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An exciting new opportunity for you to have your voice heard and make a difference! The Young Inspectors is a brand new volunteering initiative designed specifically for Care Leavers aged 18 - 25.Read More
The Young Inspector’s scheme is a project that allows you to have the opportunity to review the services that directly impact your life. The scheme aims to provide this opportunity for Care Leavers aged 18 – 25. With the help of apprentices, the Young Inspectors will produce projects that impact and reflect the experience of other Care Leavers within Kent. The scheme aims to target the accommodation in which care leavers live between the ages of 18 – 21 as the pilot phase of the project is introduced.
As well as producing projects of interest, the Young Inspectors will be testing how well different areas of the service works, celebrating in the success of positive practice and identifying areas of improvement. This means that you as volunteers will be at the centre of changing and developing policies that directly impact yours and others lives, allowing your voice to be heard. This also means that any concerns you may have can be directly acted upon by the appropriate people, making a real difference to the service. The projects overall aims are to reduce the amount of evictions, reduce the amount of warnings and increase the amount of Young people over the age of 21 living independently, and needs your help to make these goals a reality.
There are four methods of inspection that Young Inspectors will do, they are:
Mystery – Inspecting a service in secret.
Observation – People are told that you are coming, often watching how people work within their service.
Questionnaire – Usually sent out with little to none face to face contact.
Focus Groups – Small group meetings, asking direct questions.
All forms of inspection also follow the same inspection process which has 5 aspects:
Prepare – Meet with Project Lead, plan inspection, meet with Young Inspectors.
Do – Complete the Inspection.
Reflect and Report – Feedback meetings.
Action plan – Short term, mid-term, long term goals are set.
Review – Record changes and outcomes, re-inspection in 6 months.
This is the perfect opportunity to have your voice heard and make a real difference for Children and Young people throughout the county and encourage more people to speak up and make their voices heard. You can also receive a volunteer accreditation, which is a huge CV boost! The scheme offers continued support throughout with regular meetings taking place every 6-8 weeks to discuss future projects as well as progress on current projects. Once you have completed a successful period of volunteering you will also receive a gift voucher!
For further information about applying to become a volunteer, click here.
Click here to view an application form.
Going to College or University can be a very difficult time in anyone’s life. It can be unsettling and can require a complete change in routine, but it doesn’t have to be like that. Whether you’re deciding to go to college or choosing what university is best for you, don’t leave yourself in the dark!Read More
All Colleges and Universities offer the opportunity to go and view the campus and facilities by organising open days. These are a great way to familiarise yourself with your new potential surroundings. Often current students will offer tours where you can be shown all the areas of the college or university that you will use the most so that when you start it isn’t unfamiliar. Open days are a great way to get more information that will help you make the all-important decision. You will have the opportunity to ask students and tutors about your chosen courses and what life at the college/university is really like.
College and university Open Days are taking place throughout November and December. You can find College Open Day dates here. Click to find out more information about visiting The University of Kent, The University for the Creative Arts or Canterbury Christ Church University here. Don’t worry if you miss an Open Day. You can often arrange to visit informally – just give the college or university a ring to find out more.
Don’t forget there are also advisers in Virtual School Kent and the Care Leavers 18+ Service who can help you too. Talk to your Social Worker or PA who can put you in touch with the right person.
Calling all our Children in Care aged 11-19 years old! Registers are now open for you to sign up and become a candidate for the KYCC Elections.Read More
KYCC stands for ‘Kent Youth County Council’. The KYCC voice the views and opinions of young people in Kent. KYCC work on multiple campaigns every year; last November the following campaigns were voted in by young people across Kent:
• Curriculum for life • Mental Health • Anti-Bullying • Developing emotional Resilience.
Not only do KYCC members work on the campaigns chosen by Kent’s young people each year they also work in project groups that cover topics such as: Transport, environmental issues, promoting equality, tackling racial and religious discrimination, positive stories etc.
You can stand for election by becoming part of the following:
You could be elected as a ‘Member’ or a ‘Deputy Member’. You will have the opportunity to get involved in lots of opportunities including campaigning and make important decisions about changes happening. KYCC Members meet regularly with KCC Members and can get involved in making a difference to the lives of young people in Kent. KYCC Members also elect 7 young people to represent Kent nationally at UK Youth Parliament, which includes the incredible opportunity to debate in the House of Commons!
We also elect a Member to ‘Community Seats’, to make sure KYCC represents all communities within Kent. If you are a young person and feel you could represent a minority community, complete the attached registration form.
You don’t need any experience to get involved, just a desire to get involved, make a stand and make a difference.
