For free online education resources, suitable for Reception to Year 10 pupils, please visit https://www.thenational.academy/online-classroom.
For free online education resources, suitable for Reception to Year 10 pupils, please visit https://www.thenational.academy/online-classroom.
For free online education resources, suitable for Reception to Year 10 pupils, please visit https://www.thenational.academy/online-classroom.

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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.

*Coronavirus Update*

During the Coronavirus outbreak, the VSK Participation Team is here to help Children in Care, Care Leavers and Young People who were Previously Looked After stay positive! Click on the links below to find some Top Tips, Boredom Busters and E-Life Hacks, as well as short films made by the Team to help you through this difficult time. You can email us at VSK_Participation@kent.gov.uk or use the website to stay in touch—we love hearing from you!

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!

Have a look at VSK’s Home Learning Resource Booklet for Primary School Children to find additional resources and advice for supporting primary aged children during the Coronavirus outbreak. Click here

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.

Click on the link to access VSK’s Home Learning Resource Booklet for Secondary aged Young People full of useful information and resources to explore during this unsettled time. Click here

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.

If you are over 16, take a look at VSK’s Post 16 Home Learning Resource Booklet packed full of valuable resources and tips to try. Click here We also have a Home Learning Booklet for asylum seeking Young People. Click 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!

Aspens Fest 2020

Aspens Fest 2020, save the date!

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Aspens Fest 2020, will take place Saturday 18th - Sunday 19th July.Make sure you save the date! The weekend will be full of virtual activities and workshops, all themed around ‘Transitions’.

Aspens fest is a hub of mental health, wellbeing, music, sport, sensory and transition workshops tailored to parents, carers, siblings, children and young people with ASC, mental health difficulties and/or SEN.

To register for the festival, head to: aspensfest2020.aspens.org.uk

An update about NCS 2020

The following is an update about NCS 2020.

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National Citizen Service (NCS)*   *

*The normal summer programme is unfortunately not able to go ahead and so in its place we are offering a completely free NCS experience available to all young people. *

Everyone who was previously signed up to a programme should have been contacted to have the new offer explained to them and will have been given an option of remaining involved in this summer’s experience, as well as deferring their place to next summer, if they are still age eligible.

*The summer 2020 experience includes a huge range of digital workshops, events and opportunities that can be accessed at  https://wearencs.com/.  Please do feel free to share these details with others. In addition, as we move further out of lockdown and things become safer we hope to arrange some volunteering and social action days for young people to join in with. *

Survey Update!

A huge thank you to everyone that took the time to submit a feedback survey during this lockdown period!

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Everyone at VSK would like to thank all of you who have completed our surveys that we have posted on the website. Understanding your views about lockdown has given us a valuable insight as to how we can improve our services to benefit you in the future! During these uncertain times it has been really helpful to get some direct feedback from you, helping us to make things a little bit easier during lockdown. As a thank you we have selected at random, two lucky winners of £50 vouchers! These will be sent out to you and can be spent at a variety of different shops!

We will be adding new surveys periodically to the website for you to take part in so keep your eyes open for those!

Thank you again, and we hope to see as many of you as possible very soon!

The Participation Team.

The Summer Reading Challenge is Back!

Silly Squad, the Summer Reading Challenge 2020 started on Friday 5th June and runs throughout the summer holidays, finishing at the end of September. It’s for children aged 4 – 11 and is completely free.

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Even though libraries are closed at the moment and lots of you are learning at home, you can still take part! For the first time ever in Kent, the Summer Reading Challenge is going to be a digital only activity so you can access it at home using your laptop, tablet or phone.

This year’s theme is “Silly Squad” – focussing on funny books, happiness and things that make us laugh. If you take part in the Challenge, you can join the Silly Squad, an adventurous team of animals who love to have a laugh and get stuck into many different kinds of funny books.

In the past, you might have visited your local library to register and collect a wallet, stickers and other rewards as you progressed through the challenge, reading a total of six books. This year’s Challenge is different – it’s a digital Challenge! It’s free to access and there are games, quizzes and downloadable activities to try. You can choose your own reading goals, create book reviews, play games and collect virtual rewards. If you want to take part, ask your Foster Carer to register you online at www.sillysquad.org.uk via the safe, sign-up process.

And don’t forget, although libraries are closed, eBooks and eAudio books are free to borrow from www.kent.gov.uk/libraries.  You can have a look at what’s available to read here https://kent.overdrive.com/ and even download a free app so you can read as much as you want! Downloaded EBooks and eAudio books are automatically returned so you don’t need to keep an eye on the due date! If you need help with the online catalogue, contact our Ask A Kent Librarian Team https://www.kent.gov.uk/leisure-and-community/libraries/free-computers-and-wifi/ask-a-kent-librarian

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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.”

Nimesh Patel

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.”

Mark Vening

Head of Fostering – West

Sue Chandler

Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services

Richard Long

Cabinet Member for Education and Skills

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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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Nimesh Patel

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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