Our council

About this strategy

No matter who you are, we have the best of intentions for children and young people who experience care.

Our aim is for all such children to get the best care within a setting that provides stability. We enable them to maintain their wellbeing and make a successful transition to adulthood and independence. We want them to achieve their aspirations.

Recent events have proved to be a challenge for all of us at every turn. For children experiencing care and those leaving care, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been bigger and long lasting.

We want to restore the level of progress we all want for children in care and those leaving care.

This includes:

  • health and education outcomes
  • permanence of placements
  • keeping them safe from all forms of harm and to be able to voice their experiences and concerns on their terms
  • to meet their needs and to become active citizens in sustainable local communities

To do this we've made the Barnsley Children in Care Strategy. This outlines our vision on how we'll deliver an outstanding level of practice and provision.

We share a strong duty in making sure this vulnerable group of children and young people aren't left behind. We'll make sure the objectives and priorities of our new strategy help promote their resilience. We're considering the rising costs of living and improving their life chances as part of building social capital. We're re-shaping our communities and 'building back better'.

We commend the new Children in Care and Care Leavers Strategy to you. It's an integral part of our ambition to commission and provide outstanding services for children and young people in care, and those leaving care in Barnsley.

Councillor Trevor Cave: Cabinet Spokesperson (Children’s Services) Barnsley Council

Carly Speechley: Executive Director (Children’s Services)

Our vision

As we approach 2030, our overall vision for Barnsley is for it to become a 'place of possibilities'.

This means a place in which all people can live in good health, feel protected and to go on and achieve their potential. This is done through quality education institutions, transport and connectivity, access to skills and sustainable employment.

How this strategy fits into our vision

Our Children in Care and Care Leavers Strategy forms part of the Barnsley 2030 narrative, through the following:

  • Healthy Barnsley – in which:
    • everyone is able to enjoy their lives in good physical and mental health
    • where fewer people experience poverty
    • people can access the right support at the right time and place

  • Learning Barnsley – where all children and young people can aim high and achieve their full potential, with more people being able to access higher education and higher-level skills than ever before

Principles of corporate parenting

At the heart of our service is delivery to our children who are cared for by Barnsley, and to our care leavers who've been looked after previously. Our commitment is to the seven principles of corporate parenting as outlined in the statutory guidance published in February 2018:

  • To act in the best interests, and promote the physical and mental health and wellbeing, of those children and young people.
  • To encourage those children and young people to express their views, wishes and feelings.
  • To take into account the views, wishes and feelings of those children and young people.
  • To help those children and young people gain access to, and make the best use of, services provided by the local authority and its relevant partners.
  • To promote high aspirations, and seek to secure the best outcomes, for those children and young people.
  • For those children and young people to be safe, and for stability in their home lives, relationships and education or work.
  • To prepare those children and young people for adulthood and independent living

Expectations for our children in care

For all our children in care and leaving care, we have set out what you can expect from us. We'll make sure you get a good education, help you to enjoy life and prepare you for the future.

The six expectations below are our agreed joint ‘expectations’.

We'll look after you in a safe and caring home


  • help you to live in a safe place, where you’ll be cared for
  • only move you if we have to
  • help you to keep things that are important to you
  • listen to you when you have any concerns
  • find you a loving home as quickly as possible, that can and will last until you're ready to leave care

We'll promote, support and respect your identity


  • respect your right to privacy
  • only share information with people that need to know as and when they need it
  • help you as you grow up and provide you with a life story book
  • tell you when you’re doing well
  • give you extra help if you need it
  • show you how proud we are of you
  • recognise your rights in relation to disability, sexuality and race
  • support your right to both follow your culture and religion if that's your wish
  • recognise that you need to be seen as individuals worth of respect
  • help you to discover your sense of who you are
  • help you to stay in touch with your family if this is what you want
  • support and encourage you to get involved in your community through volunteering work and helping others if you want to

We'll make sure you get a good education


  • keep you safe in school, and make sure that you feel safe
  • make sure you know where to go in school to get support
  • make sure you don't have to change school wherever possible, especially in years 10 and 11
  • make sure you're given extra support within school when you need it
  • support you to join in with activities in school and after school
  • be aware that if you don't have good mental health this could affect your education
  • make sure that if you’re a school-age child you have access to a computer or device and the internet where you live
  • support you whilst you're in further education and training beyond 16, including going to college and university, and help you plan for the future
  • celebrate and promote your achievements

We'll support you to be healthy


  • make sure that you're registered with a GP and dentist
  • make sure that all hospital, GP and dental appointments are kept and that you're supported to attend them
  • make sure you don't miss out on things like football, dancing, swimming and going on holiday
  • help you to eat healthily, play outside, and enjoy exercise
  • help you to feel happy and good about yourself
  • recognise that relationships are critically important to you
  • help you when you're doing well or if you're struggling

We know that mental health and wellbeing are one of your biggest worries and the most important and urgent things that we have to improve.

We'll prepare you for the future


  • make sure you have a name personal advisor
  • make sure you've got a bank account, birth certificate, passport and National Insurance number soon after your 16th birthday
  • help you to fill out forms with other agencies, such as housing
  • prepare you with living skills such as cooking, washing, ironing, cleaning and money management
  • help you to develop your confidence and social skills
  • help you with interviews
  • make sure you don't pay Council Tax if you live in Barnsley
  • let you know ways to contact your worker, and if you leave a message for them that someone will get back to you as soon as possible

We'll involve you in making it happen


  • listen to you and your views
  • act on what you say and tell you what we've done and when we've done it
  • ensure that you're aware of your legal rights and entitlements
  • always speak to you in words you understand
  • always be honest
  • always believe in you and never give up
  • make sure you have the right to say how you feel about your life
  • always be listened to when we make decision about your life

Key indicators

Key indicators that tell us what we're doing is what children and care leavers expect us to do, and what we need to do better.

Care leaver indicators

Care leavers - percentage in education, training and/or employment 62.5% 65.6% 71.2% 68.2% 50.1% 52.0%
Care leavers - percentage in suitable accommodation 95.4% 95.3% 90.9% 93.9% 91.0% 88.0%
Timeliness of visits to care leavers (percentage of visits within eight weeks) 78.4% 91.6% 98.7% 99.5% N/A N/A
Indicator 18/19 outturn 19/20 outturn 20/21 outturn 21/22 outturn 20/21 stat. neighbours 20/21 national

Looked after children (LAC) indicators

Indicator 18/19 outturn 19/20 outturn 20/21 outturn 21/22 outturn 20/21 stat. neighbours 20/21 national
LAC health assessment timeliness 95.7% 99.0% 100.0% 92.7% 92.7% 91.0%
LAC dental assessment timeliness 99.5% 99.0% 33.0% 83.9% 33.9% 40.0%
LAC strengths and difficulties questionnaire 76.7% 73.9% 96.9% 71.6% 82.2% 80.0%
LAC reviews within timescales 98.5% 99.0% 99.4% 98.3% N/A N/A
LAC visits timeliness 98.8% 98.9% 99.8% 97.4% N/A N/A
Personal education plans (PEPs) 100.0% 99.5% 99.5% 98.2% N/A N/A
Termly personal education plans (TPEPs) 98.0% 95.7% 99.0% 98.2% N/A N/A

Placement indicators

LAC placement stability: stable placement 2.5+ years 64.1% 59.4% 67.3% 69.7% 68.3% 70.0%
LAC placement stability: 3+ placement moves 11.0% 7.0% 4.5% 10.6% 8.3% 9.0%
Indicator 18/19 outturn 19/20 outturn 20/21 outturn 21/22 outturn 20/21 stat. neighbours 20/21 national

Education indicators

LAC education: attendance (primary and secondary) 95.5% 95.8% N/A 93.5% 96.1% 95.7%
Indicator 18/19 outturn 19/20 outturn 20/21 outturn 21/22 outturn 20/21 stat. neighbours 20/21 national

Going forwards

Details of what we need to do more of and be better.

Our plans

We want to increase our numbers of foster carers so we can care for Barnsley children with Barnsley foster carers. We have a robust marketing and communications strategy for 2022/23 to help us to this.

We have a target to recruit 23 new carers in 2022/23. We're making excellent progress with two newly approved and 14 planned to fostering panel in the first half year already. As part of the recruitment strategy, we're targeting carers for all fostering schemes.

