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Agenda Item No

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 17 June, 2013

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

Joint Funding of Residential Placements for Children Looked After by the Council

Purpose of the Report

1. To propose that a joint budget is established for meeting the education and social care costs of placements in residential homes in respect of children with highly complex needs who are looked after by the Council.

Recommendations

1. It is recommended that Cabinet approves establishing a joint budget to meet the education and social care costs of residential placements for children with highly complex needs who are looked after by the Council, initially as a pilot scheme for one year from 1st July 2013.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1. To ensure efficient and effective financial management of residential placements for children looked after by the Council.

Background

2. Currently, the costs incurred by the Council in providing residential placements for looked after children are funded from budgets held by both the Social Services and the Learning and Skills Directorates. Where Continuing Health Care funding applies, contributions may be received from the Cardiff & Vale University Health Board (UHB). The process for determining the allocation of costs to each funder can be difficult and time consuming; the outcomes often lack clarity and consistency.

3. The Social Services budget is used to fund care placements for looked after children who have a high level of complex needs or challenging behaviour and who have been assessed as requiring specialist residential care placements. The Learning and Skills budget is used to fund the educational needs of children and young people who have complex needs and who have been assessed as requiring specialist educational provision outside the county's mainstream and special schools. 

4. These children are small in number but they are especially vulnerable; meeting their assessed needs is a corporate parenting priority for the Council. Both Directorates and the UHB have a shared commitment to developing joint assessment, planning and decision-making processes that will ensure better outcomes for these children. The current ad hoc arrangements for agreeing contributions to the overall cost of specific placements do not assist effective planning for them. 

Relevant Issues and Options

5. All looked after children requiring specialist residential placements are considered at the Children and Young People Services multi-agency Complex Needs Panel.  It comprises relevant officers from Social Services, Learning and Skills and the UHB. The Terms of Reference for the Complex Needs Panel, attached at Appendix 1, include the following criteria for presenting cases:

  • Any looked after child or young person who has been assessed as having additional challenging or complex needs which cannot be met in local mainstream provision and which require the provision of residential care.
  • All children and young people in existing residential provision for review by the Panel on a minimum six-monthly basis.

6. As stated previously, responsibility for the funding arrangements in respect of current placements falls in the majority of cases to the lead (i.e. the placing) agency. This is most likely to be Social Services, with varying levels of contribution from Learning and Skills.

7. Following discussions about possible changes in arrangements for funding placements, it was decided to scope the possibility of establishing a joint placement budget with access only through the Complex Needs Panel. This would allow proper corporate decisions to be made about how best to meet the individual needs of our most challenging looked after children.

8. To establish the joint budget, it is proposed that funding is transferred from the budgets of both Directorates.  Placement costs within Learning and Skills and Social Services for cases which meet the criteria for the proposed joint budget have been identified. This information has been used to determine the percentage contribution to the budget by the respective Directorates.

9. Once a child has been identified as being eligible for funding from the joint budget, all the costs of caring for the child and meeting their needs will be charged to that budget (i.e. the total cost of the whole package of support for the individual child or young person). These costs will include the residential care placement, all transport costs, respite care costs and any additional service provision required to support the placement.

10. The budget holder for the joint budget will be the Head of Children and Young People Services who will have responsibility for monitoring and reporting the position of the budget.

11. If agreed, it is proposed that this arrangement is piloted for one year in the first instance.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

12. It is proposed that the joint budget for 2013/14 will be £3.15 million.

13. The budget will be established by transferring the existing Learning and Skills expenditure of £320k with the remaining balance of £2,830k being transferred from Social Services. This provides a percentage ratio of 90% Social Services and 10% Learning and Skills on existing placement spend levels.  UHB contributions via continuing health care arrangements will continue unchanged.

14. If the budget overspends, it will need to be topped up from Learning and Skills and Social Services budgets, based on a 10% / 90% percentage contribution into the pool (having taken into account any contribution from the UHB. If the budget is underspent, then use of the underspend will be determined at that time.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

15. There are no direct implications arising from this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

16. The proposal is to create a budget to which the Learning and Skills and Social Services Directorates will contribute and the budget holder will be the Head of Children and Young People Services. The Learning and Skills and Social Services Directorates of the Local Authority have separate and distinct duties and powers; these will continue to be delivered as they are currently. Subject to compliance with financial regulations and audit requirements, there will be no legal implications in setting up this internal budget. Each Directorate will continue to have their respective duties and responsibilities.

Crime and Disorder Implications

17. There are no crime and disorder implications arising from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

18. There are no equal opportunity implications arising from this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  • To support children and young people to enjoy a healthy life free from abuse, victimisation and exploitation.
  • To ensure that all children and young people have a safe home and community which support their physical and emotional well-being.
  • To improve outcomes for learners deemed to be vulnerable due to a range of factors affecting their general wellbeing.

    Policy Framework and Budget

    19. This is a matter for Executive decision.

    Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

    20. The appropriate Chief Officers have been consulted.  This report does not require Ward Member consultation.

    Relevant Scrutiny Committee

    21. Social Care and Health.

    Background Papers

    Appendix 1    Complex Needs Panel Terms of Reference

    Contact Officer

    Carolyn Michael, Senior Group Accountant

    Officers Consulted

    Corporate Management Team

    Officers in Learning & Skills and Children & Young People Services

    Accountant - Education and Schools

    Legal Services

    Responsible Officer:

    Philip Evans, Director of Social Services and Lead Director for Children and Young People

    Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Office

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