27 February 2020
The Government of Jersey has today announced details of a major £1 million package of support for children and young people in care, and those leaving care.
The Care Leavers’ Offer and Support Entitlement for Looked After Children’ is the first of its kind to be made available by the Government.
The landmark package of support follows the approval of £1.67 million of new monies in the Government Plan. It will fund the everyday necessities that any loving parent would normally pay for, including doctor’s and dental fees, funding for further or higher education, bus passes and driving lesson and more.
The Care Leavers’ Offer and Support Entitlement for Looked After Children packages outline the help that the Government will provide to children in care and a guide for young people leaving care in areas including finance, employment, training, education, accommodation, health and wellbeing and even relationships.
Briefings are being held at Société Jersiaise, on Wednesday, 26 February, for States Members and representatives from across the Government in health, police, charity and voluntary sectors and the media.
Announcing the Care Leavers’ Offer and Support Entitlement for Looked After Children, the Children and Housing Minister, Senator Sam Mézec, said: "It is a great privilege to announce the details of Jersey’s first official support entitlement for children in care and offer for young people leaving care. This is a landmark event for Jersey that underpins the role of the Government as a corporate parent and a clear demonstration of our commitment to putting children first."
The new statutory entitlement and offer for looked-after children and care leavers has been developed and includes the provision of personal advisors who will be allocated to work with children and young people from age 14 up to 25. The offer also sets out information how the Government, as their corporate parent, will support them to access health, education, clothing, housing, holidays and travel.
Senator Mézec added: "Meeting the needs of children in care and care leavers is a priority for the Government. Corporate parenting and supporting care leavers are areas where it is accepted that Jersey has previously failed its looked-after children.
"As a good corporate parent, we need to ensure that our children are enabled to flourish regardless of their start in life. As well as providing safe, stable and loving homes, this also means providing and supporting our children and young people to access high-quality education. Further, it will ensure that a full range of health services and leisure activities are available to them, making sure that all items that a good parent would provide are fully funded. We want to raise the aspirations of all our children and ensure they are supported to meet their potential.
"This offer is a tangible demonstration that we are delivering on our pledge to children and young people and our commitments as set out in the Government Plan."
The number of young people for whom this support would be relevant is estimated to be around 90 young people in care and 100 young people aged between 18 and 25 who would be described as a care leaver. The total cost of the offer is estimated at £1.67 million, of which a £1 million is new, funded through the Government Plan and through existing budgets in income support and education funding.
Mark Rogers, Director General for Children, Young People, Education and Skills, said: "The content of the offer has been developed by a cross-government working group using case study examples. This has ensured that we have an offer that is both comprehensive and able to satisfy the corporate parenting test that asks: ‘Would this be good enough for my child?’
"The development work has also been undertaken in close partnership with the policy team as they work through the amendments to the Children (Jersey) Law. The offer is a work-in-progress which will be reviewed and updated regularly by the cross-government working group, in partnership with our young people in care, care leavers and charities."
The importance of strong relationships in supporting young people to thrive has been a key feature of the development of the offer and entitlement. This includes a proposal that could mean that care leavers have an option to remain with their foster parents until they are at least 21 and in some cases to 25. This would put Jersey ahead of the UK, where the ‘staying put’ policy only goes up to 21.
Before or shortly after their 14th birthday, all children in care will be allocated a Personal Advisor. The role of the Personal Advisor will be to help guide and support the young person to transition from child to young adult and ultimately move towards greater independence. While this will involve practical support and advice, the key focus will be on developing strong and nurturing relationships. It is proposed that the Personal Advisor is available for the young person until they reach 25.
More details can be found here