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.

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!

Adventure Under Sail

Ocean Youth Trust South is a charity which gives young people aged between 12 and 25 the opportunity to go to sea.  This year, Virtual School Kent was lucky enough to be able to offer 11 Children in Care an amazing adventure on the ocean!

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For 4 days between 29th May and 2nd June, young people got the chance to sail, keep watch, help to navigate and cook aboard the 30-metre vessel Prolific.  The group joined the boat in Southampton on Wednesday and sailed to Cowes on the first night. The next day, they sailed to Studland Bay and anchored with time to enjoy fishing over the side. Friday was another sail to Weymouth for the beach and ice cream, and Saturday was a long passage back to the Solent where they moored up for the night outside Yarmouth. They even spotted dolphins along the way! The voyage finished in Southampton on Sunday after 151 nautical miles.

The Voyage was a success and eight of the eleven participants also earned Royal Yachting Association Start Yachting certificates - this award is a recognised qualification which young people can keep in their Record of Achievement. It shows that they mastered some basic sailing skills but also demonstrates they were able to listen and concentrate, persevere when things got tough, cope with living in an entirely unfamiliar situation, take responsibility when asked, and much much more.

                                 They should all be proud of themselves for doing so well.

Corporate Parenting Panel Takeover Day!

Kent County Council’s Takeover Day on Wednesday, May 29 saw children in care, care leavers, adopted young people and the sons and daughters of foster carers take charge of the Corporate Parenting Panel and have their voices heard.

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Around 25 young people aged between 10 and 25 took part, shadowing KCC directors, officers and senior councillors to learn how the council is run and how decisions are made at County Hall in Maidstone.

Tabatha, 11, said: “It was a really great day with young people having the chance to lead the meeting with their own agenda.

“We had the chance to discuss important and current issues with our corporate parents such as social media, our dreams for the future and other topics that are important to us.”

Brad, 17, shadowed Ann Allen, chairman of the Corporate Parenting Panel. He said: “It was a phenomenal experience to be able to take over the Corporate Parenting Meeting and to co-chair the meeting with Ann.

“I would love to see this happen again and would highly recommend it as it was an amazing event to be part of.”

The Corporate Parenting Panel is a group of Kent County Council senior staff, elected members and workers from organisations across Kent who are responsible for supporting children in care to grow, thrive and lead happy, fulfilled lives.  The panel’s role is to act as an advocate for children in care and care leavers, make services better and to give young people a voice in decision making.  The young people well and truly took over, choosing topics to talk about and livening up the Council Chambers with balloons, debate and even a vote about the pros and cons of social media. 

Matt Dunkley, Corporate Director Children, Young People and Education said: “It was a memorable, moving, empowering and enlightening occasion. I was left feeling so proud of our young people for their confidence, resilience and good humour, and deeply proud to be a corporate parent.“

If you would like to get involved in activities like this or join one of our Children in Care Councils, then why not email us at VSK_Participation@kent.gov.uk.

Mind of My Own - how it can help you!

Mind of My Own is an award-winning app which allows children in care and care leavers to express their thoughts and feelings easily with the professionals they work with. Children as young as eight can sign up to a young person’s account and access their account whenever and wherever they want.  You can download the app to your phone or tablet or use the website, www.mindofmyown.org.uk

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The sign-up process is simple. All you have to do is give your name, email address and date of birth. If you get stuck, you should ask your Social Worker, Independent Reviewing Officer, Foster Carer or anyone you trust to help you sign up.

The app is very straight forward. There are so many different options to choose from!  You can choose from eight scenarios like ‘Prepare for a Meeting’, ‘Sort a Problem’ or even ‘Share Good News’. Within each scenario, you can answer different questions about what’s going well in your life, what might be more challenging and what you would like to change.  You can add as much information as you like.

Once the questions are completed, you can choose who you would like to send your statement to, whether this is your Social Worker, Independent Reviewing Officer, Virtual School Kent Worker or Personal Adviser.  Just remember to press send!

Mind of My Own is an amazing app and is an easy way for young people and care leavers to express how they are feeling at the time they want and not wait until they see their worker.  It’s particularly good if you sometimes find it difficult saying what you really feel face to face with your workers or need to get something off your chest then and there.  Your worker will receive your statement the next day they are in work and will let you know they have seen it.  

The Mind of My Own app is easily downloaded using the Apple App Store or the Google Play store on iPhone and Android. Any young person can also access the app through the internet by going to www.mindofmyown.org.uk.

So why not give Mind of My Own a go today?! Download the app and send a statement; make sure you have your voice heard!

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 County Council 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

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

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+ 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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