Young people who would like to stand as either a District or Community seat can access the opportunity here.
If you’re interested in registering your school as a polling station, or if you’re interested in registering to stand for election, you can sign up now www.kent.gov.uk/kyccelections
On Thursday 5th September, Matt Dunkley, the Corporate Director for Children Young People and Education attended one of the Young Adult Council’s monthly meeting. YAC members had the opportunity to ask Matt a series of questions about the kind of stuff that affect Young People in Kent. Here are the ten questions the YAC member came up with and Matt’s responses…Read More
Q1 How are you going to help support Young People with disabilities in education?
One thing we need to do is to ensure Young People with disabilities have the Education and Disabilities Teams that support them working alongside each other, and if necessary, in conjunction with Social Workers. There needs to be more opportunities and more support for Young People to be in their local mainstream school, rather than Young People having to commute far distances to find a school that meets the Young Person’s needs. Young People should be able to connect to their local communities.
Q2 What about separate induction days for Young People in Colleges who have disabilities?
I know that they are mixed up together at present. If you would like a more bespoke induction I will make sure when I meet all the colleges’ principals in Kent I will give them your suggestions.
Q3 What is your main priority as Corporate Director for all Children in Kent?
That all Children & Young People should have a great childhood so they feel happy, secure and loved. I want people to look at the whole child, not only things like exam results but to help them to achieve their full potential - socially as well as academically so they can build connections and feel supported in life.
Q4 Is there any advice you would give us as a Corporate Parent?
Yes, the same advice as I would give my own children - focus on your own happiness, don’t sweat about the small stuff, bad times will pass. Treat people the way you want to be treated yourself, and that you can determine your own destiny.
Q4 What role does Kent County Council have in challenging bullying in our schools?
If we hear about an individual child, we can raise this with the school. If we see multiple issues, we can alert the education safeguarding team to look into the situation. Many secondary schools are academies which we do have strong relationships with, but we don’t have as much power to address all issues. Some schools do a fantastic job and some still have some work to do, so my honest answer is it isn’t always easy.
Q5 How do you support Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Young People with housing?
We have workers and funding for this specific support. For unaccompanied care leavers, it is not easy for us to find housing as we are not a housing authority. But there is the Rent Guarantor Scheme which has been recently introduced. Some young people are entitled to housing grants so can rent through their local councils.
Q6 Why did you want to do this job?
I was Director in East Sussex for 8 years, then worked with schools in Australia for 4 years. I missed working with Children in Care in Australia and when this job came up and I jumped at the opportunity. I think I have always had a connection with Children in Care and young people like yourselves. My parents were foster carers and I am very passionate about making things better for Children in Care.
Q7 What do you do on a day to day basis?
Well, my youngest son – who is 15 – said when he was younger ‘my dad’s job is going to meetings!’ He’s not wrong as I do go to a lot of meetings. I normally meet with politicians and my staff. Today, I went to visit an academy in Canterbury and met with Headteachers. Then, I went back to Maidstone and had another meeting with politicians about the budget and looked at some inspection reports . Then I had some supervisor meetings with members of staff before coming to this YAC meeting.
Q8 Are there any big changes coming up that could affect Young People in this room?
There are a few changes that are happening locally, change of Kent County Council’s Leader and nationally Brexit being two big things. Kent is doing an enormous amount of planning around Brexit. Young people have grown up in a period of austerity i.e. cuts etc. We have 45% less money then in 2010. But, for the first time in 10 years we have been promised more money by the government, although not enough to cover what we lost. This could mean there could be more support for young people and Care Leavers.
Q10 If you think about what the state does, not much is more dramatic than being the Corporate Parent for a child. What do you think about this?
I agree. If we are going to place children in the state’s care, we need to make sure it is the best it can possibly be. We can be the pushy, most demanding parents as we all have the advantages - we know the schools, police NHS etc. Care should be a positive experience and once you are in care, we should ensure it is just that.
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
“I want you to help me make Kent the best place for children and young people to grow up, learn, develop and achieve.”
“I think it is really important that children in care have people to speak for them, to support them and to promote their interests.”
“We need to ask ourselves ‘what is a good parent?’ and do the same as corporate parents as we would for our own children.”
“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.”
“The best thing about my job is seeing the great outcomes achieved by the amazing young people that I serve.”
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was a Welsh International Athlete. Well athlete is pushing it…. I used to throw the Discus and Hammer for Wales.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If I won the lottery, I would buy a café on the beach, spending the day baking cakes and looking out at the sea.
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.
I made a positive decision to apply for the post as I really wanted to do the 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.
I run marathons and have a best time of 3 hours and 25 minutes which I am very proud of.