health & social care
local government
primary & secondary education
voluntary sector

Looked After Children and Care Leavers: Improving the Quality of Care and Education

health & social care

local government

primary & secondary education

voluntary sector

08:45 - 16:00

Wednesday 25 March 2020

America Square Conference Centre, Central London


This Forum will provide attendees with the opportunity to discuss innovative ways of supporting looked after children and care leavers. Participants will discuss the last policy developments including the Working Together to Safeguard Children Strategy, updated in 2019. Participants will hear from key organisations such as the Department for Education, Local Government Association and The Fostering Network on how to ensure that effective support is being provided to looked after children and care leavers. In addition, best practice case studies will share effective strategies on how to improve the care and education that looked after children receive. This Forum will help delegates to understand how to strengthen their multi-agency working to better support these at risk children and provide them with the best chance to reach their full potential. 


This Forum is specifically designed for the Local Government, Health Sector, Education Sector and Voluntary Sector. Typical job titles will include:

  • Social Workers
  • Head of Services for Looked After Children
  • Councillors
  • Adoptions Services Managers
  • Heads of Care Planning
  • Operations Managers for Care Services
  • Heads of Child Services
  • Virtual Head Teachers
  • Service Managers

This Forum is also open to the Private Sector to encourage debate and networking.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Mark Riddell MBE, National Implementation Adviser for Care Leavers, Department for Education (DfE)
  • Councillor Teresa Heritage, Vice Chair – Children and Young People Board, Local Government Association
  • Jackie Sanders, Director of External Relations, The Fostering Network
View the agenda and additional speakers

According to the Looked-After Children: The Silent Crisis report published in 2018 by the Social Market Foundation 100,000 children move through the care system each year. Looked after children are five times more likely to face exclusions at school and only 14% achieve 5 A*-C at GCSE level, significantly lower than the rate nationally. 40% of all care leavers are between the age of 19-21 are unemployed, compared to 14% within the general population.

In July 2018 the government published its Working Together to Safeguard Children guide in an attempt to promote multi-agency working to improve the welfare of looked after children. This guidance sets out the legal responsibilities of local authorities, schools, health services and voluntary organisations to encourage these organisations to work in partnership to deliver the best level of care to improve the outcomes of looked after children. The Department for Education also published the Promoting the Education of Looked-After Children and Previously Looked-After Children guide which aims to maximise the educational opportunities open to looked after children through the introduction of roles such as the Virtual School Head.

In July 2016, the Government published the Keep of Caring report that outlined a comprehensive long term strategy to support children transitioning out of care. A key policy commitment in this paper was the creation of the Care Leaver Covenant which aims to provide additional support to young people leaving the care system in order to encourage independence and confidence. Organisations from the private, public and voluntary sector are given the opportunity to commit to offering a support package that can include work placements or internships, one-to-one mentoring schemes, leisure activities or educational training.

It is vital that care providers are working together to safeguard looked after children and care leavers to ensure they have the best chance in life. With almost 25% of the adult prison population consisting of individuals who have previously been in care, it is vital that services provide looked after children and care leavers with the best chance of breaking the cycle and improving their outcomes.


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair’s Welcome Address

Katharine Sacks-Jones, Chief Executive, Become Charity (CONFIRMED)


Morning Keynote: Outlining the Landscape of Care for Looked after Children

  • Outlining the current landscape of services aimed at Looked After Children and Care Leavers
  • Highlighting the work of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Looked After Children and Care Leavers including supporting LGBTQ+ children in care and promoting access to health services
  • Understanding the importance of partnership and collaboration across the public and voluntary sector in order to provide effective services for children in care
  • Examining the current challenges facing care services and ensuring that children are given an equal opportunity to succeed, including improving the education and healthcare provisions available to them

Steve McCabe MP, Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group for Looked After Children and Care Leavers (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Outlining the Government's Vision for Improving the Welfare of Looked-After Children 

  • Highlighting the importance of a child-centred approach to safeguarding and exploring the key needs that children have expressed, such as respect and support
  • Exploring how a co-ordinated approach to safeguarding children can help organisations and agencies to deliver their key role and identify any concerns early
  • Examining the impact that early intervention can have on providing more effective safeguarding measures, including the prevention of further problems
  • Clarifying the organisational responsibilities of schools, health professionals, social care services, police and charities in relation to child safeguarding
  • Sharing guidance on how organisations can take a multi-agency approach to promote child welfare

Mark Riddell MBE, National Implementation Adviser for Care Leavers, Department for Education (DfE) (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Outlining the Role of Local Authorities in Ensuring Effective Care of Looked After Children and Care Leavers

  • Understanding the role of local authorities in improving the care provisions of looked after children and care leavers by working with education institutions and health services to provide joined-up support
  • Exploring how local authorities can help to reduce the amount of children entering care in the first instance by implementing proactive policies to support at-risk families
  • Outlining the importance of understanding the views of children when designing children’s care systems to ensure that they are tailored to the needs of children
  • Discussing how councils can ensure that no children are left behind when transitioning between pre and post-16 services and are supported as care leavers

Councillor Teresa Heritage, Vice-Chair – Children and Young People Board, Local Government Association (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Improving the Quality of Healthcare for Looked After Children and Care Leavers Through Adequate Training

  • Outlining the health inequalities that exist for Looked After Children and Care Leavers and how public sector organisations need to coordinate services to provide a supportive services for these vulnerable children and young people
  • Understanding the importance of appropriate education and training for practitioners to ensure they are able to support the specific needs of looked after children and care leavers
  • Sharing the journey five years on from the publication of the Looked After Children: Knowledge, Skills and Competences of Health Care Staff framework
  • Discussing the need for improved transition between child and adult services for care leavers and how improved training could increase understanding for the complex needs of this vulnerable group

