Agenda item

Update on Children in Care

To receive a presentation from the Director of Children’s Services providing an update on Children in Care.


With the agreement of the Chairman, this item was taken before Item 6 and Item 7 on the agenda.


The Committee received a presentation from the Director of Children’s Services on Children in Care and Corporate Parenting (Item 8 in the Minute Book).  Members were taken through the presentation and various issues were highlighted.  The key triggers of children being taken into care were explained and also the process of children entering the care system which was normally either through the courts or because parents had requested this.  Officers also explained the process around a care order and an emergency protection order.


The rise in numbers of children in care was noted and it was highlighted that this was common in all local authority areas, and there were not enough foster carers to meet demand.  This had led to the use of independent providers increasing, and the costs associated with these were rising.  Members heard that 50% of private providers were controlled by three Hedge Funds which raised questions about profiteering from children in care.


The role of Corporate Parenting was explained and the role of the Local Authority assuming the role of a good parent to a child in its care, and the aspirations to achieve the best outcomes possible for an individual child.  Officers highlighted the role of the Corporate Parenting Board and the seven principles of Corporate Parenting which included ensuring children and young people felt safe in their home lives and the importance of their wishes and feelings.  Members attention was also drawn to care leavers and the importance of help and support for their transition into adulthood and leaving the care system at 25 years of age.


Officers referenced the national Bright Spots survey which was conducted every two years and explored the well-being of children in care.  It was noted that children and young people in Hampshire reported positive relationships with their carers and social workers, and there were also high percentages of children and young people who reported that the adults they lived with noticed how they were feeling.  Members noted the spelling error on page 11 of the presentation which should read “lived” instead of “loved”.


Attention was drawn to Hampshire’s Children’s Home Strategy which offered children a home environment and it was important to note that these were placements of choice for children rather than a last resort.  It was highlighted that the view of residential care nationally had been influenced by historic abuse cases, but officers were working to change this view and highlighted the number of residential care leavers who as adults, continued to drop-in and visit the homes.


In response to questions, Members heard:

·         That an increase in the number of looked after children in Hampshire from April/May 2016 was caused by a number of significant factors, which included an increase in the number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children, increased focus nationally on child sex exploitation, new technology and development of County Lines.

·         That population growth in Hampshire had resulted in 23,000 new school places being built, and this growth was reflected nationally.  The aim was to reduce the number of children in care against the growth trajectory and to safely keep more children with their families wherever possible.

·         That it was important that there was stability of school placements for children in care, and a large proportion were placed in specialist schools according to individual educational needs and may require an Educational, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).  Schools and social care teams work closely together to support educational needs.

·         That with regards to foster care, there were differences between non regulated placements, non-registered placements and other combinations, and these were all quality assured by Children’s Services.

·         That children in care were heavily involved in the design of children’s homes, and the design would take into consideration key issues such as privacy from children’s own life experiences.

·         That the Bright Spots survey completion rate in Hampshire was 36%, which was high compared to national completion rates.  These surveys provided a better understanding of children’s experiences in care and it was important to note that the experience for children in care was largely positive.

·         That a personal advisor was mandatory for all care leavers until they reached 21 years of age.





That the Children and Young People Select Committee received and noted the overview provided in the presentation.


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