New campaign urges potential foster carers to offer caring new homes for children in care

 

A newly commissioned YouGov survey reveals an 11 per cent shortfall between people interested in fostering and actually becoming full-time carers

The survey, commissioned by You Can Foster the North of England-based fostering campaign to which City of York Council belongs, reveals that of all UK adults 12 per cent have considered or are considering fostering a child but currently, only one per cent actually become full-time carers.

The campaign running during Foster Care Fortnight (8-21 May) aims to encourage the 11 per cent of people who are interested, to take the next step, become foster carers and create 25 much-needed new homes in York where children can receive the love and attention they need.

Foster carer Karen Wortley has looked after about 70 children and young people in York over 11 years. “I’d always wanted six kids but sadly that didn’t happen, so we thought we’d adopt. But we tried fostering first and enjoyed it so much that we’ve carried on.

“I’ve given a home to babies, teenagers and emergency placements from a few hours to seven years and regularly give short breaks for a disabled child alongside caring for three teenagers including Amy.

“It’s so rewarding. People I’ve fostered who are now in their 20s still ring up or call round. It’s such a lovely feeling to know I’m the first person they want to share things with. Fostering is so worthwhile – I’d always recommend it.”

Eoin Rush, assistant director of children’s services at City of York Council, said: “We are committed to placing our children and young people in York in high quality foster care and matching them with carers who will help them settle and thrive.

“To ensure we have enough good quality carers like Karen and to replace those who move away or retire, we want to recruit another 25 foster carers to give our children and young people – like Amy – the best possible chances in life.

“There are a number of myths around fostering which are stopping people taking the next step; people thinking they’re too old, that they won’t get the support they need, that their sexuality, employment or marital status makes a difference to their chances of fostering. Call us to chat through how you can help and how we support you.”

Fostering is looking after a child or young person who can’t live with their own family for a number of reasons. This can be a very difficult time for the child who’ll need lots of support and care.

In York, foster carers are needed for children including:

  • Brothers and sisters
  • Teenagers
  • Children needing long-term foster care
  • Children who need specialist care because of additional needs.

If you think you could give a child or young person a loving, stable home please call 01904 555333 or visit www.york.gov.uk/fostering and we’ll support you every step of the way.

Fostered young people’s and carers’ match day with York City FC

Fostered young people and carers in York have been invited to a match, a behind-the-scenes tour and training at York City Football Club’s home ground.

YCFC fostering

L-R Phil Smith YCF inclusion officer, foster carers Kevin Lumley and Julie Arthur, Joe Scargill, YCF coach.

The carers and young people in care watched the Minstermen beat Braintree United at Bootham Crescent, before being invited for an after-hours visit to the grounds and a kickabout with York City Foundation coaches last week.

Foster carer Julie Arthur has looked after 78 children and young people over 21 years in York. She watched the match against Braintree United which the Minstermen won 3-0. “I took six lads along to the match and we really enjoyed it before eight of them went along for the tour and the training on 20 April. They did a warm up, passing skills and had a game. That’s a privilege not many get.

“The visits mean they meet others in care so they know they’re not the only ones, and I get to catch up with other carers.

“This fun is in addition to the more serious training and support we get to help the young people we care for.”

Foster carer Kevin Lumley said: “Treats like this give the carers and young people a real boost – we really looked forward to it and enjoyed the experience. Thank you, York City.”
(more…)

30 young people in York to be stripped of housing benefit

 

Over 30  young people in York central constituency will be affected by the Conservative government’s decision to strip 18-21 year olds of housing benefit, research by the House of Commons library commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has shown.

In total 18,000 young people across the country expected to be affected. The Liberal Democrats have committed to reverse the cuts, which came into force at the beginning of this month.

York is already suffering from  homelessness, with official figures showing there  were 18 rough sleepers in 2016. Charities have warned that stripping 18-21 year-olds of housing benefits could push more young people onto the streets while research has shown it is likely to cost taxpayers more than it saves.

 

Figures from the House of Commons library showing the number of 18-21 year olds in receipt of Housing Benefit who will be impacted can be found here (link)

The latest figures on rough sleeper by local authority can be found here (link)

Charities have warned the policy will risk pushing thousands more young people onto the streets. Research by Heriot Watt University has claimed the policy will save just £3 million. This means if just 140 more young people were made homeless, the policy would actually cost taxpayers more money overall than it saves. (link)

Nearly 93 per cent of York children get a place at their first choice of primary school

 

City of York Council is pleased to announce that almost 93 per cent of York children have got their first preference for a place at a primary school for September 2017.

Figures published today (Tuesday 18 April) detail primary school admission figures for entry to reception for the start of the next school year.

In York, 92.9 per cent got their first preference and 98.3 per cent got one of their first three preferences. For comparison, the percentage of children achieving their first preference was 94.4 per cent in 2016 and 92.3 per cent in 2015.

The number of online applications for primary school places has continued to increase. Parents who applied online will be notified of their child’s place by email at 10am today, letters are being posted today to parents and those with online accounts can log in to the council’s parent portal at www.york.gov.uk/parentportal.

In 2017 all children within the local authority area have secured a primary school place. The majority of children got one of their first three preferences with the number of children whose preferences were not able to be met fell to 25.

This year’s admissions figures, compared with last year’s are outlined below:

 

2016

2017

 

qty

%

qty

%

1st

1,853

94.4%

1,828

92.9%

2nd

71

3.6%

78

4.0%

3rd

10

0.5%

29

1.5%

4th

1

0.1%

6

0.3%

5th

0

0.0%

2

0.1%

Other

27

1.4%

25

1.3%

Total

1,962

100.0%

1,968

100.0%

Applied Online

1,795

91.5%

1,825

92.7%

 

What’s on in York: Easter Family Festival

Parliament Street (fully accessible)

Fri 14 Apr – Mon 17 April

All day

Free

Visit York Easter Family Festival LogoThere’ll be free children’s activities galore at the York Easter Family Festival!

York’s Chocolate Festival will be returning too for the full four days as part of York’s Easter celebrations with a chocolate market, demonstrations and workshops.

In Parliament Street you’ll find the Little Vikings Easter Activity Tent, with face painting, Easter crafts, drama classes, storytelling, dance classes, forest school classes and computer coding. New inside the tent this year, is a sand art activity, running all day from Friday to Sunday. For two weeks from Friday 7 to 24 April, Parliament Street will come alive with a children’s funfair and Sunday will see the Shambles market transformed with a fun bunny trail, where families can enjoy street food in the new Shambles Food Court.

Families can also follow a new Chocolate Easter Trail, to support the Lord Mayor’s charities. All you need to do is buy a trail card for £3 at the Visit York Information Centre, follow the map to locations across the city and solve puzzles along the way. Each participant will receive a chocolatey treat, generously donated by York Cocoa House and one lucky winner will take home a scrumptious York Cocoa House chocolate egg.

For more information please visit our website.

900 extra York children getting 30 hours childcare places

In York, 1,930 children are taking up their entitlement to 30 hours childcare during the spring term 2017 – that’s 900 more places than City of York Council was asked to deliver by the government.

The council has now exceeded its target set by the Department for Education (DfE) of providing free, additional hours to 1,036 in York. In fact even more children were eligible than was first estimated and, thanks to the council working with local early years providers and the DfE, this demand has been met.

Since September 2016, the council has secured 100 per cent commitment from all of York’s 220 providers of early education places. These include private nurseries, playgroups, childminders, out of school clubs, schools with nurseries as well as the council-run St Paul’s Nursery School. This overwhelming support of the scheme is enabling hundreds of working parents in York to benefit from 30 hours childcare, as the early roll out programme exceeds its targets.

The 30 hours offer – which will be available for working parents of three and four-year-olds across the whole country from September – aims to save families around £5,000 per year and help them get back to work or increase their hours if they choose to.

 

Confirmation that over 5,400 parents have already been allocated  places nationally comes just one week after the government launched its Childcare Choices website: www.childcarechoices.gov.uk.

The site sets out details of all of the childcare support available for parents from across the government and allows them to register for email alerts that will notify them when applications for 30 hours open nationally.

What’s on in York: BBC Get Creative Weekend!

Here is your chance to join in workshops run by 4 professional local artists in 4 local libraries and loads of creativity for BBC Get Creative Weekend in York.

