The Care Matters Challenge

For looked after young people, the move to adulthood is often more difficult than for other
young people. The opportunity to delay adulthood until they are financially and emotionally
ready is not always open to them, leading to an accelerated transition. Evidence indicates
that young people without parental and family support are exposed to greater risks than
other adolescents. There is an expectation that young people leaving the care system will
have the skills necessary to cope on their own such things as managing limited finances,
cooking, cleaning, and paying the rent. Coupled with potentially transient placements, this
can be an unstable platform for adulthood.

Young people aged 16 – 18 need to be given a voice in the decision making that can
change placement arrangements. The Government will set up a pilot in which significant
changes to a young person‟s care plan – such as a move to an independent placement –
will only be permissible where these follow as a result of a properly constituted statutory
review of the child‟s plan, chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer. An assessment of
the young person‟s needs must take full account of their feelings and wishes.

Placements post 18
The average age young people leave home is 24 years. If a young person is in foster care
they will usually leave their placement at 18 years. Young people in foster care can
develop strong relationships and emotional attachments with those who care for them.
Young people want the option to stay with foster carers longer. The government will pilot
arrangements for young people to stay with carers up to the age of 21.

Gaining skills to live independently
Young people living with their families are often given the opportunities to learn the skills
for independent living e.g. cooking, using appliances. Some looked after young people do
not have experience of these things and miss out on opportunities to learn.

Continuing support
The Government expects local authorities to ensure that personal advisers, social workers
and foster carers have access to information regarding schools, targeted youth support
services and other services that can signpost young people towards appropriate
information, advice and guidance. This should include access to opportunities for

Encouraging employment
Moving into employment can be daunting for all young people, but for some it is eased by
their parents, who will use contacts and scan job adverts to help their children into work.
Corporate parents should do the same e.g. by offering work with training and

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children
UASC will have an asylum status and an outstanding asylum claim. Pathway planning for
these young people should be concerned with helping them to make a successful
transition to adulthood in their home communities and resettled in their countries of origin.

Access to personal advisor to 25
Currently young people who have left care have access to a personal adviser to the age of
21. The Government plans to extend this age limit in situations which support the
achievement of educational qualifications / training.

Further education
The entitlement to a personal advisor until the age of 25 will give young people the
maximum opportunity to take advantage of their entitlement to free first time level 2 and
level 3 learning. It is essential that the FE system is flexible enough to support these
young people to re-engage with learning. The FE sector needs to prioritise the needs of
young people looked after.

Accommodation is a pressing issue for young people who want more choice; e.g. to have
the opportunity to try out living independently before they tale the plunge. Good practice
authorities have established move on arrangements for care leavers through a range of
approaches such as quotas from supported housing in the private rented sector and
choice based lettings schemes for social housing. Floating support and resettlement
services are effective in reducing the likelihood of young people losing their

Health services
There is a risk that those leaving care will fall between children‟s and adult health services.
The Government has set minimum standards for all health care settings to ensure they are
young people friendly. PCTs should have in place local strategies to promote easier
access to services by marginalised groups such as care leavers.

Going on to higher education
The Government wants to widen participation so that more people from backgrounds that
are currently underrepresented have an opportunity to participate in higher education,
including looked after young people. Financial constraints are a barrier to access. The
Government will require local authorities to provide a minimum bursary of £2000 for looked
after young people who go to university. Young people should have a choice of vacation

2. The Current Position in Islington
At 31st March 2008 362 young people aged 16 – 20 were entitled to a leaving care service
(i.e. statutory help to make the transition to adulthood); in addition there were 91 young
people aged 21+ with an entitlement. Over the three years 2006 – 2008 there has been a
steady decrease in the number of under-20 year olds entitled to a service (as the number
of young people in care and unaccompanied asylum seeking children has decreased) but
an increase in the number of post-21s with an entitlement, which arises from an increase
in the number continuing in education or training. Islington has a contract with Shaftesbury
Young People to provide a range of services to looked after young people aged 16 ½ - 17
and care leavers up to the age of 21, to fulfil its statutory responsibilities under the
Children Leaving Care Act. This contract has been in place since July 2003 and has
resulted in improved outcomes for Islington‟s care leavers. This contract has been
extended to 2010. During 2008 a major review will be undertaken to identify the needs of
Islington‟s care leavers in the light of increased standards and aspirations. This will form
the basis of a new specification for leaving care services to inform the tendering process
that will need to take place in 2009.

