Young adults leaving council care in Barnsley have a new set of guidelines about what they can expect from the local authority which has acted as their ‘parent’ as they make progress in the adult world.
Those in care have played a constructive role in drawing up the rules and council staff say they have worked hard to ensure they provide the best support possible for those making the transition to independent living.
But even so a six months settling in period has been set out, with a review of the new procedures expected in the Autumn to decide whether any changes are needed.
The council’s ‘offer’ to those leaving its care includes helping to ensure they make progress with education, training and work, as well as find accommodation and looking after their health, wellbeing and relationships.
A key element of the service is the right for those leaving care to have the support of a personal advisor, available to those aged up to 25, to help identify council services which could provide help.
Barnsley Council chief executive Diana Terris told the council’s ruling cabinet – which has adopted the policy – “We want to support them as much as we can, there has been a lot of work and talking to them.
“They have played a major part in this. We have looked around at best practice and tried to make this offer as strong as we can, including exemptions on council tax, which we are all delighted about.
“It is quite right we have taken some trouble over it and we are pleased to present it,” she said.
The Government has provided a grant of just below £9,000 towards the cost of the project.
Documents which will be provided to young people in care make it clear the council will encourage those aged under 18 to stay in their care, but support will be offered to those aged 16 and above to find suitable accommodation if needed.
There will also be support available for those seeking to go to university, with assistance and guidance over tasks such as obtaining tuition fees, loans and travel costs, as well as ensuring accommodation is available between university terms.
Those who leave council care and are aged 16 to 19 qualify for benefits of £57.90 a week when they are in semi-supported accommodation and a grant is also available to the value of £2,000 to provide essentials needed for a new home.
The council service also includes a gift of £30 at Christmas, birthdays and for other celebrations.