The Care Leavers App and the Care Leavers Local Offer
One of the benefits of the Care Leavers App is the significant role we believe it can play in helping local authorities meet new duties, including the publication of a Local Offer for care leavers.
The Children and Social Work Act 2017 has introduced the new requirement with a Local Offer that focuses on ensuring care leavers are aware of the services available to them in their immediate area. The guidance outlines six key areas that should be featured such as health and wellbeing, accommodation, education and participation in community.
The guidance also states that the Local Offer should be co-produced through consultation with users and services, and that the Offer should be updated on a regular basis.
It has been interesting to draw parallels between what is asked for in the guidance and what the Care Leavers App can provide. We have been specifically asked by many local authorities about the role that the App can play in meeting the new duties. Let's look at some individual points:
- the Offer should be co-produced. Everything about the App has been driven by care leavers, via a series of workshops and participation sessions we ran throughout 2017. The way that the App works, looks and the content it consists of has been entirely decided by care leavers.
- the Offer should be free of jargon, easy-to-read and help young people whose first language might not be English. Content throughout the App is entirely manageable by administration teams who can quickly make changes in response to user feedback, and push those changes to everyone who has the App installed. And the App supports the publication of content in multiple languages, again completely customisable by each individual local authority.
- as well as the subjects mentioned in the guidance, care leavers have told us that information about benefits and entitlements is most important to them. The App allows national statutory information and any local initiatives to be published - such as exemption from council tax.
- care leavers told us that social isolation was a big problem when moving to independent living. The App includes a listing of local events and activities, helping to get young people engaged in their community - there is also a searchable directory of local services and support groups that can offer help to care leavers.
- care leavers told us getting hold of the right people within their local authority teams was difficult. The App includes a ‘VIP’ section where care leavers can upload the phone number and email address of their ‘very important people’ so they can get in touch quickly.
- finally it’s worth noting that the Care Leavers App supports 'push notifications’, that can be used to periodically nudge care leavers to check their App for any updated information (such as new legislation) or new services available in their area.
Beyond the guidance, the Care Leavers Local Offer also offers an opportunity for local authorities to re-affirm their commitment to corporate parenting principles and ensure that care leavers feel they remain cared for. Care leavers have told us that sometimes support 'drops off a cliff' when they leave care.
Following feedback and input from local authorities across the UK, we are already working on new features and functionality for the next version of the Care Leavers App. These include:
- publishing local apprenticeship schemes and opportunities for volunteering through the App.
- real-time messaging between care leavers and their leaving care teams.
- linking the App to individual Pathway Plans.
If you would like to know more about the role that the Care Leavers App can play in your Care Leavers Local Offer, then please get in touch.
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