Kent Cares Town

Thanks for visiting Kent Cares Town. This website is for all young people who are or who have been in the care of Kent County Council. Choose the section that best suits you to find out more.

Primary

This is the section to find out everything you need to know about being in care if you are aged under 11. Click on the superheroes below!



Secondary

Aged 11 to 16? Click below to learn about being in care, how Kent County Council supports your education and health and lots more.



Moving On

Click here to find out about what happens when you turn 18. The information here will help you plan for when you leave care and start to live independently.

You will also find lots of useful information to help you once you are a care leaver.

The first Young Adult Council meeting of 2019 will be held in February.  Find out more about YAC here.

Get Involved!

There is a gallery of wonderful art created by children in care and you can even send in your poems, stories and experiences to our Writers’ Corner!

Latest News

Keep up to date with all the latest news!

Experience University with Canterbury Christ Church

Interested in attending university in the future?  Canterbury Christ Church University is holding a three day Easter School and all Kent Children in Care in Years 7 to 11 are invited to attend!

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Between Wednesday 6th and Friday 8th March, you can take part in sessions with a creative writing theme and complete a ‘Degree in a Day’ focusing on the epic story Beowulf.  Not only will the sessions be fun and educational, the experience will also help you if you want to apply to university in the future.  It’s a great thing to include on your personal statement or talk about at interviews.  The Easter School is a great way to meet other young people too!

Each day will run between 10.00am and 3.00pm at the Canterbury Campus and all costs, including travel to the university by taxi, will be met by Canterbury Christ Church University.  You can see the timetable of the days here.

You can apply online or if you just want to find out a bit more about the Easter School, contact Charlotte Welsby (or ask your carer or social worker to do it on your behalf):

Email: charlotte.welsby@canterbury.ac.uk

Phone: 01227 921845

This is a great opportunity to come and experience University life in full so why not speak to your carer, teacher or social worker and sign up!

Voices 2019

Are you a child or young person up to 25 years old with experience of the care system and something to say? If so, then why not enter Voices, a creative writing competition organised by Coram Voice!

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Coram Voice is a national charity that supports children in care and care leavers and makes sure their voices are heard.  Every year, it holds a creative writing competition for care experienced young people to showcase their creativity and improve understanding of their experiences.  Coram Voice are excited to announce that this year’s competition is now open for all your incredible entries until Midnight on 10th February.

The theme for 2019’s competition is ‘Growing up’ and you could win up to £100 in shopping vouchers. Shortlisted entries are also showcased on a special app featuring writing from children in care.

Your entry can be a story, a poem, rap or newspaper article – anything – as long as it is about ‘Growing Up’ and 500 word of less. You could write about your experience of growing up so far, how you feel that you’ve changed or grown, or what you hope for the future.  Perhaps you’ve got some advice for a younger version of yourself, now that you’re getting a bit older and more experienced.

There are four age categories: primary school, lower secondary school (age 11- 14), upper secondary school (age 15 – 18) and care leavers (age 19 – 25).

Enter the competition here.  You can type your entry in to the space on the form or you can upload or scan a photo of your work.  The judges do need to be able to read it though, so make sure your writing is clear.  Find out more about the competition or read previous years’ entries here.

So, what are you waiting for? Good luck with your entry!

 And don’t forget, anything you submit could also be showcased on Kent Cares Town so why not send it to VSK_Participation@kent.gov.uk too!

Taking Over Whitehall!

In November, Virtual School Kent was very excited to support two young people, Bradley and Chelsea, take part in the Whitehall Takeover, a month-long event organised by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner. 

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Before the Takeover began, Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England said, “Children in care are this month taking over the Government and experiencing Whitehall’s corridors of power first-hand.”  Young people from around the country got to spend a day in London with Government Ministers or officials finding out what it’s like to make decisions at the highest level.

Bradley shadowed Kent MP Kelly Tolhurst, the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whilst Virtual School Kent Apprentice, Chelsea got to experience decision making at the Department for Education with Lord Agnew, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System. 

Both of the young people were able to share their experiences and fresh ideas with key decision makers and see how central government works. 

Bradley enjoyed the opportunity to receive a personal tour of Parliament (including the roof garden!), watch a key Brexit debate from the public gallery in the House of Commons and accompany the Minister to debates and speeches. 

Chelsea loved listening to (and taking part in!) meetings about adoption and faith schools.  She also had the chance, alongside other young people in care, to share her views and experiences about not just education, but a range of issues that face Children in Care and Care Leavers with Damian Hinds, Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families and Anne Longfield herself.

The Takeover Challenge was a great way to get young people’s voices heard at the highest levels and give them experiences they otherwise wouldn’t receive.  

Want to get involved in opportunities like this? Contact us via the website!

Write, Speak, Share on IMO

We always love hearing your stories, poems and experiences of being in care and, with your permission, sharing these on this website. 

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You can contribute to Kent Cares Town by emailing VSK_Participation@kent.gov.uk or sending something to VSK, Kent County Council, Worrall House, 30 Kings Hill Avenue, Kings Hill, ME19 4AE.

However, you can also share your thoughts with young people around the country by sending your work to IMO – write, speak, share.

IMO is a voice for teenagers in care and for care leavers. It is somewhere you can share stories, experiences and achievements, get and give advice, and find loads of great free stuff!  They share blogs, vlogs, podcasts and more from teens in care, and they link Children in Care Councils in England together around common campaigns.  They also share opportunities for care leavers, like jobs and apprenticeships.

IMO was created by the Children’s Commissioner for England and a group of teens with care experience. If you would like to join this network and have a say in how IMO is run, get in touch with IMO!

What IMO says, “Whether you’re in care, leaving care, or a care leaver, IMO is here to represent you and your views. We need you to share your stories, experiences and advice with us, to help other teenagers and to make sure decision-makers know what you want. If you want to have your voice heard, send us stuff!”

So why not take a look at the website and see if there’s anything you can contribute to IMO (and Kent Cares Town!).

Cick here to view older news items

Corporate Parents

When you are in care, your corporate parents are the people who have responsibility for keeping you safe and looking after your wellbeing. They make sure your time in care is as positive as it can be, listen to your opinions and have your best interests at heart. They will help you if you have a problem and care about how you are feeling.

This isn’t just one person but a large group of different people. Your corporate parents include staff in Kent County Council like your social worker, personal adviser or independent reviewing officer, doctors, nurses and other health care workers, the police, staff in schools and colleges and others who work with and look after you. It also includes senior staff at Kent County Council. Some of these people are shown below.

Click on the images to find out more

Matt Dunkley CBE

Corporate Director Children, Young People and Education

“I want you to help me make Kent the best place for children and young people to grow up, learn, develop and achieve.”

Roger Gough

Kent CC Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education

“I think it is really important that children in care have people to speak for them, to support them and to promote their interests.”

Ann Allen MBE

Deputy Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education and Chair of the Corporate Parenting Panel

“We need to ask ourselves ‘what is a good parent?’ and do the same as corporate parents as we would for our own children.”

Sarah Hammond

Director Integrated Services (Children's Social Work Lead)

Stuart Collins

Director Integrated Services (Early Help and Preventative Services Lead)

Caroline Smith

Interim Assistant Director for Corporate Parenting

“As a Corporate Parent, I want the absolute best for our children and young people, ensuring they get the right support to achieve their full potential.”

Tony Doran

VSK Headteacher

“The best thing about my job is seeing the great outcomes achieved by the amazing young people that I serve.”

Nicola Anthony

Interim Head of Fostering and Registered Manager

“Our aim is to recruit and supervise the very best foster carers to promote a safe and secure environment for children and young people in Kent.”

Paul Startup

Head of the Care Leavers 18 Plus Service

“The best thing about my job is working with the staff and the young people, being around people and trying to help them as best as I can.”

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Matt Dunkley CBE

Corporate Director Children, Young People and Education

I am the Corporate Director for Children, Young People and Education Services. I am really pleased that we have now brought together all services for children and young people in one department. As Director, it means that I have a legal responsibility to ensure safeguarding is everyone’s priority and to make sure that Kent County Council is the best parent we can be for all of the children in our care and for our care leavers.

I will want to meet as many of you as possible and to hear whether we are doing the best we can for you. You will always be my highest priority in this job. I have over 33 years experience in Education and Children’s Services and this includes working in East Sussex, the United States of America, Australia and most recently Norfolk. I am a father to three children and grandfather to one. When I was growing up, my parents were foster carers to other children so I have some knowledge of what life was like for children in care from that time.

I really do look forward to getting out and about to meet with as many young people as possible – I want you to help me make Kent the best place of children and young people to grow up, learn, develop and achieve.

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Tony Doran

VSK Headteacher

What is your job role and what does this mean?

I head the Virtual School Kent which is responsible for promoting and improving educational standards for Children in Care and Young Care Leavers of Kent. I am responsible for the coordination of services provided by VSK such as:

Supporting key colleagues (Social workers, Foster carers, Designated Teachers, School Leaders, School Governors, IROs and your Corporate Parents) in understanding their roles and responsibilities in promoting your education and ensuring that they have the highest aspirations for you.

