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Agenda item

Looked After Children and Care Leavers Sufficiency Strategy 2019-2022

Cabinet Portfolio:                 Children’s Services and Neighbourhood Working

Strategic Directorate:           Children and Young People’s Services

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report submitted for pre-decision scrutiny by the Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services ahead of the Cabinet meeting scheduled to take place on 10 June 2019.

 

It was reported that the Looked After Children and Care Leavers Sufficiency Strategy had been developed in line with the duty to provide or procure placements for Children Looked After (CLA) by the Local Authority. The legislation and guidance included the Children Act 1989, Sufficiency Statutory Guidance 2010, and the Care Planning and Placement and Case Review Regulations 2011. The duty of ‘sufficiency’ required Local Authorities and Children’s Trust partners to ensure that there was a range of sufficient placements which met the needs of children and young people in care. Furthermore, there was also a responsibility to take steps to develop and shape service provision to meet the needs of all children and young people in care at a local level.

 

Members noted that the strategy set out how Rotherham Children and Young People’s Services would fulfil its role as a Corporate Parent and meet its statutory sufficiency duty by providing good quality care, effective parenting and support to children and young people in and leaving care. It described the principles that were applied when seeking to commission the provision of secure, safe and appropriate accommodation and support to children in care and care leavers over the next three years. The LAC Sufficiency Strategy provided the underpinning needs analysis that would inform market management work, seeking to ensure that there was the right mix of provision available to meet the needs of children and young people and that the provision mix provided positive outcomes and value for money. Whilst the strategy was not primarily a financial one, it was expected that the commissioning and strategic intentions set out would provide significant cost avoidance and savings opportunities and would be essential to the sustainability of improved outcomes and the local authority budget.

 

Members further noted that the Improving Lives Select Commission had continued to monitor this area of work and had noted in November 2018 that the Looked After Children Strategy was outdated as a result of so much being done. The Commission had recommended that the strategy be refreshed, having noted that the arrival of new personnel in the service and a new approach to market management.

 

Welcoming the report, Members asked whether it would possible to include the standard deviation in respect of out of borough placements, rather than just the mean figure. Furthermore, Members recognised that the large number of looked after children might simply mean that the stock of foster carers might not be sufficient to meet the expectations of the strategy. In response, officers indicated that the standard deviation figures could be provided to Members. With regard to foster carers, it was considered that these were still available, but the authority was in competition with the independent sector who were targeting them too.

 

Members also sought further information on how officers sought the engagement of looked after children in market management. In response, it was confirmed that officers had liaised with the Looked After Children’s Council to enquire whether they wished to be involved in the work. It was felt that the strength of the voice of looked after children was developing all of the time, but a further conversation in a more engaging way to secure their involvement.

 

Resolved:-

 

1.     That Cabinet be advised that the recommendations be supported.

 

2.     That an update be provided to Improving Lives Select Commission in January 2020 on the implementation of the strategy.

 

Supporting documents: