Out of County Placements
- Meeting of Audit Committee, Wednesday, 24th September, 2014 10.00 am (Item 31.)
- View the background to item 31.
That the report be noted.
The Chief Officer (Education & Youth) introduced the report detailing commissioning practices relating to out of county (OOC) placements, in response to a request made by Councillor Alison Halford at the previous meeting.
The report outlined the reasons for the Council’s use of OOC placements and the joint approach taken to commissioning placements between Education, Social Care and Health colleagues. The Chief Officer acknowledged the high expenditure on OOC provision, as set out in the report, but pointed out that the cost implication of capital investment and revenue funding to create similar provision within Flintshire was not considered to be the best use of public money when, for example, good educational provision for children on the autistic spectrum was available across the border at Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn in Denbighshire.
The Principal Learning Advisor Inclusion explained that OOC provision was only used for individuals with more complex needs and stressed the importance of meeting needs despite the significant cost and small number of individuals involved. She went on to refer to the review of OOC commissioning processes in 2010 where a series of outcomes had been agreed, as set out in the report, and that the introduction of new legislation and Educational reforms would generate further collective working between the three agencies: Education, Social Care and Health. Reference was made to the composition of the multi-agency OOC Panel responsible for considering placement options and the assessment activity taking place to reach that stage.
The Principal Learning Advisor Inclusion also commented on Flintshire’s involvement with the North Wales Commissioning Hub and gave assurance that the processes in place to commission OOC placements were robust and were subject to monitoring and challenge to determine the most appropriate outcome.
In response to comments from Councillor Halford on the cost of OOC provision in Denbighshire, the Chief Officer said that the core charging rates were set out in regulations but that the availability and suitability of alternative placements were always given consideration first. When asked about any financial implications arising from issue of the Welsh Government (WG) Continuing Health Care Guidance (Children), the Service Manager (Resources) said that additional funding would not be available from WG. He stated his view that the contribution by Health was fair and that the intention was for Education and Social Services colleagues to work with the Health Board on these changes. The Principal Learning Advisor Inclusion spoke about the positive relationship with the Health Board and the other North Wales Councils in the Commissioning Hub.
Following comments from Councillor Ron Hampson on Ysgol Maes Hyfryd, the Principal Learning Advisor Inclusion said that pupil numbers were high in this school which was working creatively to maintain provision for children with specific learning needs. She also referred to the success of Coleg Cambria in helping pupils with the transition from specialist schools to college.
Councillor Glyn Banks welcomed the report and asked about the potential for Flintshire to buy into OOC provision. Officers spoke about the priority to work collaboratively for the benefit of young people and to utilise the expertise in place, ensuring that other learners were able to take advantage of facilities which were available. It was stressed that sustaining current OOC provision such as Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn was in the interests of Flintshire and Wrexham.
That the report be noted.