Durham County Council has been praised by Ofsted inspectors for its work to prepare and support young people as they leave care.
The council works closely with care leavers, ensuring they have suitable accommodation and offering advice on education, training, employment, money and personal wellbeing.
During a two-day inspection focusing on these services, Ofsted inspectors trawled records, held case discussions, and spoke with young people with experience of being in care.
In their report, they say leaders have a “detailed understanding” of strengths in these service areas and where further improvements can be made.
They go on to praise the council for allocating personal assistants (PA) to care leavers well in advance of their 18th birthday.
This early involvement, they say, “helps to ensure that planning for adulthood starts early”.
Inspectors also describe young people telling them of their “strong and caring relationships” with PAs, with many saying they view them as “extended family members”.
And they commend the council for its “meaningful” collaboration, saying “the voice of care-experienced young people is central to decision-making”.
Their closing summary says the council is “diligent in its efforts to ensure that care-experienced young people are given the opportunity to achieve their goals”.
Cllr Ted Henderson, Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “This is our first focused Ofsted visit since our children’s services were given an overall ‘Good’ rating in summer 2022 and we’re delighted to receive such positive feedback.
“While this is a really strong report, we are far from complacent and it was pleasing to see inspectors recognise that we do not stand still, but regularly review our service offer to make sure care leavers have access to all the support they need.
“A good example of that is the recent opening of our second care leavers’ hub, which is a place where care leavers can get access to support and advice services, take part in activities and meet others who may have had similar experiences.
“Being corporate parent is a huge responsibility and like any good parent, we strive to do our very best for the children and young people in care and we are very ambitious for their futures.”