The ADCCTO introduced the report which highlighted the level of demand placed on Thurrock’s statutory social care service for children. Demand had been managed by the service through early intervention which had reduced the number of children being placed on a child protection plan.
The data in the report also showed:
· Thurrock was closing more looked after children cases than its comparator group.
· Looked after children were placed well in stable placements with 64% of looked after children under 16 in the same placement for more than 2 years which provided long term stability.
· Significant improvements had been made in placing children within Thurrock at 42% which was 10% higher than the previous year.
· 11 children had been forecasted to be adopted by the end of the financial year.
· Housing remained a key challenge for young care leavers but the Head Start Housing Programme would address this to ensure support was offered to ensure a supported transition into independent living.
From the summary provided within the report, Thurrock was still forecasted to perform better than the east of England average and they were one of the best performing authorities to complete its assessments within a timescale.
Pointing to paragraph 3.29, the Chair queried when the report would be expected. The ADCCTO explained that the deep dive study was currently being carried out. The Lead was pulling the report together and analysing it which would be brought to the LSCB before going to Corporate Parenting Committee.
Referring to paragraph 3.31, the CER asked when the Committee would expect to see the service’s self-evaluation report. This would be prepared in April and shared with the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee afterwards.
Councillor Spillman brought up some cases he had in housing and mentioned about the lack of supervision with young care leavers who had been left in debt arrears. He questioned how this would be fixed. Regarding intentionally homeless families, the ADCCTO explained that children’s social care supported them through paying rents but the issue was a home for children to live in. The service supported the family by finding a home the family could afford to live in but there was an expectation that the family also looked for suitable accommodation. The service did work with the housing department to find homes for these families as well. Councillor Spillman continued by saying that there needed to be bespoke solutions to individual circumstances and a framework in place to support families. A framework and policy should be in place for every social worker to follow.
The IADLIS added that the service had worked hard with young care leavers to ensure they managed finances well and there were programmes to help them. She said the service worked well with the housing department, particularly in regards to the houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) scheme which was doing well. Councillor Spillman felt the after care service had not worked well as young people had fallen into rent arrears.
1.1 That the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee noted the areas of improvement in children’s social care, work undertaken to manage demand for statutory social care services and highlight areas of further investigation for deep dive studies.
1.2 That the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee noted a new inspection framework had been introduced by Oftsed for children’s social care.