Agenda item

Bright Spots Survey Results

The Committee is asked to note the report.

Minutes:

8.1 Mark Bone, Head of Services for the 11-25 Permanency Team, and Dan Gillingham, Head of Services for Children’s Commissioning, gave an overview of the results of the Bright Spot Survey. This survey investigated the views of young people in care about their experiences. It was highlighted that Gloucestershire was doing well in comparison to other Counties on metrics such as young children in care’s trust in the adults caring for them, their sense of safety and their satisfaction with their home and school environment. Survey results for care leavers were also presented. Loneliness, at 9%, was highlighted as better than other Local Authorities but still an area for concern alongside a number of care leavers reporting that they did not have good friends and were struggling to get by financially. The issue of social worker continuity was also flagged in these surveys. It was also explained that the surveys would be moving to once every two years to allow more time for implementation of improvements.

ACTION – DSU to add a Bright Spots Survey report to Committee in 2025

8.2 A member raised concern over ratings of low life satisfaction but wondered whether it was a volatile measure based on recent events. The officer explained that the exact question asked was ‘How did you feel today, and how did you feel yesterday?’ and agreed that that might be reflective of a recent bad day at school rather than a long-term lack in life satisfaction.

8.3 Another member asked for greater clarity over a comment about foster carers’ abilities to decide rules without social workers getting involved. The officer explained that there was a formal agreement that outlined which decisions would need to be referred to a social worker. They did try to delegate as much authority as possible to the foster carer, and that the longer a child was with their foster parents, the more authority those parents were given.

8.4 There was also a wide discussion around response rates which had dropped significantly. Members queried whether the appearance of improved responses might have been driven by less satisfied children simply opting to no longer respond. The officer explained that this survey did coincide with public examinations (SATs and GCSEs) which might have made it more difficult for students to respond to the survey. It was also explained that the results of the survey were triangulated with other forums such as the online pupils survey and the child in care reviews.

8.5 It was proposed by members and officers that the positive responses may well be overly positive given the less representative sample. It was also proposed that children in care may be responding as positively as they had due to how much better their foster or care experience was in comparison to what they had before. The Ambassador for Vulnerable Children and Young People highlighted that children at the forums filled out surveys in groups and her experience was that children had productive discussions whilst filling out those surveys, so her sense was that young people were being honest and taking the surveys seriously. She conceded that those young people were still a self-selected sample.

8.6 Incentives were also explored for responding to these surveys. It was explained that for the care leavers survey, there were 4 random prize draws for all who responded, and they had offered a trip to a theme park during which many surveys were completed.

8.7 A question was also raised over how exactly the survey results were being gathered. It was explained that the survey was typically administered by teachers or workers from other services who were not directly managing young people’s care as they wanted it to be given by an independent person who was not the child’s carer or social worker. It was also explained that there was a participation team that had ambassadors with lived experience of being in care of foster care.

8.8 A member raised concern about the younger groups having the fewest respondents whilst being the most vulnerable and officers agreed that more needed to be done to target non-responders.

8.9 In response to a question about what financial advice was given to young people that go through care, officers explained that for the 16+ cohort independent living skills programmes were delivered that did cover financial management.

8.10 A member also suggested that it might be prudent to advise social workers not to tell students that they would support them through their childhood given that there was such a lack of social worker continuity. It was explained that efforts were being made to build in more social worker continuity in the service.

8.11 A member asked whether young people who go through the care system were well placed to become social workers or foster parents themselves. It was explained that a number of care leavers go to train as social workers, and some were social workers in Gloucestershire now.

 

Supporting documents: