Cash invested in children in care

County Hall, Matlock.
County Hall, Matlock.

Children in care are to be boosted by a £1.11 million investment in an innovative pilot scheme from Derbyshire County Council.

The county council’s ‘Uni-fi’ initiative is one of just 17 local authority schemes selected from more than 130 proposals to the national ‘Creative Councils’ programme.

Creative Councils – funded by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) – awarded the authority an initial grant of £30,000, and additional support, to develop ideas to:

* Help children in care do better at school and go to university if they want

* Increase the number of care leavers in employment, education or training.

Now the authority’s Cabinet has improved a further £1.11 million investment, over three years, to expand the opportunities on offer through the scheme.

This includes:

* Giving children in care from school year 4 onwards a clear offer of financial and practical support

* Developing an e-portfolio to create networks between young people in care – and those who support them – and record achievement to help the authority reward successes through incentives

* Pairing young people with mentors of their choice to help them succeed.

Councillor Barry Lewis, Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Young People, said: “We were delighted to be chosen from hundreds of schemes across the country and are excited about the opportunities our scheme will offer young people.

“We want children in care to have every chance to succeed and this project helps us support them and give them the same advantages that children living with their families across the county enjoy.

“We’re delighted one of our mentors will be our chief executive, Nick Hodgson, as it is important to give young people in care positive role models.

“We want to make sure all our children in care, and care leavers, know they can set their minds to anything and achieve.”

A project board, with representatives from across the children’s trust, including the voluntary sector and Derby University, is leading the authority’s scheme.

NESTA will share Derbyshire’s good ideas, and those of the other pilot local authorities, with councils across the country.