Report of Strategic Director, Care Wellbeing and Learning
A report was presented on the work underway to reduce the number of children subject to Child Protection Plans.
It was reported that the number of CPP has reduced to 244 this week, this is the lowest since July 2018. Since January 2019 there has been a change in the way the Social Work team operates; the Assessment and Intervention Service now assesses families and continue to work with them under child in need arrangements. Trends are monitored through monthly performance clinics.
In this years Ofsted inspection the service was judged as ‘good’ in relation to the progress of children who need help and protection.
It was reported that domestic abuse is the most significant factor in children being on CPP’s for over two years. In response to this a series of Practice Innovation Groups have been set up to look at different ways of working with families who experience domestic abuse.
It was noted that the cohort of LAC is fairly static and young people are remaining looked after for longer, therefore the impact on the service is great. In terms of the cohort the gender split has remained fairly consistent, with 56% being male. The greatest proportion of LAC are within the 10-15 year old population, although there has been an increase in the 0-4 year old age group becoming looked after.
Committee was advised that over 25% of the current LAC cohort have been in care for more than five years which is consistent with previous years.
In terms of early permanence performance is good, with double the amount of Special Guardianship Orders. Adoption numbers remain very static.
It was reported that over the last year a number of measures have been implemented to ensure care planning is right at the earliest stage. These measures include; monthly care team meetings to ensure stable and secure placements and look at section 20’s, audits on performance data, bespoke packages of support and practice innovation groups.
It was acknowledged that while numbers remain consistent, data has changed, for example there are now more family and friend placements with a number of improvements in a lot of areas.
In terms of court proceedings it was reported that 62 cases were issued last year, there has been a 43% decrease this year compared with last, with only 36 cases being issued to court. This reflects the impact of work at an earlier stage to prevent them coming into Care is being effective.
It was questioned why there has been an increase in the number of 0-4 year olds becoming looked after. It was noted that there is a high number of under two’s, however this is usually the ones that can be turned around quickly. It was acknowledged that those young people 14 years and over are particularly challenging as many come into the service having had no previous contact. Work is ongoing to establish whether something is required earlier on specifically for teens.
It was also questioned as to what is attributable to the decrease in children and young people entering the care system. It was acknowledged that those families do still exist [JG1] but more work is underway with them at an earlier level. The service has been restructured and assessment and intervention is carried out, strength based models are in place to help families work for themselves. This is a good indication that early work is helping.
It was noted that a new foster carer recruitment campaign will be launched in January so it is hoped that this will increase the number of foster carers.
It was questioned what work is in place to deal with the increasing number of domestic abuse cases. It was acknowledged that previously the response was very fragmented, however now there is a team based all together and managed by one person. The team takes a very proactive approach in contacting victims and carrying out intense work with them. Previously it was found that CPP were finishing too soon and sometimes those parents were getting back together with the abuser or a succession of abusive partners, therefore sometimes the longer plans are in place to ensure the safety of the child. In addition, as part of CPP’s, work goes on with the perpetrators as there is a worker in the Assessment and Intervention Team who specialises in this work.
RESOLVED - That Committee is satisfied with the level of support children
and families receive in Gateshead.
[JG1]I’m not sure this sentence makes sense? I’d suggest “the impact of work at an earlier stage to prevent them coming into Care is being effective”.