2.1 Right2BCared4
Islington is already practicing at the standard being set by the Government. Unlike other
local authorities, Islington‟s policy is that looked after young people should remain in their
foster placements until they are 18. Changes to a young person‟s care plan can only be
made at a statutory review chaired independently. There is a small number of young
people who are looked after on a “voluntary” basis who might cease to be looked after
when 17; but this only happens with their involvement, where there are no advantage to
remaining looked after and there is no reduction in the level of support.
Islington has a comprehensive and sophisticated Independent Reviewing Officer system
which challenges and holds the service to account where necessary. The role of the IRO
ceases when the young person leaves care, usually when they become 18. Islington has
extended the role of IROs in two cases to maintain an overview of arrangements post-18;
these are cases where there are complex transition issues to adult services.

2.2 Placements Post-18
Since March 2006 Islington has had in place a policy which allows some young people to
remain in foster placements post-18. This is where the young person turns 18 during their
final year of A-levels. These young people are able to remain living with their foster carers
until they start university. Also, where a young person is deemed to be exceptionally
vulnerable and require a longer period in a family an extension of up to a year can also be
agreed. Finally, some young people with specialist needs who qualify for support from
adult social care services are able to remain in their placements into adulthood.

With regard to those young people who have extended placements to complete A-levels,
six were supported in the academic year to September 2006; five in 2006 – 2007 and four
in 2007 – 2008. Three of the young people supported in 2005-2006 went on to university.
All except two who have benefitted from this policy to date are local Islington young

2.3 Gaining skills to live independently
As well as the direct support provided by foster carers, Shaftesbury runs “independence
skills” courses, teaching practical and emotional survival skills. Having developed
independence skills is essential to managing a tenancy effectively; young people‟s ability
to live independently needs to be systematically assessed before being given a tenancy.

2.4 Continuing support
Whilst the Shaftesbury Service does comprise professionals from a number of agencies,
there is still much that could be done to link care leavers into mainstream universal and
targeted services for young people in the borough.

Some work is underway through a pilot project run by CSV to engage care leavers in
volunteering; this needs to be extended.

2.5 Encouraging employment
The percentage of the general Islington young people‟s population aged 16 – 18 who were
not in education, employment or training was 9.5% at the end of March 2008. This
compares with a percentage of 31% for Islington looked after young people and care
leavers aged 16 – 18 years; this rises to 38% for Islington care leavers aged 19 – 21

Islington has a highly successful scheme, CareerStart, designed to engage young people
in employment opportunities and experience within in council departments and partner
agencies. 137 opportunities (opportunity = permanent jobs of one year or longer,
temporary jobs of under one year, work experience and work shadowing) have been
created since the scheme started in October 2005. 115 of these have been taken up by
young people. Some young people took up more than one opportunity (e.g. progressed
from work experience to paid employment); a total of 74 different young people have taken
up an opportunity. 24 of the 74 were offered full-time permanent posts (i.e. a contract of
one year or longer).

Project Progress is a specific structured, re-engagement program consisting of a personal
and vocational development course leading to accredited entry-level qualifications. It
provides personal development and employability skills training and general support to
assist a young person into education, employment or training. The project has worked with
100 care leavers since July 2005. This project does have potential to be developed further
to focus on strengthening young people‟s “people skills” – it is the maturity of these skills
which can largely determine whether a young person can obtain and, as importantly,
sustain employment.

2.6 Unaccompanied asylum seeking children
The number of looked after children in Islington who are unaccompanied asylum seekers
has been decreasing for a number of years. Most do get “leave to remain” in the UK, so
the scenario envisaged by the White Paper (i.e. repatriation) is rare.

2.7 Access to a personal advisor up to 25
This has already been arranged in a number of cases, and it is a welcome development.

