An Essex-led multi local authority programme developed to improve stability for vulnerable young people in care has been a success according to an independent evaluation interim report. The report was produced by Tavistock and published by the Department for Education.
The Inside Out project began as a pilot in Essex in July 2018, expanded to Hertfordshire in May 2019 and was rolled out to Norfolk in July 2019. The programme, which was co-designed with children in care, involves providing intensive, targeted support for young people aged 14 ½ – 18 who have experienced multiple foster care or residential care placement breakdowns.
Under the scheme the young people work with a coach from The Children’s Society. The coach provides intensive support of up to 25 hours a week for a duration of up to 18 months. Paige, a young person using the scheme, said: “Coach always keeps her promises and helps me. I feel good while talking to her and I know I can trust her.”
The evaluation report found that Inside Out has achieved positive results for young people over the first 18 months. Data showed that the scheme had increased stability for participants with fewer care placement breakdowns and reduced episodes of young people going missing. Some participants were also able to move back to their birth family with the support provided by the coach.
The scheme reduced behaviours that could lead to child sexual exploitation or criminality and young people reported feeling happier, calmer and less anxious. Social workers also reported increased wellbeing as a result of having the input of another professional to support vulnerable young people.
A cost-benefit analysis estimated that for every £1 invested in the programme, approximately £2.50 of benefits would accrue to the local authority or wider public sector.
Councillor Louise McKinlay, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families said: “These are fantastic results so far and my thanks go to everyone involved in setting up the project. We are very much looking forward to building on these positive early findings and continuing to improve the programme.
“Even in the circumstances in which local authorities currently find themselves, we remain absolutely committed to protecting and supporting all young people in Essex and helping them to reach their full potential.”