Crawley councillors back base for young care-leavers
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During a meeting of the full council, there was unanimous support for a motion tabled by Jennifer Millar-Smith (Con, Maidenbower) which called for a number of services to be opened to the youngsters.
The motion was identical to one approved by Mid Sussex District Council in September.
Conservative leader Duncan Crow said: “We know that children in care have disadvantages throughout their lives and we want to do everything possible we can do to help.”
The motion called on the council to explore a number of initiatives with the West Sussex Care Leavers Service.
These would include setting up a ‘shop-front’ community base providing a communal space to meet, laundry facilities, life skills lessons, WiFi and a place to meet advisers.
It would also provide space for the county council’s Youth Emotional Support Service to meet, bringing together children from across the county.
And it suggested that apprenticeships or work-based opportunities be offered to any care leaver who wanted to explore that option rather than education.
Corporate parenting – looking after children who go into care – is the statutory duty of the county council. But the borough council has by no means been lax when it comes to care leavers.
Along with the six other district and borough councils, it has provided accommodation for a total of 24 young people who are not quite ready to live independently, allowing them to take part in a six to nine-month scheme teaching them life skills.
And care leavers have free access to the K2 leisure centre to support their health and wellbeing.
While the motion received unanimous support from councillors, leader Michael Jones felt some of the things being asked for were already being met elsewhere.
He added: “There is nothing, of course, stopping West Sussex County Council putting the resources forward for these things if they believe current provision is not adequate – we’re not stopping them.”
Calling on the county council to ‘practice what you preach’, he added: “You don’t need a long memory to remember that they actively got rid of the entire youth advice Connections service which had a shop front in Queens Square and other places, which benefited all young people including care leavers.”
Mr Jones agreed to ask CEO Ian Duke to look into what could be done.