John Coleman - Assistant Director - Children & Families gave a summary to the committee of the investment plan for Children’s Change and Transformation over the last three years.
Confirmation of the investment plan was given, including information in relation to the funding from the Department of Education and where the council had worked with Leeds City Council on the Warwickshire Family Value project.
The committee noted from the report that the impact of the work had been very positive and noted that more children are now receiving help earlier. Over 150 professionals from across Warwickshire took part in the Early Help Summit in January 2023 to explore future developments in this area.
It was noted that robust and effective support to families has led to fewer families starting and entering course processes; approximately 55% of cases are now diverted away. There has also been a marked increase in supporting children to live with families with Special Guardianship Orders.
It was confirmed that the Change and Transformation programme will be reviewed and evaluated over the next 12 months. Every quarter officers will meet with parents, carers and children. The full research report will be available after that but the council does have a lot of the data already.
John Coleman continued and stated that there are still things that need improving within the service such and the stability of placements. There are fewer children in care but there are not enough foster carers or placements. The committee noted that there is a continuous improvement plan in place that will sustain the cultural change and improvements.
Following a question from Councillor Brett Beetham, it was confirmed that the Caring Dads Programme (working with fathers in order to change controlling, abusive and neglectful behaviours) is in place and has been positively received by those taking part. It has positively impacted 158 children and young people. The programme will continue as there are now enough officers to support it.
Following a question from Councillor Brian Hammersley in relation to becoming a foster carer, and how some people seem to be put off by how hard it appears to be, John Coleman confirmed that there is a really good package in place for Warwickshire in a competitive market. Warwickshire offers psychological support every 6 months as well as financial support. There is national guidance to follow and there has to be an assessment by a social worker. It was noted that the process can take up to three months. Councillor Hammersley asked if fostering could lead to adoption which was confirmed by John Coleman but it was noted that it doesn’t always have to lead to adoption and it was important that those wanting to be foster carers were aware of that.