Children in care over the age of 14 will soon be given personal advisors to “help guide and support them” into adulthood, as part of a £1.7million care leavers package being introduced by the government.
It is proposed that a Personal Advisor will be allocated to all children in care before or shortly after their 14th birthday and remain available until they reach the age of 25.
The role of the PA will be to “help guide and support the young person as they transition from child to young adult and ultimately move towards greater independence,” the government said. This will involve practical support and advice, but the key focus will be on “developing strong and nurturing relationships.”
Pictured: The Children's Minister, Senator Sam Mézec.
“A personal advisor is not the same as a social worker,” the Children’s Minister, Senator Sam Mézec explained.
“The ambition is for them to be a trusted person you would go to in the same way somebody might go to a relative or a family member; someone they can talk to, not just about what is to do with the children’s service but to help them with booking in a driving test for example.
“Lots of those [children in care] do not have people like that to turn to,” Senator Mézec added. “We would like them to get to know [the Personal Advisors] very well over the years.”
The Children’s Minister said the positions will be filled by paid staff whom his services will be hiring as part of their recruitment drive to move away from relying on agencies. Some of the PAs might be working on a full-time basis while others would be filling the part in addition to other roles.
Pictured: The Personal Advisors would be meeting regularly with the young people.
It is hoped they would meet regularly with the children they have been allocated to – as and when they feel the need to – but not on “one on one full time basis."
This new service is part of the first support offer being introduced for children in care and those leaving care in Jersey, which will be announced over the next few weeks.
The number of young people for whom this support would be relevant is estimated to be approximately 90 young people in care and 100 young people who would be categorised as a care leaver and aged between 18 and 25.
The government said one of the key features of the development of the offer was the “importance of strong relationships in supporting young people to thrive”. As such, the offer includes proposals to give care leavers the option to remain with their foster parents until they are at least 21, and in some cases 25.
This would put Jersey ahead of the UK where the Staying Put policy goes up to 21.
Pictured: The government is also suggesting allowing young people to stay in their foster family until the age of 25.
Meanwhile, recruitment for an Intensive Fostering Service will start in February, to allow children with complex needs to be cared for in a family-based placement in Jersey. It is hoped this will reduce the need to place some children in residential care in Jersey and off-island, which can cost more than £200,000 per year for each child.
The foster carers will be employed on a full-time basis and receive £40,000. They will not be able to undertake any other employment for the duration of their role.
The Intensive Fostering Service will be for children aged 0 to 18 years, with a range of complex or other specialist needs; experience of abuse or other trauma; significant health issues, disability, long-term condition or life-limiting illnesses; as well as their siblings.
Pictured: The intensive fostering scheme will allow children with complex needs to be cared for in a family-based placement.
“It has been recognised that the current provision does not offer placements to the full range of children’s needs such as those who may have the most complex or challenging needs or who are teenagers or siblings,” Senator Mézec said.
“Recruiting intensive foster carers to the Children’s Service will mean children with complex and challenging needs stay in Jersey and the spend on off-Island placements is reduced.”
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.
There are no comments for this article.