Agenda item

Children's Social Care Performance


The DCS stated the importance of informing Members on the performance of Children’s Services. He outlined the report which highlighted the high level of demand placed on Thurrock’s statutory social care service for children. A badly run social care system would face the consequences of potentially being taken over by the Government and having to form a Trust. The service needed more permanent social workers to manage the volume of work to address the level of demand. The department was also focussing on recruiting more foster carers so that children could be looked after by Thurrock’s own foster carers.


Councillor Redsell questioned the number of people leaving and coming into social care work. She followed on with another question regarding Children Looked After (CLA) from other local authorities (LA) in private homes within Thurrock. Other LAs could place their CLA in private homes within Thurrock but they were responsible for the CLA and had to notify us of the CLA in the private homes within Thurrock. This placed pressure on services within Thurrock as CLA would attend our schools, use the GPs etc. There had been no figures on staff turnover in social care but it should be low. The Children’s Services department were doing well in recruiting and retaining staff as they were quite competitive in quality, training and safety. The DCS would be able to get the actual figures in staff turnover for social care.


Councillor Collins sought clarification on the number of unaccompanied asylum seekers mentioned in the report for CLA. There were 38 and this figure was a comparison out of 318. Councillor Collins went on to ask what the average ages were for missing children. The Assistant Director for Children’s Services and Targeted Outcomes (ADCSTO), Sheila Murphy, said the average age was 15 – 16 but there were some 17 year olds who would go missing. Very few younger children tended to go missing. Councillor Collins further asked whether they were found again. Most were found quickly in a short space of time and those found the next day were often at parties, with family members or other places they had not been given permission to go to. There was currently a 16 year old girl who had been missing for four months and was being tracked through her social media and phone records. The police were involved in trying to locate her but had not found her yet. There were procedures in place regarding missing children and the department also had regular strategic meetings with the police. Once the girl was found, the plan was to put her in a welfare secure home to ensure she did not run away again.


The Vice-Chair expressed concern over the missing girl and hoped that she would be found soon. Regarding the referral figures on page 73 of the agenda, he said it was an improvement but asked if these figures were currently standing still. The Officer for Strategic Lead, Performance Quality and Business Intelligence (SLPQBI), Iqbal Vaza, replied that these figures were a comparison to the previous year and this year saw Children’s Services performing better. The referrals were down but they were still above the Eastern region averages. The Officer for SLPQBI were waiting for the published data to confirm. The Vice-Chair went on to comment on the difficulty of comparing other regions to Thurrock given its geographical location. Some LAs were similar to Thurrock but none were very similar. The department was working with colleagues to investigate on the reasons for the high number of referrals.




1)    That the Committee note a new performance management framework has been introduced by the DCS following the recommendation from Ofsted.


2)    That the Committee note the areas of improvement in children’s social care, high demand in Thurrock for statutory social care services in comparison to England and eastern region average, and highlight areas of further investigation for deep dive studies.


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