BBC Get Creative Weekend! – Mosaic workshop with Catherine Boyne-Whitelegg

Date: Fri 7 Apr
Time: 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Venue: Bishopthorpe Library
Cost: Free

More

BBC Get Creative Weekend! – FELT BROOCHES with Kat Wood

Date: Fri 7 Apr
Time: 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Venue: Fulford Library
Cost: Free

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BBC Get Creative Weekend – PAPER MARBLING with Emily Harvey

Date: Sat 8 Apr
Time: 9.30am – 12.30am
Venue: Copmanthorpe Library
Cost: Free

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BBC Get Creative Weekend – ORIGAMI with Linda Tomlinson

Date: Sat 8 Apr
Time: 9.30am – 12.30am
Venue: Dunnington Library
Cost: Free

More

York High school criticised by Inspectors

Set to become an independent  “Academy”

The governments OFSTED inspecting body has released a damming report into teaching standards at York High school. The inspectorate has leaked the report to the media before posting it on their web site. This is hardly the behaviour of a responsible organisation and an action which will frustrate both teachers and parents as they seek to learn more about the “failings”.

In reality several pupils at the school have done remarkably well in recent years and the denigrating comments in The Press about the Westfield community are both  ill informed and prejudiced. Unfortunately open media comments pages often provide a channel for the bigoted who usually hide behind a cloak of anonymity.

The school is judged by OFSTED to be “coasting” having received a “good” assessment from the same Inspectors as recently as 2012.

Still, recent poor exam results – particularly in science and languages – have cast a shadow on a school which started in 2009 with an impressive record of innovation and achievement.

The head teacher has already announced his resignation paving the way for a fresh start.

The government will give the school no option but to change to “Academy” status. It is looking to form a link with a group which includes Millthorpe This means a new governing body will be appointed. It may not include community representatives while even parents may lose their voice. 

Academies have been criticised in the past for paying high wages to senior administrators and some teachers.  On a split campus, which also includes the Energise leisure centre, good relations with neighbours are even more important.

So a sorry saga. The sooner the school is able to move on the better for all concerned.

 

 

Another big York Council contract let in behind closed doors decision

£1 million plus contract for social care started on 1st February 2017 – authorised last week

In April 2016, the York Council considered a major shake-up in its housing support programme. The service had been costing York taxpayers over £2.5 million a year.

The users of this support programmes short term services include the homeless, young people at risk (16-25 year olds including care leavers and teenage parents) offenders, mental health, substance misuse and domestic violence.

Long term services support residents with permanent needs including older people; learning disabilities and mental health.

A report to the Council’s Executive last April said,

The approach is one of “co-design” with the Council setting some minimum requirements but requesting providers to submit proposals that identify the added value that can be provided and setting out a five-year vision for service delivery which will further enhance provision across the City”

It was expected the the new approach would save taxpayers around £750,000 a year. The new approach anticipated an increase in activity by volunteers.

At about the same time the government announced a cap on the total amount of housing benefit payable to social housing tenants. At the time this was expected to impact heavily on supported accommodation services  like hostels.

The 2016 report said,

There is however apprehension amongst providers and partners regarding the significant service change that will take place and any resulting reductions in capacity. Some customers have also expressed anxiety over potential change of providers but this will not be known until after the outcome of the proposed “tender” exercise”.

The services put out to tender were Community Wellbeing and Support Services for:

  • Adults (including Mental Health, Homeless, substance misuse, offenders and Young People)
  • Older Persons
  • Young People – Supported Lodgings

The expected total cost of providing these services was £1.27 million (a saving of £750,000)

It had been anticipated that the contract would be awarded in September 2016 with implementation from 1st February 2017.

It appears that the contracts have only recently been authorised although they were implemented at the beginning of the month. (There is a suspicion that the responsible Council official actually agreed the contract in December).

Papers were published on the Council’s web site on Friday but reveal very little either about the cost of the new contracts or their specifications (i.e. targets, outcomes).

September 2017 specification promise

There will be a suspicion that these have only been made public as an afterthought and were possibly prompted by last week’s revelations about previous contract failures.

The three contacts awarded were:

So, substantial contracts have been let apparently without the involvement of the responsible Councillors, with no visibility of the “vision”, the number of tenders received haven’t been reported, nor has the value of the individual contracts or the expected outcome specification/targets.

Some further explanations are needed we think!

*Bizarrely the report claims that the specification for this service will not be agreed until “Sept 2017”