Providing information advice and guidance for you and for the key professionals who may work with you.

Ensuring effective systems are in place to offer extra support.

Ensuring you are at the centre of what we do and that we listen. We do this through our Participation & Engagement Team who run the activity days, children in care councils (Super Council, OCYPC and YAC) and Kent Cares Town website to name but a few specific activities.

How did you end up working in this job role?

I had been working in Educational Leadership for many years specialising in improving school culture and inclusion. This led to some consultancy opportunities which led to me being selected as an educational behaviour expert in the National Behavioural Review within the Prime Ministers Delivery Unit (PMDU) and subsequently the National Strategies. This experience of Central and Local Government work coupled with my passion for inclusion and working with disadvantaged groups of young people inspired me to search for and eventually secure the post of Virtual School Headteacher.

What is the best thing about your job?

That’s easy, it’s seeing the great outcomes achieved by the amazing young people that I serve. I especially look forward to days like the VSK Talent Showcase and the VSK Achievement Ceremonies in September and October.

Tell us one fact about you that young people might like to know?!

I was a Welsh International Athlete. Well athlete is pushing it…. I used to throw the Discus and Hammer for Wales.

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Nicola Anthony

Interim Head of Fostering and Registered Manager

What is your job role and what does this mean?

I am the Interim Head of Kent Fostering and Registered Manager. I directly line manage the centralised part of Kent Fostering which includes recruitment and assessment of foster carers. I am responsible for making the decision whether to approve new foster carers, including Connected Persons who have been assessed and presented to the Fostering Panel. I oversee the running of all Fostering Panels along with having overall management responsibility for the Specialist Fostering Team who cover Disability Fostering and the Sense of Belonging, along with the Fostering Review Team, Training and Development for foster carers and Initial Enquiries.

I work closely with the seven area Fostering Support Teams to promote joint working and support to foster carers, children and young people. The Fostering Support Teams supervise foster carers, match all referrals for children placements with appropriately skilled carers, promote training for carers and facilitate support groups.

How did you end up working in this job role?

I have worked with Kent Fostering Service for 19 years, initially as a Fostering Social Worker and then as Team Manager for Assessment and Support Teams. In the last couple of years I have been working alongside the Head of Fostering Caroline Smith, in the role of Practice Development Officer with a lead on Fostering. Caroline is currently covering the Assistant Director post for Corporate Parenting and I am covering for Caroline.

What is the best thing about your job?

I am passionate about this role as it oversees the fostering service to ensure that Kent Fostering recruit and supervise the very best foster carers to promote a safe and secure environment for children and young people in Kent.

Tell us one fact about you that young people might like to know?!

I love playing netball and have played for many teams since I was a teenager including Canterbury under 21s. I am a Goal Shooter and have played in the freezing rain and on the hottest of days.

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Caroline Smith

Interim Assistant Director for Corporate Parenting

What is your job role and what does this mean?

Hello, I am Caroline Smith, the Interim Assistant Director for Corporate Parenting. I am responsible for the services that support our Children in Care and Care Leavers including Kent Fostering Service, Adoption, VSK and 18plus Care Leavers. As a Corporate Parent I want the absolute best for our children and young people, ensuring they get the right support to achieve their full potential. I am very proud of the children and young people we work with and always value any feedback on our services about what we can do to support you.

How did you end up working in this job role?

I have worked for Kent County Council for 26 years, completing my training as a Social Worker and working with children and adults with disabilities, before working in the Fostering Service for 13 years. I am currently covering the Assistant Director role as wanted to be able to make a difference in the lives of as many children and young people as possible.

What is the best thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is seeing the achievements of children and young people within my services. I love the variety my job gives and the ability to create change with new ideas that will improve the lives of those I am a corporate parent too.

Tell us one fact about you that young people might like to know?!

If I won the lottery, I would buy a café on the beach, spending the day baking cakes and looking out at the sea.

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Paul Startup

Head of the Care Leavers 18 Plus Service

What is your job role and what does this mean?

I am Head of the Care Leavers 18 Plus Service. It means that I oversee 10 teams of workers who support around 1500 Care Leavers between the ages of 18 and 25.

How did you end up working in this job role?

I made a positive decision to apply for the post as I really wanted to do the job.

What is the best thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is working with the staff and the young people, being around people and trying to help them as best as I can.

Tell us one fact about you that young people might like to know?!

I run marathons and have a best time of 3 hours and 25 minutes which I am very proud of.

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