We're seeing a slight improvement in children experiencing stability in long term care. We need to see an improvement on the number of placement moves for children in care. With extra carers we're hopeful this will improve as we'll have more choice and capacity.

An emotional health and wellbeing support worker is working with carers and young people which should positively impact on stability for children in care. We want to expand on the resource by considering more therapeutically trained practitioners to support consultations. They'll help enable reflective team discussions with social workers, residential staff and carers.

We have a new stability pathway and a new weekly vulnerable placement panel. Although this is still in its infancy, we believe this new development is contributing to this improvement.  

There are 19 young people in external residential provision. We want to reduce the number of children and young people placed in external residential homes. We want children in our care and local to Barnsley when it is appropriate to do so.

Some of the above will be achieved by opening a new residential home. This has had some significant delay in identifying a suitable property. It's hoped this will be achieved in 2022/23.

We want to reduce our use of IFA carers by eight in 2022/23. We've seen a significant reduction from September to March but we want to see this trend continue with a further reduction of eight as we increase our in-house capacity.

We intend to create a mentoring programme that enhances our annual takeover day. Mentors have been recruited and will be matched up with young people completing the annual aspiration survey. The idea is to give young people a chance to share personally their career ambition and aspiration with suitably experienced mentors. 

We need to build on our ongoing success with regard to the percentage of care leavers 19-21 in education, training or employment (ETE). We have over the last few years met our annual target of 65% and this year our reported out turn for 21/22 was 68.2%. Our performance compares favourably with statistical neighbours and national averages. In 22/23 we've raised our performance target to 68%.

Progress the new care leavers hub at Commerce House, supporting engagement for care leavers with the service. This central resource will provide a friendly venue/drop-in. It can also be utilised for Care4Us Council meetings, other work streams and a variety of young people’s consultations.

Care4Us Council

The Care4Us Council is made up of young people aged 8 to 25 who are either looked after or have left the care system and are part of the leaving care service.

Plans for the Care4Us Council

To increase membership and representation of children in care and care leavers on the Care4Us Council the new youth voice and participation coordinator, support worker and existing cohort are planning on developing an ongoing recruitment and training programme.

The Care4UsCouncil will create a dynamic workplan which captures the foreseen annual workstreams. Examples include Takeover Day and the celebration event for children in care. It allows for ongoing and joint work with other youth voice forums.

The Care4Us Council will promote the expectations for Barnsley’s children and young people in care, it's purpose and its intentions. They'll support a rolling review of the outcomes. This includes the use of a smart survey, Facebook polls, user satisfaction and review meetings.

The Care4Us Council will promote our local offer for care leavers, it's purpose and its intentions. They'll support a rolling review of the outcomes for young people via the use of a smart survey, Facebook polls, user satisfaction and review meetings.

Drop-ins are to be planned at all relevant secondary schools/academies to further reach young people in care.

There's a need to create a succession plan for future Care4Us council members. We want to expand the service to incorporate and represent the views and voice of younger service users.

We want to build relationships with and support carers in enabling children and young people to participate by attending foster carer forums. Also, participation and attendance at foster carers association, support groups events and activities to build relationships and promote youth voice and participation activity.

We want to build on existing links with Barnsley Youth Council and promote joint work wherever possible. This will make sure that children in care and care leavers voices are truly represented in decision making processes across the children's partnership.

Monitoring and reviewing the strategy

This is a three-year strategy and will be reviewed and refreshed annually to ensure it remains effective by evidencing progress against ‘what we need to do more of and better’.

The outcomes relating to the strategy will also be regularly reported to senior leaders, elected members and by the corporate parenting panel. Relevant service areas have performance indicators which measure how well we're achieving our strategic aims for the children looked after and those leaving care. These performance indicators are monitored at a variety of levels within the service.

Children and young people in care and our care leavers will also be consulted on in relation to any reviews and will have ongoing monitoring of how we're achieving ‘what we need to do more of and be better’. 

An action plan from this strategy will be developed and will be tracked and reviewed in the development of a new corporate parenting subgroup, chaired by the head of service for children in care.