A Government minister visited Sunderland to see the progress being made with children’s services.
Edward Timpson, Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families, visited Wearside to meet with staff from the new company responsible for children’s services in the city and city councillors.
During his visit, the minister spoke with social workers from Together for Children, the organisation now delivering children’s services on behalf of the local authority, supported by the Department for Education.
He also met Emma Dougherty who, having previously been a looked after child and supported by the Next Steps programme, has recently joined Together for Children as an assistant social worker after graduating from the University of Sunderland.
Together for Children’s Next Steps programme supports young people as they prepare to leave care.
Services for care leavers were among those judged inadequate in a July 2015 Ofsted report into children’s services, but have since been found to have made significant progress.
I am confident the launch of Together for Children is an important step in the improvement journeyEdward Timpson
In June 2015, the numbers of care leavers in suitable accommodation was 45%, but by February 2017, this had increased to 76%.
The number of care leavers who were in education, training or employment in June 2015 was 25%, this figure had increased to nearly 48% by February 2017.
Mr Timpson, said: “It was a pleasure to visit Sunderland, particularly to meet with young care leavers who have had such a positive experience.
“I am confident that the launch of Together for Children is an important step in the improvement journey of children’s services in this area.”
Council Leader, Coun Paul Watson, said: “We are delighted the minister took the time to come to Sunderland to talk to some of our social workers about their own experience of the improvements we have worked very hard to make.
“We know we still have a significant way to go before services are in the place we want them to be, but we are starting to make inroads in improving the lives of the children and young people and the leaving care service is just one example of where we have begun to make a difference.”
Alex Hopkins, Chief Executive of Together for Children, added: “It was good that the Minister was able to visit Sunderland to see the progress being made.”