All children in care over the age of 14 were offered ‘personal advisors’ as part of a £1.7m “landmark” support package announced last year – but less than half of eligible teens have been allocated one.
Over the past 18 months, five people have been hired to be a 'Personal Advisor'.
Out of the 33 children aged 14 to 18 eligible for a PA to "help guide and support them", only 11 have one allocated, according to information released following a request under the Freedom of Information Law by Express.
The PA scheme was announced by the Government in January 2020 as part of a £1.7m care leavers package, with one being allocated to all children in care before or shortly after their 14th birthday and remaining available until they reach the age of 25.
The role of the PA was described at the time as working with “the young person as they transition from child to young adult and ultimately move towards greater independence”, with practical support and advice, as well as a focus on “developing strong and nurturing relationships.”
Pictured: All children in care over the age of 14 are eligible to a personal advisor.
The Personal Advisor Service is voluntary and young people are free not to take up the offer, but all children in care have a lead social worker until the age of 18. The Government said social workers are the lead professional working to develop their “pathway plan”.
“When a young person is in the care of the Minister, their Social Worker is their lead worker and the Personal Advisor will build a relationship and help with planning,” a spokesperson said. “Young people who choose not to take up the offer of a Personal Advisor still have access to support from their Social Worker.”
However, previous reviews have found that many children in care have not felt that their wishes have been carried forward by social workers. Due to the high workforce turnover, many children have had multiple social workers, and find it hard to build relationships with new ones.
The allocation of PAs was planned, in part, to provide a level of stability in support available.
The Government said the remaining children in care will be allocated a Personal Advisor at an “appropriate time” in the near future as part of their care planning.
On average, each adviser works actively with 15 to 20 care leavers up to the age of 25.
“There is no specific time allocation, the time is based on the needs of the care leaver and dependent on the individual situation or circumstance that they are being supported with,” the Government said.
Pictured: Only five Personal Advisors have been recruited since January 2020.
Since the scheme was announced in January 2020, five Personal Advisors have been employed, with the first one having been hired in March 2020. No other member of staff was redeployed to fill any of the roles.
The Government declined to provide a monthly breakdown of how many advisors were employed, arguing it would “likely result in the identification of individuals”.
The role was advertised on the Government website with its purpose described as “support young people between the ages of 14 and 25, where they are looked after or have left care, (up to the age of 25) to become independent and inspire them to set ambitious goals for themselves, so that they successfully transition into independent adult life”.
The tasks listed included ensuring the young person’s safeguarding and welfare needs are met, reviewing their plan every six months, supporting them to achieve their potential by accessing education, employment or other learning with the help of other agencies and assisting them in accessing suitable accommodation and leisure opportunities, as well as managing a budget.
Between March 2020 and the end of July 2021, the scheme has cost £227,815.
There are currently no plans to recruit more advisors in the future.
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