Government inspectors give verdict on East Lancashire support for young people leaving care

-Credit: (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)


Government inspectors have praised and East Lancashire local authority’s improvements to the support it provides to young people leaving its care.

A team from Ofsted visited Blackburn with Darwen Council on April 23 and 24. They examined its arrangements for care leavers aged 18 to 25.

Now Ofsted has written to the council praising the effective improvements to the quality of support for young people leaving care in a feedback letter published on Friday May 24. In April 2022 the authority’s bosses launched a £1million drive to improve children’s services in Blackburn with Darwen after an inspector’s report found they were falling short of the threshold to be rate as ‘good’.

It followed an Ofsted review of the council’s provision for vulnerable young people the previous January which found it ‘required improvement’ across all four major headings.

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This was a downgrading from a similar 2017 inspection which found the performance of the borough children’s service department to be good overall.

During April’s visit the Ofsted inspectors focussed on:

• the quality of planning for care leavers over the age of 18 years;
• the provision of support for care leavers including their health and education needs and securing accommodation appropriate to their needs;
• the offer available for care leavers and their knowledge of this; and
• the quality of management.

They found that the council had invested in improving the service to care leavers and had suitable systems to help leaders fully understand the experiences of young people leaving care. They identified robust plans to support care leavers across education and training, physical and mental health, and developing their independence.

The Ofsted feedback also highlighted the strong relationships personal advisors have with the care leavers. The inspectors recommended that pathway plans should be completed in appropriate timeframes to reflect any changes in young people’s circumstances and that the frequency of visits to care leavers should be increased.

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s children’s services boss Cllr Julie Gunn said: “I’m incredibly proud of our teams who support our young people leaving care. Their work is integral to our corporate mission of supporting all the borough’s children and young people to have opportunities to fulfil their potential.

“This focused visit has recognised all the hard work and the commitment that our Leaving Care team has for our children and young people.”

Jo Siddle, the authority’s strategic director for children and education, said: “Children’s services are on an improvement journey, and we take on board all the feedback from the inspectors. We were ready for this visit, having made improvements to our service for care leavers in Blackburn with Darwen.”