The Bright Spots Programme helps local authorities better understand the well-being of their children and young people in care (aged 4-18) and care leavers.
Currently official statistics provide only a partial picture of children in care and care leavers’ lives. Data focuses on areas such as where children live, how many moves they have and how they are doing in terms of education and employment. None of this information tells us about the experience of care and leaving care from young people’s own viewpoints: are they happy, safe and feel they are doing well?
The Bright Spots programme, developed by Coram Voice and the University of Bristol, directly addresses these gaps in our knowledge. Coram Voice (with funding from Coram-I) created a new set of care leaver well-being indicators to allow services to design their work around what young people say is important to them. The indicators are measured by the online survey Your Life Beyond Care (YLBC). YLBC complements the existing survey for children in care Your Life, Your Care (YLYC).
The survey tools are strongly evidence based. They were developed with children and young people and have been carefully tested and piloted. The design process involved workshops with 170 looked after children and care leavers, literature reviews and cognitive interviews. We also included the perspectives of professionals and policy-makers.
Understanding and responding to children and young people’s voices and experiences are the foundation of high-quality services. But local authorities can struggle to engage a wide range of young people. Even where participation is strong, often only a minority of children and young people inform service development in their authority (e.g. through care leaver groups or ambassador roles). Our YLYC and YLBC surveys offer local authorities the opportunity to hear from their young people on a larger and more systematic level than ever before.
To date, the surveys have been used in 28 English and 6 Welsh local authorities.
Whilst the findings of the surveys are important for each individual authority taking part, by aggregating the results across local authorities we deepen our understanding of looked after children's and care leavers’ well-being. We have already published two national reports detailing the findings from our children in care surveys in 2015/16 and 2016/17. Both Our Lives, Our Care reports are available from www.coramvoice.org.uk/brightspots
We are particularly excited to be able to share here the first insights from our care leaver survey - Your Life Beyond Care.