2.8 Further education
Of the 453 young people aged 16+ entitled to a leaving care service at 31 st March 2008,
138 were studying in further education (30%). As with higher education, unaccompanied
asylum seeking young people make up a high proportion of the group compared with local
young people: 88 compared with 50.
93 of the young people in further education were being supported by the Shaftesbury
Leaving Care Service. These young people were attending over 30 different FE colleges.
26 were attending City & Islington College; 12 Westminster Kingsway College; 7 the
College of NE London and 6 Southgate College.

2.9 Accommodation
Islington care leavers do have access to council social housing accommodation through a
quota arrangement. There are positive partnership arrangements in place. Between April
2004 and March 2008, 179 tenancies were provided for care leavers. Of these, only five
have been evicted or abandoned. A new housing-related support service for vulnerable
young people will be starting in the borough in 2008 (through Supporting People funding)
and this will benefit care leavers.

Whilst the supply of fully independent flats is not a problem, there is a real shortage of
supported accommodation i.e. clusters of flats which have on-site, 24 hour support to help
young people develop the skills to eventually make a successful transition to fully
independent accommodation. Islington council has made capital funding available for the
development of such accommodation.

2.10 Health services / Adult Social Care
Islington Primary Care Trust has a dedicated health team for looked after children and
care leavers. One of the Nurse Health Advisors within the team focuses on the health
needs of young people leaving care, in a very proactive way to achieve engagement. Care
leavers also make use of the adolescent health resource at Pulse N7. Good results are
achieved in terms of health assessments, dental checks and immunisations of looked after
young people aged 16 and 17.

Effectively addressing the mental health needs of these young people and care leavers
remains more of a challenge, and there is a need to review current arrangements to
ensure that available CAMHS resources are focussed on the most critical points.

There is also a need to strengthen transition arrangements between children‟s social care
services on the one hand, and adult social care services and mental health services
on the other. There have been several cases where young people with complex learning
disability or mental health needs have experienced difficult transition pathways.

2.11 Going on to Higher Education
 Islington care leavers have been successful in achieving a high take-up of university
places. At March 2008 there were 37 care leavers at university. Of these, 27 were
attending London-based universities: the University of East London and South Bank
University both having six students, followed by University of Westminster and London
Metropolitan Universities with four each and City of London with three. The 37 students
were studying 24 different subject areas, the most popular being biomedical science
(seven students), nursing (four), social work (three), then accounting, law, computer
science (two each).

Islington has been ahead of Government thinking in that already gives young people an
annual bursary of £3000 for each year they are at university. Vacation accommodation is
not a problem for Islington care leavers at university as the majority attend universities in
London and have their own accommodation.

Unaccompanied asylum seeking young people constitute a large proportion of the number
going to university. Of the 37 Islington care leavers at university in March 2008, 27 are
unaccompanied asylum seeking young people. The challenge is therefore to increase the
number of care leavers attending university who are local Islington children.

It is clear that more could be done to increase the number of Islington care leavers aged
16½ - 20 years taking part in further education, higher education and training. This is an
area which needs to be championed and co-ordinated in a more robust and systematic
way than has been the case – particularly as the pathways and opportunities are now so
diverse and complex. There is considerable scope, for example, for developing productive
relationships with colleges and universities; for ensuring proper progression planning is
taking place for each young person to ensure they are on a pathway right for them.
Accordingly, a recommendation within this plan is to develop a virtual college.

3. Outcomes and Priority Objectives for 2008 – 2011
The key outcomes Islington is seeking to achieve are:

Young people leaving care receive the appropriate level of support from universal,
targeted and specialist services to enable them to have achieve a successful
transition to adulthood as evidenced by:

  i. Successful maintenance of suitable accommodation

 ii. Increased numbers of young people in employment, education and training
     (including increased number of care leavers attending university)

iii. Health (including mental health) needs being met.

iv. Positive, supportive friendship / relationship networks.

 v. Low “teenage parent” levels.

vi. Involvement in mainstream community and civic activities.

Objectives                                               Timescale
  1. To complete an analysis of the needs of
     Islington‟s care leavers. To develop a service
     specification based on this assessment.

  2. To determine whether services for young
     people aged 16 and 17 should delivered by an
     external organisation or “in house”.

