“The quality of preparation for leaving care, and of the aftercare subsequently provided, may profoundly affect the rest of a young person’s life” [Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000]
Providing the young people we look after with consistent, meaningful, and supportive care is extremely important. Similarly, our experience has taught us that young people leaving our care and making their own way in the world need the same, if not more, support and and reassurance.
Our approach fits naturally with the guidance given in the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000, and supports the view that young people should be looked after until they are prepared and ready to leave care, in stable placements, with continuity of carers and the maintenance, wherever possible, of positive links. They should be prepared gradually to be ready to leave care, with attention given to guiding them in learning practical self-care needs such in the areas of health, budgeting, domestic skills, and personal / relationship dimensions. Young people leaving care should be enabled to fulfil their potential in education, training and employment, and have access to a range of accommodation and the support and skills to maintain themselves in their accommodation.
When a child living at Springfields Therapeutic Children’s Home achieves an appropriate level of emotional integration, self-control, and acceptance of personal responsibility, they are offered a carefully structured plan that allows them to practice basic life skills and strategies for gradually becoming less dependent on the adults around them. However, great care is taken to ensure they continue to feel looked after and supported throughout this stage of their development. They are still children, and not ‘little adults’ and have a right to continue enjoying being treated as a child.
At Westfields and Hillfields, we have incorporated the therapeutic community approach with the principles of pathway planning. In this way, we have achieved a balanced care practice that fully addresses both the emotional and practical needs of young people as they begin the transition from adolescence towards adulthood.
An integral and essential element of this approach to caring for young people is the “Learning to Look After Me” programme specifically created for the young people living at Westfields and Hillfields, but equally accessible to the older children living at Springfields. It is designed for those young people that are seen as old enough and grown up enough to begin thinking about what they are going to do when they leave our care, and when they are no longer being cared for by their local authority.
The Learning to Look After Me ASDAN accredited programme takes the young person through a range of skills and abilities that we think they will need to have when they leave Westfields or Hillfields. It is an accredited training programme leading to an ASDAN qualification geared to supporting the young person, over a 12-18 month period, through experiential learning in how to begin to look after themselves so they do not have to rely so heavily on adult support.
We have designed the programme in a way that allows the young person to start learning the easier and more basic things first, and gradually move on to learn the more difficult and complicated things later. Similar themes are grouped together under different modules; for example, skills and abilities related with Food and Eating are grouped under one module.
For each module, there is a list of skills and abilities that the young person will be expected to practice. For most of the skills there is also tasks to complete to evidence that competency has been achieved. A record of achievement shows that the young person has achieved each module.
Achievement of modules is assessed and verified by the Assistant Head Teacher of The Lioncare School, and count towards attainment of a range of nationally recognised ASDAN qualifications at different levels.
The young person’s Casework Manager and Caseworkers help them with each level, offering advise, support, and encouragement if they find things difficult to grasp. Other adults are also around to help as we recognise different adults have different skills and aptitudes.
Each “Learning to Look After Me” ASDAN programme is individualised in order to help the young person to learn how to look after themselves properly in their own time and at their own pace.
For more about our Therapeutic Practice Approach, please click here.