Members received a report from the Strategic Director – People, which provided the Children in Care Scorecard for the end of year (31 March 2018), with a particular focus on children’s placements.
It was reported that the majority of children in care were in foster placements; a mix of in-house foster placements and external independent foster placements (IFAs). There were 76 fostering households within Halton and 19 households were at various stages of the assessment process.
Members were advised that a collaboration had been launched with Warrington, Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester, to improve the marketing, recruitment and assessment of foster carers via a co-ordinated recruitment and marketing hub which was launched in April this year. Staff had already seen an increase in enquiries to Halton to be assessed as foster carers.
The report discussed the importance of having sufficient foster carers within the Borough and advised that the training and support given to foster carers was being revised, to help them develop skills to care for children with more complex and challenging behaviour. The report also provided detailed information on the various different types of placements of children in care.
The Board was advised that the sufficiency strategy for placements had been refreshed and a number of actions were identified, as the capacity in fostering and residential services both in-house and via agencies had been reducing. Shortly a placement team would be established with dedicated roles to manage the identification and sourcing of independent fostering and residential placements and to build better relationships with the independent sector, as detailed in the report.
Members raised the following questions:
Can an individual foster in two different Boroughs?
No you have to be registered with one agency.
With regards to SafeBase and attachment training – could this be extended to schools’ governors?
The Virtual School Head (VSH) had additional duties under the Children and Social Work Act 2017. Officers agreed to raise with the VSH how governors could be informed about the work that was being done with schools. It was reported that the Council was in the process of bidding for an area of funding for the Virtual School Head to be able to assist and support children in care.
Were there any statistics relating to the success of adoptions in Halton?
The Local Authority remained in touch with adopting parents for 3 years after the order was made. Following that contact was taken over by the area where the family live. It was highlighted that the teenage years tend to be when problems arise, relating to social media for example, and the child contacting the birth family.
The Adoption Support Fund was available whereby an adopting parent can request an assessment of the child and apply for help such as therapy. Actual percentages of breakdowns were not immediately at hand, however a company called CoramBAAF had data relating to this. Officers would apply for this and forward to the Board.
Were the time limits still in place for adoptions?
Yes they were and challenges were still being faced regarding adoptions of siblings and BME children.
RESOLVED: That the report be noted.