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1st October 2019

Care Leaver Covenant

The Care Leaver Covenant is approaching the first anniversary of its national launch. And progress to date owes much to the way colleagues working in local government have embraced it.

But as those of us leading in complex organisations know only too well, there is always more to be done – especially when it comes to children’s services, where standing still is not an option.

At its heart, the Covenant is about improving outcomes from care leavers.

It seeks to create practical, specific offers, from organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors, to support care leavers aged 16-25 in living independently.

The Covenant links care leavers to offers such as discounts, financial support, exemptions, personal development, workshops, training, work experience, apprenticeships, and internships.

It has five key outcomes in mind, helping care leavers to:

  • be better prepared to live independently;
  • have improved access to employment, education, and training;
  • experience stability in their lives and feel safe and secure;
  • have improved access to health support; and
  • achieve financial stability.

The Covenant also recognises that whilst councils have legal obligations to support care leavers, wider society has a duty to act as a lifelong ‘universal family.’ Offers are needed and welcomed but are not enough on their own. Our children and young people also need to be wrapped in love and to feel it. So, the Covenant also seeks to broaden the idea and reality of universal parenting for those who are leaving care and look to us to be their lifelong family.

Whilst the spending squeeze is apparently coming to an end (coughs loudly), councils are a long way from having the financial resources they need. However, there are other ways through which we support can be given.

Through planning and procurement, there are wider opportunities to help care leavers. From council tax exemptions to free travel passes; apprenticeships to paid internships; and a range of economic development and employer engagement programmes, commercial partners as well as councils can broaden the local offers we make.

With this in mind, the Covenant has collaborated with corporate law firm Trowers & Hamlins to share an early draft of a ‘Toolkit for incorporating social value into public procurement’ at the Solace Summit this month.

The Covenant’s leadership will also be exploring how councils can go even further in adopting a ‘whole organisation approach’, recognising that being a good parent goes well beyond commitment from children’s services and its care teams. We want to support your endeavours to ensure that those leaving care are everyone’s interest and responsibility.

I look forward to seeing you in Solihull at the 2019 Solace Summit.

Mark Rogers

Chair, Advisory Board, Care Leaver Covenant