  3. To conduct a new tendering exercise for
     leaving care services that are to remain

  4. To formally pilot the continued use of
     Independent Reviewing Officers in complex
     cases post-18.

  5. To introduce a formal assessment of
     independent living skills which is linked to the
     allocation of independent accommodation.

  6. To increase the number of care leavers
     engaged in volunteering.

  7. To increase the engagement of care levers in
     mainstream and targeted services for young
     people in the borough.

  8. To review arrangements to address the mental
     health needs of looked after young people aged
     16 and 17, and care leavers.

  9. To review partnership working and transition
     arrangements between children‟s social care,
     education and health services on the one hand,
     and adult social care and mental health
     services on the other.

  10. To take forward the care leavers capital project
      for the developed of supported accommodation.

  11. To establish a virtual college for looked after
      young people and care leavers aged 16½ – 20
  12. To extend the capacity of CareerStart and
      Project Progress; in particular, the development
      of more partnerships and employment
      opportunities in the private sector.

Section 7

The role of the practitioner

1. The Care Matters Challenge

The White Paper is clear that the reforms to services for looked after children depend on
having a highly skilled, valued, committed and stable workforce that delivers individualised
support to children and young people. Respondents to the Care Matters consultation felt
strongly that reform of the social care workforce in direct contact with children and young
people was important and that capacity and quality needed to be increased. Children and
young people wanted more stability and for social workers to listen and have more time for
them. More needs to be done , particularly to tackle recruitment and retention of social
workers, to ensure they are adequately trained.

Workforce remodelling
Remodelling the social care workforce means building a modern workforce where
education, social care, health and youth justice deliver integrated and multi-agency
support to improve outcomes for children and young people. As part of the strategy to
build a world-class children‟s workforce the government is helping practitioners across
universal, targeted and specialist services to assess children‟s needs earlier and provide
co-ordinated support by setting a common assessment framework; developing lead
professionals and an integrated qualifications framework to implement a common core of
skills across children‟s professions.

Key to enabling social workers to spend more time on core work with children is
modernising their working tools and environment. The Government will make further
funding available in 2008/09 to enhance local authorities‟ investment in ICT to enable
social workers to work flexibly and make efficient use of time.

Social work training and skills
The Government wants to improve the skills, training and support for children and family
social workers and increase the capacity of social workers to support other social care
staff. The Government will review the support offered to newly qualified social workers and
to managers and supervisors.

Social work recruitment
The Government wants to increase the numbers of skilled social workers in the children‟s
workforce as well as reduce staff turnover and reliance on agency staff. It will look at ways
to make the profession more attractive by developing a Newly Qualified Social Worker
status that would give a guarantee of support, training and induction to child and family
social workers.

Social work practices
Care Matters put forward social work practices as a new model of social work provision
which could potentially offer benefits both to children looked after and the professionals
who work with them. The Government will legislate to establish a variety of two-year pilots

across a diverse range of local authorities to test the model thoroughly. A practice would
be an autonomous organisation, whether a voluntary or community sector organisation, a
social enterprise or a private business responsible for employing social workers. They
would be commissioned by local authorities to fulfil all statutory duties in respect of looked
after children.

Reviewing care plans
Every looked after child must have a care plan based on an assessment of their needs.
They must be detailed live documents describing the aims and objectives for the child‟s
care and setting out the services required to meet the needs.

Independent Reviewing Officers
Since September 2004 statutory reviews of care plans must be chaired by an Independent
~Reviewing Officer (IRO) who plays a central role in ensuring that local authority care
planning addresses the goals and aspirations of children and young people. There is
widespread concern that the IRO rile is not being carried effectively across all local
authorities and that they are not challenging decisions made by local authorities even in
cases where professional practice is obviously poor. Unless care plans are rigorously
examined then the review is no longer an opportunity for informed reflection on the child‟s
progress and planning of the child‟s future. One possible solution is to ensure that IRO
services are completely independent from the local authority. The Government will hold
fire on this option, but is prepared to introduce it if other actions fail to improve the
situation: they will require local authorities to appoint a named IRO for each child and
require the IRO to spend time individually with each child prior to any review.

Independent Visitors
Independent visitors are trained volunteers who befriend and support looked after children.
Children and young people have said they would like greater access to the support of an
independent visitor. The Government will extend the opportunity to all looked after children
who would benefit from such a relationship; revitalise the scheme to increase the pool of

Advocacy and complaints
Where looked after children intend or do make a complaint, local authorities should
provide access to independent advocacy services.

2. The Current Position in Islington

Workforce Remodelling
The kind of workforce remodelling described by the White Paper is underway in Islington.
The move towards more integrated services and processes through use of the Common
Assessment Framework, lead professionals and a common language is underway. The
establishment of six Area Children and Young People‟s Partnerships in the borough will
bring together all agencies in those areas who have a contribution to make to the
wellbeing of children. There are already several multi-agency services operation in the
borough : Pulse N7, AMASS, the Youth Offending Service; social workers, family support
workers, health visitors and CAMHS workers in children‟s centres.

With regards to children‟s social care, these services have recently been re-organised into
a “children in need service” and a “children looked after service. The former brings

together all services supporting children in need in the community. Social work teams are
linked with the six Networks and will develop effective multi-agency working. The children
looked after service brings together all social care, education, health and voluntary sector
services for looked after children into one integrated service. Capital funding has been
secured to enable the co-location of all services for looked after children on one site in
Elwood Street by 2010.

Cultural change: Team around the child
Whilst Islington is taking forward structural and practice integration of services as
described above, the main challenge is to achieve a change in culture. The culture that
Islington is aspiring to is one in which different professionals from different agencies build
direct, positive relationships with each other (rather than remote relationships based on e-
mail); professionals are prepared to step outside of bureaucratic boundaries, to use
imagination and to take the risk of doing things differently. Above all, to approach their
work with children with the same aspirations and repertoire of solutions as a good parent
would in respect of their own child.

The new culture means putting the child at the centre and professionals building a team
around the child – rather than the child and their family having to find their way through the
maze of bureaucratic arrangements. For looked after children a key development referred
to throughout this plan is the introduction of “team around the child” meetings to ensure the
detailed multi-agency communication and planning is in place.

Social work: Recruitment, practice and skill development
Social workers play a pivotal role in the lives of looked after children, as they have
responsibility for driving forward the plan for the child. Looked after children and young
people comment that they do not like to have repeated changes of social worker and they
want social workers to visit regularly. Problems of social work recruitment and retention in
recent years have meant that many looked after young people have experienced many
changes of social worker with all the consequences of disrupted and delayed care plans,
key needs not being met and the child experiencing repeated losses of a trusted adult.

The position in Islington is much better than it used to be,; during 2007-08, on average
85% of social work posts were filled with permanent staff. Islington has achieved this is
part by ensuring that remuneration levels and other benefits are commensurate with other
London boroughs. However, successful recruitment and retention is also connected with
people‟s experience of working for the borough and its reputation. Islington‟s reputation as
a sound employer providing quality services for children is an improving one.

Looked after children need social workers who stick with them and with whom they can
build up a relationship. One of the reasons for introducing the integrated service for looked
after children has been to develop the specialist skills needed to work effectively with
these children and increase job satisfaction. Social workers do need to be able to spend
more direct time with the children and young people they are responsible for. As they
develop their skills and knowledge they should increasingly feel confident to deliver some
of the support the children need themselves rather than having to make an external
referral (e.g. to CAMHS). Ways of empowering social workers to be able to drive forward
plans for a child need to be explored. Finally, all looked after children and young people
need Life Story books to tell and help them understand the story of their lives and social
workers should lead on developing these.

With regard to skill development, as well as extensive training opportunities, the Children‟s
Social Care Service has introduced Practice Development Officer posts (one for each
service area) to deliver concentrated and intensive practice development to individual
social workers and teams.

Independent Reviewing Officers
Arrangements for the provision of IROs already exceed the standards of the White Paper.
100% of statutory reviews are chaired by IROs in Islington, and have been for several
years. Each child already has a named IRO (who remains their IRO for the period they are
looked after) who meets with them prior to each review. IROs are required to meet with the
child‟s parents or ascertain their views if they are not attending the review meeting.
Islington IROs have access to independent legal advice are proactive and alert senior
managers if they are concerned about the planning for a child and if they are not able to
move the situation forward themselves.
Islington has a well established local dispute resolution process which can involve up to
seven stages, the final one being the Child Executive. To-date, all disputes have been
resolved at the Assistant Director level. In 2007-08 there were four cases requiring
Assistant Director level intervention – all of these involved transition to adult service.

As a result of a recent pilot, a number of Islington IROs undertake work for Tower Hamlets
children and a cohort of Islington children have an IRO employed by Tower Hamlets.

Independent Visitors
Islington fund Community Service Volunteers to provide an Independent Visitor Service for
Islington looked after children. This enables Islington to provide independent visitors for
those children who qualify for one under current legislation. In the year ending March
2008, at any one time between 12 and 16 Islington looked after children had an
Independent Visitor. This service would need to be expanded when the Government
extends the criteria.

Complaints and Advocacy
Islington does provide a complaints service for children‟s social care complaints (these
include “children in need” as well as “children looked after” cases). In 2007/08, 70 formal
complaints were received and dealt with. Islington also funds the provision of independent
advocates for looked after children who wish to complain. 22 looked after children used an
advocate in 2007 / 08.

3. Outcomes and Priority Objectives for 2008 – 2011
The key outcomes Islington is seeking to achieve are:

1.   A stable workforce: low turn-over of staff (especially social workers) working
     with looked after children; low use of agency staff; social workers remaining in
     post for several years.

2.   A skilled confident and empowered workforce.

3.   Day-to-day practice of child care professionals is integrated; professionals
     make use of the full range of services and disciplines that are available, and see
     themselves as part of an extended family in which the members have skills and
     knowledge to share.

4. A positive culture is in place amongst child care professionals, characterised
          o Strong personal, creative relationships
          o Mutual respect
          o High customer care standards
          o Non-defensive practice, a willingness to take risks and step out of
            traditional practices.
          o Viewing the child and solutions as a good parent would.
5. All looked after children have a Life Story Book

Objectives                                                            Timescale
1. To take forward the wider integration agenda, fully
   implementing the Common Assessment Framework, lead
   professional and common language models.

2. To build effective relationships between all children‟s services
   and professionals based on the Area Children and Young
   People‟s Partnerships.

3. To develop a strategy to achieve the desired cultural change.

4. To introduce the use of “team-around-the-child” meetings for
   looked after children.

5. To ensure the Elwood site is developed within timescales as a
   base for the integrated children looked after service.

6. To introduce a pilot scheme for social workers to hold a budget
   for the looked after children they are responsible for.

Section 8
The role of the private and voluntary sectors
1. The Care Matters Challenge

The Government believes the voluntary and private sectors have an important role to play
in improving outcomes for looked after children. It expects local authorities to give careful
consideration to the contribution of local and national voluntary sector organisations in
delivering the White Paper. The private sector has a key role to play in the provision of
training and employment opportunities. HSBC and BT are two companies leading the
way in developing opportunities. There needs to be more networking between the private
sector, the third sector and local authorities so they can identify where their priorities

2. The Position in Islington

Islington already has some positive partnerships with the third sector in respect of looked
after children. Most of these partnerships are concerned with the prevention of children
coming into care. Some provide direct services for children in care – the main one being
with Shaftsbury Young People to provide a service for looked after young people aged 16
½ and 17, and care leavers.

More could be done to explore the potential role of the voluntary sector. At the same time,
Islington is a borough which is resident to many thousands of people with skills, time and
resources to offer. Whilst local residents have been seen as a potential pool for foster
carers and adopters, there is again scope to explore other ways in which local residents
can be empowered to make a contribution to either help children do well in the community,
or make a success of the care experience.

Finally, there is considerable scope to explore the role of the private sector: the
development of training and employment opportunities through businesses is an obvious
area, but other areas need to be explored e,g. private schools.

3. Outcomes and Priority Objectives for 2008 – 2011

The key outcomes Islington is seeking to achieve are:

      A high level of engagement by the private and voluntary sectors and local
       residents in corporate parenting.

Objectives                                                     Time-scale
To develop and implement strategies to increase the level of
involvement of
    the private sector
    the voluntary sector
    individuals and families who live and work in Islington

in activity which will promote improved outcomes for looked
after children and young people, and care leavers.

Section 9




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