Agenda item

Children's Social Care Performance - Quarter 4 2021-22

Minutes:

The report was introduced by the Assistant Director of Children’s Social Care and Early Help.

 

The Assistant Director of Children’s Social Care and Early Help explained that as a receiving Authority for unaccompanied asylum seeker children Thurrock often has higher levels of care leavers than other Local Authority’s as they often come into the system around 16 -17 years old.

 

Adoption numbers are starting to go up following lots of delays in court proceedings as a result of Covid.

 

The Chair was pleased to note that the number of children subject to a Child Protection Plan was below our statistical neighbours as well as the national average and thanked the Team.

 

Councillor Worrall queried the figure that 50.6% of care leavers aged 19-21 were in part or full-time education, employment or training and questioned why 50% of care leavers are not doing any of these.

 

The Assistant Director for Children’s Social Care and Early Help responded that a year ago the number was at 41.4 % as some of the care leavers really struggled through Covid to access education and employment. She confirmed they are being creative to support young people back into education.

 

The Assistant Director for Education and Skills explained that they have panels meeting weekly and staff are contacting them every other day. She stated that the figure is not where they want it to be and she agreed they have a lot of opportunities in Thurrock such as the Prince’s Trust and On-track Thurrock Programme but the issue is engaging care leavers. Covid had an impact on this group of young people and a lot of them experienced mental health challenges. She commented that hopefully they will see an increase in these numbers as we come further out of the pandemic.

 

Councillor Worrall raised the issue of housing for young people and asked what work is being done with the local plan and highlighted that young people cannot go on the housing list if living with their parents or a responsible person.

 

The Assistant Director for Education and Skills confirmed that they are heavily involved with colleagues in housing to identify units to support care leavers. They currently come into the ‘Head Start’ housing scheme and they get them ready for a tenancy. She explained that you can’t just put a young person in a property without the support around it. She assured members that they are involved in the local plan.

 

The Corporate Director for Children’s Services stated that the Youth Cabinet are also involved in the local plan.

 

The Assistant Director for Children’s Social Care and Early Help explained that when looking at housing for care leavers they try to make the plans so that it is the right housing at the right time. Some young people want to stay at home so if they are in foster care that might mean a staying put arrangement. Not every person is ready to live on their own at 18.

 

Councillor Worrall queried if a foster child went to university could they return to their foster placement in Thurrock when they want to come home.

 

The Assistant Director for Children’s Social Care and Early Help stated that in respect of a staying put arrangement both the foster carer and the child must agree to it. If the child is going to a university far away they will be supported to return to their foster placement in the holidays and they will fund this. It is expected that a young person from Thurrock who wanted to return to Thurrock after completing university would be housed in Thurrock.

 

Councillor Coxshall queried the number of foster placements over 20 miles away.

 

The Assistant Director for Children’s Social Care and Early Help explained that they do always try to place children close to home and within 20 miles. Recently they had a large sibling group that couldn’t all be placed in the same placement but they wanted them to be in placements close together so they could have carers who could work together to preserve the sibling relationships and in this instance the placements were over 20 miles away. She noted this was not the only reason to explain the figures but an example of why this was decision was made in this case.

 

Councillor Snell commented that overall this is a good news story and we should be proud of this. Officers have done well to get these figures going back in the right direction and he thanked them for their hard work.

 

The Chair echoed Councillor Snell’s comments.

 

RESOLVED: That the Committee:

 

1.       Reviewed the areas of improvement in Children’s Social Care and work undertaken to date to manage demand for statutory social care services.

 

 

Supporting documents: