Dorset Council works to improve services for young people

WORK is underway to erode the ‘cliff edge’ between child and adult services in Dorset – although the council recognizes that more needs to be done.

Many young people supported by Dorset Council find the transition from one service to another difficult and often overwhelming.

One adviser, Toni Coombs, said for more than a decade that the problem seemed to have been placed on the ‘too hard pile’ – and welcomed the fact that a strategy was being developed to smooth the edge. from the cliff between the two services.

Many young people switch to adult services at age 18, although others, often with additional needs, make the switch at age 25.

A range of measures are currently being introduced at Dorset Council to facilitate the transition process, including changing the way the authority operates, training staff to better understand potential difficulties, involving stakeholder groups and new procedures – all of which should be in place by next April.

A background report to the People and Health Review Committee acknowledged: “Child and Adult Services recognizes that the current operating model to support young people throughout the transition to adulthood in the community. Dorset has not provided the exceptional service that our community and us as an organization need. aspire to… .the current model of transition to adulthood is not strong, is not consistent and, more importantly, it fails our young people.

A 2019 inspection report found that the board did not provide good information to young people preparing for adulthood and that transition arrangements were often not well planned or completed on time.

Up to three-quarters of people supported by transition counseling to adult services have a learning disability as their main reason for needing help. The committee heard that within this cohort there were 172 currently aged 18-25, costing them £ 188,000 per week to care for. Many of this group will need lifelong support.

Dorset Council currently has 400 children and young people awaiting specialist school placement under the age of 16, a high proportion of whom are expected to require future adult welfare services.

The committee heard that there is still a backlog of referrals although the number is declining.

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