Further to Minute No. 47 of the meeting of the Improving Lives Select Commission held on 1st February, 2017, consideration was given to a report, presented by the Head of Service, Looked After Children, providing an update of progress and development in the planned three years’ cycle of the Looked After Children Sufficiency Strategy 2017 to 2021. The report also identified where further work was still required in order to achieve the agreed objectives of this Strategy.
The Select Commission noted that during November, 2017, the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) had completed a re-inspection of this Council’s services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers and the final report of that re-inspection was due to be published on 29th January, 2018.
During discussion, Members raised the following salient issues:-
: ensuring the stability of placements, so that Looked After Children are not moved frequently from one placement to another;
: the initial health assessments of looked after children, involve a variety agencies;
: the good work and progress of the care leaving team and the good relations between the team and the young people who are the care leavers;
: the adoptions of older children (rather than babies); 55% of the children who are ready for adoption are in the hard-to-place category; every endeavour is made to find an appropriate, permanent adoption placement for children; the longest wait had been 1,600 days to place a child with a disability in adoption;
: sibling groups are able to remain together in the same placement, as often as possible; if there has to be separation, the children will be reunited at earliest opportunity; in addition, in cases of siblings being separated, the foster carers are expected to ensure that there is regular contact with the siblings;
: the availability and support for of mother-and-baby placements and also of placements for older children and adolescents;
: adoption placements for children from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds; this Authority is a pilot area for a scheme to recruit more foster carers and adoptive parents for children from BME backgrounds; there is a regular dialogue with the Council of Mosques in order to try and recruit foster carers and adoptive parents who have a Muslim background;
: development of a pre-apprenticeship scheme for Looked After Children who seek apprenticeships with the Local Authority, enabling them to be able to prepare correctly for joining an apprenticeship scheme;
: the increase in the number of Looked After Children both in Rotherham and throughout the United Kingdom; every endeavour is being made to try and minimise the number of children being taken into care; consideration is also given to returning looked after children to their family home whenever possible;
: increased use of the Edge of Care system to help reduce the numbers of Looked After Children;
: there is confidence that there are fewer children being looked after by the Local Authority than would otherwise have been case without the implementation of the Sufficiency Strategy;
: the transition planning for support from Adult Social Care now begins when the young person is at an earlier age (currently 15 years’ old).
Members were encouraged to attend the seminar about the recruitment of foster carers, which would take place on Tuesday, 6th February, 2018, at the Town Hall, Rotherham.
Resolved:- (1) That the report be received and its contents noted.
(2) That a report about the Edge of Care system be submitted to the meeting of the Improving Lives Select Commission to be held on Tuesday, 24h April, 2018.