Beyond the local offer
It's been a great first six months of the year for our Care Leavers App. Two local authorities are 'live' with their own App on the App Store and Google Play, with two more to follow in the next few weeks, and the App will also be a key part of the Care Leaver Covenant - being delivered by Spectra First on behalf of the Department for Education.
We have also continued our ongoing consultations with care leavers and leaving care teams throughout the UK, meeting over thirty local authorities and getting their input and feedback and helping decide what happens next. As a result we are excited to announce that work has started with a bash on the next version of the Care Leavers App - which we're giving the catchy name of "version 2" - and it is due to launch in time for National Care Lavers Week in October 2018.
Up to now, it is fair to say that the App has focussed around the publication of information and advice, enabling local authorities to publish their local offer. This is about to change, with the introduction of significant new interactivity that has the potential to transform how leaving care teams engage with their young people.
Lets look at three main features that are on their way - in fact, the first has already arrived.
Live apprenticeship data from Gov.uk
The Care Leavers App now includes real-time, regional apprenticehip vacancies direct from Gov.uk, updated every day, seamlessly and with no effort required from local authority teams. Apprenticeships represent a great opportunity for care leavers to start employment and training - as recently highlighted by the Children's Commissioner. Care leavers can now be provided with unprecedented access to live opportunities through the App. We'll be doing the same shortly with volunteering opportunities as well.
Next, and by far the most requested feature to date; private and secure WhatsApp-style messaging within the App, which has the potential to make significant change to engagement with care leavers. Messaging will be encrypted and importantly, safely within local authority control, opening up a huge range of possible scenarios such as group messages inviting young people to events and activities, or messages to individual to quickly 'check everything is ok'.
Additionally, Messaging will support the secure sending of files - such as images and digital documents like PDFs. This means care leavers could be sent their own pathway plans, or copies of meetings minutes. The possibilities are exciting.
Groups, Posts and Consultations
Our third new development is a chunky new feature that will provide social media style interactivity and engagement through the App, but in a safe and controlled environment. Groups and Posts will be used to build relationships and help young people find that they have a place within the community. Consultations will help local authorities publish digital surveys through the App and truly consult and engage with their care leavers, getting their thoughts and helping to drive improvement.
These are exciting times. We believe the Care Leavers App has the potential to drive significant changes in the way that local authorities communicate and engage with their care leavers (or, to use a horribly buzzword, 'disrupt' the status quo).
And we are already making more plans for what version 3 might include....voice controlled search anyone?
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