Renu Jainer, Consultant Pediatrician, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and Looked After Children Lead, Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health (RCPCH) Child Protection Standing Committee (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Implementing Effective Preventative Measures to Stop Children Entering Care

  • Exploring Staffordshire County Council Edge of Care programme which aims to provide innovate support for families at the earliest point to prevent children from being taken in to care
  • Highlighting how Staffordshire introduced an Intensive Prevention Service which offers young people at immediate risk of coming into care a solution-based 12-week service
  • Assessing how this programme aims to reunify families by supporting young people in long term care to return home by providing them with short breaks and intensive support
  • Understanding the impact that this programme has had on reducing the number of children entering care, including 80%  reduction in the number of the cases in 2016/17, contributing to £2 million savings for Staffordshire County Council
  • Sharing guidance on how to create a sustainable programme through a multi-agency approach to provide services, including health services in cases where drugs or alcohol abuse is present

Richard Hancock, Deputy Director of Children’s Services, Staffordshire County Council (invited)


Case Study: Improving Attainment and Outcomes for Looked After Children Through Education

  • Examining the information that should be contained in Personal Education Plans (PEP), including up-to-date progress data and personalised learning targets that are detailed and set out specific goals on how these targets can be reached
  • Assessing how Virtual School Heads can work in partnership with local schools to manage looked after children and help monitor the progress of PEP, resulting in 72% of looked after children meeting the expected standards of English and Maths
  • Exploring the key challenges facing looked after children in an education setting, including frequent school moves and a higher likelihood of having complex emotional needs as a result of trauma or abuse
  • Highlighting the importance of having a designated teacher within a school who is responsible for promoting the educational achievement of looked after children, including providing a constant source of support

Lynsey Burridge, Virtual School head, Trafford Council and Chair, National Association of Virtual School Heads (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Inspecting Health Services for Looked After Children- Creating Effective Services

  • Discussing the key findings from the 2016 ‘Not Seen, Not Heard‘ review, which found that two-thirds of children interviewed believed that they weren’t involved in their care and found it difficult to transition to adult services
  • Exploring the recommendations made as a result of this report, including increasing information sharing to improve the quality of multi-agency working by improving communication
  • Highlighting how the child safeguarding and looked after children inspections programme has been evaluating local healthcare services for looked after children and the impact they have
  • Outlining the key areas that these inspections have reviewed including the contribution that health services have on promoting the health of looked after children and liaising with other agencies to create a fluid service

Nigel Thompson, Head of Inspections, Children’s Health and Justice, Care Quality Commission (CQC) (invited)


Special Keynote: Outlining the Current Landscape of Fostering Services Across the UK

  • Discussing the State of the Nation’s Foster Care 2019 report, including 48% of carers revealing that they are caring for a child with mental health needs that are not receiving specialist support
  • Highlighting the need for a learning and development framework that can support foster carers to be able to care for children that have complex needs as a result of past trauma
  • Exploring the importance of ensuring stability for children in foster care, including how a child’s psychological and emotional state may be compromised by an unexpected move, and how local authorities should increase their work to prevent this
  • Examining the current attitudes towards fostering from carers, including only 51% saying that they would recommend fostering to others and the steps that can be taken to increase the number of foster carers, including receiving adequate support

Jackie Sanders, Director of External Relations, The Fostering Network (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Highlighting the Needs of Looked After Children Entering the Justice System

  • Sharing research around the disproportionate numbers of care leavers and looked after children in the youth justice system, and exploring how and why criminalisation of these children exist
  • Discussing the relationship between children in care and offending, such as a lack of support network, loneliness and unsuitable housing situations
  • Exploring the Criminal Justice Projectset up by the Care Leavers Association (CLA) which works to highlight the needs of care leavers in criminal justice settings
  • Highlighting the CLAs user led peer networks in prisons across the country, the work with PCCs and regional policy and practice developments

Darren Coyne, Project Manager, The Care Leavers’ Association (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Working in Partnership to Deliver Outstanding Mental Health Services for Looked After Children

  • Highlighting how East Sussex County Council jointly commissioned the development of the Adopted Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (AdCAMHS) with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to support the complex psychological and emotional needs of adopted children
  • Exploring how the consultation process gives the adopted young person the opportunity to talk about their past experience as well as a consultation with the adopted parents to ensure they are aware of any trauma
  • Examining how the service also works with schools through the local ‘Virtual School’ to train them about attachment issues which can be common with looked after children and how to support adoptive families
  • Sharing the success of this service and how the collaboration between local authorities, health services and schools allow for personalised service for each child and family

Claire Padgham, Practice Manager, Adoption Support, East Sussex County Council (invited)


Case Study: Delivering Effective Services to Reduce Substance Abuse Amongst Vulnerable Children

  • Outlining how Humankind were commissioned by Gateshead Council to provide drug and alcohol misuser services to young people including educating children on the risks of substance abuse
  • Discussing the benefits of dedicated services for groups of adults and groups of young people to cater to differing needs and offer early intervention services for at risk children
  • Understanding the importance of tailoring substance misuse services for young people and ensuring that approaches are based around education young people so they are able to make informed choices
  • Sharing the success of this programme in reducing drugs and alcohol misuse for young people in the area and expanding services to create more bespoke work within the LGBTQ+ community

Kirsty Martin, Project Manager, Humankind (CONFIRMED)

Lyndsy Richardson, Complex Needs Worker, Humankind (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Closing Remarks

*programme subject to change

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