Agenda item

Annual Safeguarding Report - Children's Services 2018-19

For the Select Committee to scrutinise the annual safeguarding report for Children’s Services 2018-19 before consideration by Cabinet.


The Committee received the Annual Safeguarding Report – Children’s Services   2018/19 (Item 8 in the Minute Book) for pre-scrutiny before being presented to Cabinet on the 10 December, from representatives of the Director of Children’s Services.  A presentation also accompanied the report.


Officers introduced the item by drawing Members attention to the full Ofsted inspection of Children’s Services in April/May 2019 which gave an overall judgement of ‘Outstanding’ and outstanding in each of the three domains, with two areas to develop further.  It was noted that Hampshire County Council was one of only two Local Authorities to receive this overall judgement, and this provided a high level of assurance about the standard of the Service as a whole.


Members were taken through the presentation slides and various issues were highlighted which included County Lines and national developments.  It was heard that in relation to County Lines, this was not just a Hampshire issue, but a growing national concern.  The work of the Willow Team was highlighted in relation to this and it was noted that the multi-agency team continued to work closely with Hampshire Constabulary in disrupting County Lines activity.  In relation to national developments, officers explained how unaccompanied asylum-seeking children were looked after, and it was noted that after the age of 18, the Authority was still responsible but they didn’t count against the government set targets.


Officers highlighted the number of full time looked after children in recent years as set out at page 11 of the presentation, and it was noted that in August 2019, the number of children in care was lower than it was in September 2018.  It was explained that more children were being kept safely at home, especially the teenage cohort.


Attention was drawn to the work undertaken in relation to the recruitment and retention of social workers in Hampshire.  It was heard that the career life of a social worker averaged seven years and work had been successful in building resilience with the implementation of a protected two year programme for newly qualified social workers.  Officers also highlighted work undertaken in developing the Hampshire Approach which would enable more children to be kept at home through resilience working with families.


Officers outlined future challenges and the number of children entering the care system was seen to be a continual challenge for the department, with the annual cost for a child in care approximately £60,000.  The increase in social media use amongst children and young people and online abuse was also seen as a growing challenge both regionally and nationally. 


In response to questions, Members heard:

·         That the cost of children in care differed according to where the child was placed, with an independent foster home averaging £60,000 a year and non-county residential care averaging £150,000 a week.

·         Work was ongoing to ensure where appropriate, children were placed in foster care which provided a family environment rather than residential care.  

·         Many unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) were placed in communities with people from their own country as a means of providing support in areas such as language.  Access to further education, employment and accommodation were also provided.

·         That the family support service was now working with more children then ever before, as was the whole professional network.

·         That child exploitation through technology and online abuse was a continuing concern.

·         That work was ongoing which was looking at how best to prepare children during the transition to adulthood and equip them with the relevant skills to live independently.  It was recognised that some young people wouldn’t be ready to live independently, and in these cases higher cost placements were funded.

·         That Councillors who sit at both a district and borough as well as County level could help to raise issues at a local level in relation to commissioning accommodation for care leavers.


The Vice-Chairman raised that he was pleased with the comments received from Ofsted and to see the continued progress made despite the savings required.  The leadership and staffing quality were also praised.




That the Children and Young People Select Committee noted and supported the recommendations being proposed to Cabinet in the attached report.

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