14 January 2020
The Children’s Minister, Senator Sam Mézec, has announced today that a new support offer for children in care and those leaving care in Jersey has been developed.
The new entitlement and offer to looked-after children and care leavers is due to be published in the next few weeks and includes the provision of personal advisors who will be allocated to work with children and young people aged 14 up to 25.
The offer, which is the first of its kind to be published in Jersey, will also explain in full how the Government, as a corporate parent, will support children in care and those leaving care to access health, education, clothing, housing, holidays and travel.
There is currently no entitlement or offer for looked-after children or for those young people who have left care in Jersey and this will be the first official offer that sets out the benefits and support available for children and young people in care and leaving care.
Announcing the details of the proposals of the new service and entitlements, Children’s Minister Senator Sam Mézec said: “Meeting the needs of children in care and care leavers is a priority for the Government. Corporate parenting and care leavers is an area where it is accepted Jersey has failed its looked-after children.
“As a good corporate parent, we need to ensure that our children are supported to ensure they 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; ensuring a full range of health services and leisure activities are available to them; and 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.”
Senator Mézec added: “We know that Jersey has had policy and legislation gaps for children in care, which are not acceptable for a Government and community that puts children first. 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 approximately 90 young people in care and 100 young people who would be categorised as a care leaver and aged between 18 and 25.
Before or shortly after their 14th birthday, all children in care will be allocated a personal advisor (PA). The role of the PA will be to help guide and support the young person as they 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 PA is available for the young person until they reach 25.
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 25. This would put Jersey ahead of the UK where the Staying Put policy goes up to 21.
The full details of the offer and support entitlement is due to be published early next month.