Greenwich Council

Agenda item.

Prevention and Diverting Children from Care - Impact of the Placement Strategy

To note the impact of the Placement Strategy in helping divert children from care. The panel is also asked to note the areas of practice to support the reduction in children requiring statutory intervention and the reduction in budget pressures on the placement spend.

Minutes:

The report was introduced by the Assistant Director of Children’s Services (Commissioning & Resources)

She confirmed the aim of the service was to make a difference in children’s lives whilst managing a budget which had previously been overspent. She emphasised that there was continuous work being done in managing the number of people in the care system and identified the links to early health services and the need for a specialist service.

 

In response to Panel Member questions on the costings of agency and in house care the assistant director stated that the key priorities were to increase in house provision which had been relatively successful. She added that the service was taking every opportunity to promote fostering and had identified training and support as some significant issues. The Assistant Director also mentioned that the use of outside agencies was a last resort and that there was a fine balance between protecting, stability and performance. She also commented on the positive partnership with the commissioning team who identified the lack of large home stock in the area and introduced a new strategy of dynamic purchasing.

 

In response to Panel Member questions on the housing needs of potential foster parents the Senior Assistant Director confirmed that adaptations can be made to properties to create more rooms for foster parents. He added that the lack of a stock of 4 bedroom houses is a challenging issue that is being discussed with planning. He also added the target area for the service was in recruiting and assessing families to take on unaccompanied minors this allows the Council to continue to support the humanitarian effort and focus proportionate attentions.

 

In response to Panel Member questions on the reduction in the number of looked after children the Senior Assistant Director confirmed they were a result of positive adoption schemes, special guardianship orders & long term foster carers. He added that there is some continued responsibility once the children are returned to family members and a more thorough assessment as to whether care is the right choice for some of the children.

 

In response to Panel Member questions on social workers the Senior Assistant Director stated that recruitment was successful as Royal Borough of Greenwich had the 3rd highest number of permanent social workers in London. He added that turnover rates were a problem nationally but that partnerships with Lewisham and Southwark Council ensure this is being tackled locally. He also mentioned that the focus on improving practice and stability in front line leadership had led to fewer interim agency staff. The Assistant Director also commented that child focused policies was leading to long standing established relationships between the children and the social workers.

 

With regards to the challenges faced in retaining front line social workers the Director of Children’s Services confirmed that the career progression for social workers was being looked at with the aim of implementing a new workforce development strategy. The chair asked for a briefing on the workforce development plan before the panel meet with social workers.

 Action: DCS

 

In response to Panel Members questions on residential care the Director of Children’s Services confirmed that the scope in the borough alone was not enough for the need of a new residential home however the possibility of a joint home with other boroughs across south London was being looked at as part of the innovation fund awarded by the Department for Education.

 

The Chair thanked Andrew O’Sullivan, Senior Assistant Director Children’s Safeguarding and Social Care for his work.

 

Supporting documents: