John Coleman explained that the Council is seeking to develop a one data set approach which will be more accessible to people.
A series of highlights were identified.
1. Early Help. The Pandemic has led to a 40% increase in early help provision. More family support workers have needed to be recruited. The main focus has been on mental health support, education and reintegration.
2. An increase in the number of children in care. There has bee a significant increase in the number on non-accompanied child asylum seekers in Warwickshire.
3. Disadvantaged children. It is recognised that there is more work to be undertaken with disadvantaged children who are under-achieving. A virtual head teacher role is to be created to support children who are in need. The focus wil be on support for the most disadvantaged.
Some pressure areas were highlighted.
1. Children in care continue to provide pressure. There is a need to progress permanency plans.
2. Mental Health issues. Work is continuing with the Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust although this slowed during the Pandemic.
Councillor Brian Hammersley sought assurance that the Council has sufficient capacity to manage its children in care portfolio. John Coleman stated that the Council does have capacity. The biggest issue is with placements. The Family Therapy Team helps to provide stability in placements. There remains a significant pressure for foster carers. The cost of placements has increased during the Pandemic to £3200 per week for a placement in a residential home. To assist in addressing this the Council is investing in the construction of three care homes in addition to the one that is close to completion in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Councillor Jeff Morgan stated that the Council has been doing a good job in difficult circumstances. There remain concerns over CAMHS. The Council is keen to increase the number of domestic placements and it will be a major step forward when the new children’s home in Stratford is opened.
The Council is working in partnership with Kent County Council to assist with the accommodation of unaccompanied child asylum seekers. The Council does get financial support with this. It is a topical issue with the government recently announcing additional resources for it. Support is extending beyond that for Syrian refugees to those from other countries such as Afghanistan.
It is difficult to keep track of outcomes for unaccompanied asylum seekers. Some children, particularly those from Asia, do go missing. Within around five days they will have been picked up by human traffickers. Working with the police these young people are usually found in other parts of the county. The key is to get them safely into foster placements before they can be taken. Young asylum seekers are often keen to engage in the education process. This presents its own challenges as there is usually a language barrier to overcome. The Council is keen to work with local colleges to provide long term courses as opposed to the short ones currently offered to asylum seekers. In ... view the full minutes text for item 6