Issue - meetings
Improving the in-house offer for out of County Placements for Children
Meeting: 25/07/2019 - Joint Education & Youth and Social & Health Care Overview & Scrutiny Committee (Item 4)
(a) That the draft Support and Placement Strategy 2019-2022 be endorsed; and
(b) That a letter be written, on behalf of the Committee, to the Welsh Government Minister for Health and Social Services outlining the Committee’s concerns around the need for adequate resources to meet the challenges of Out of County placements.
The Chief Officer (Social Services) introduced the report explaining that out of county placements was one of the most dominant issues for all Local Authorities across the country. He explained locating good quality looked after support in Flintshire was a real issue and a challenge for the Council with insufficient resources available to meet the statutory demand. The Council was fully supportive but it was the actual money which came into the Council that was the real issue. He referred Members to page 37 of the report which outlined the costs of placement and explained how this impacted on budgets within Social Services. There was a lot of work being carried out within the portfolio, in Flintshire, the North Wales Region and wider to tackle these challenges.
The Senior Manager (Children and Workforce) added this was a national challenge with no single answer with a number of strands of work required to enable different solutions and offers to be provided to an increasing number of children with complex needs. He provided examples of how support was provided in the home, to family members, fostering and residential care. The report outlined the range of initiatives that were required to re-shape the offer provided to children and families with early support a priority to enable families to stay together, even if in some cases that was not always possible. He then referred Members page 12 of the report and provided information on the work being undertaken to support the three core ambitions:-
· To safely reduce the number of children who need to be looked after
· To support looked after children in local high quality placements
· To improve outcomes for looked after children.
Councillor Mackie sought clarification at 1.10 in the report on the term side skill. He also referred to the number of 16 year olds with lack of education or education refusers and said when a young person stopped being in education this added pressure on the foster carers and then put a strain on the whole system. He felt that there should be a scheme introduced for these young people which would provide something for them to do if not in education which would give them hope for the future.
The Senior Manager (Children and Workforce) provided a response on how side skilling employees would work with youth workers, for example, who were well placed to develop a relationship and gain trust with these young people early and identify when things deteriorate. These officers were already part of Flintshire’s workforce, working with children but side skilling enabled them to identify and offer therapeutic support and signpost children when needed. This would be in addition to their existing role. He agreed with Councillor Mackie’s comments on young people disengaging with education and said that working with schools to minimise exclusions was key but the issues were wide ranging.
The Senior Manager (Inclusion and Progression) reported that there were a number of children at Year 10 who were disengaging from education. Officers ... view the full minutes text for item 4