Agenda Item No. 4












The Head of Children and Young People’s Services presented the report, the purpose of which was to outline the actions taken within the Children and Young People’s Services during 2014/15 with regard to placement provision for Looked After Children (LAC) and the priority actions for 2015/16.


In providing a background summary the report outlined that resource management in children’s social care was inherently problematic.  This was particularly the case in the area of children’s placements.  The number of children with complex needs was increasing and meeting these needs within appropriate placements was placing pressure upon budgets.  This cohort of children related both to those with challenging and complex behaviour and to those with disabilities.  The costs of placements for children with complex needs could exceed £200,000 per year.


Within Children and Young People’s Services, the major issue was the continuing pressures on placements for Looked After Children.  This was the Division’s most volatile budget and the one that most depended on levels of service demand which were not within the Council’s direct control.  One of the key savings projects for the Division related to residential placements for Looked After Children, with a target of £150,000 in cashable savings each year between 2014/15 and 2016/17. 


Attached at Appendix 1 was a report which officers had analysed the financial position, the demand for placements and the spending patterns. 


A Committee Member queried as to how the Division would know that service users were happy within their placements.  In response, the Committee were advised that all Looked After Children would have a Social Worker and regular visits would be undertaken as part of statutory requirements.  In addition, regular placement meetings are held and independently chaired Looked After Children reviews take place within specified timeframes.  Furthermore, regular consultation exercises would be undertaken in order to understand the views of children who are looked after.


The Committee requested an update around the new residential unit and was advised that close monitoring of the home was undertaken which included police involvement in instances of children going missing.  Social Workers would also write regular reports of their visits to the home and quarterly meetings would be held with the provider.  A second home in a more rural setting was being developed and the provider had applied to the CSSIW for registration.  However, this could take 12 weeks and the Division was looking at September 2015 in regard to when the new unit would open.  Members were also advised that the Division was still to decide whether a third unit was needed.


In terms of some of the benefits of the approach to bring placements back to the Vale, the Committee was advised that some specialist placements could cost thousands of pounds per week depending on the type and setting of the placement.  There were also other cost considerations such as Social Work time in travelling to and from a long distance placement.  Importantly there were also benefits for the young person, such as being able to have more contact with family and friends and with being able to attend the same school.


In response to a Member’s query regarding an update of the ‘When I Am Ready’ scheme, the Operational Manager for Children and Young People’s Services stated that the Division was preparing for a 2016 implementation start date, for which all young people placed with foster carers would be able to remain within the placement post 18 years of age.  At present, the Division was planning for around 8 such young people who had expressed the wish to remain with their foster carers.  This would increase to 10-15 during the next financial year. 


With regard to the possible cross over between Looked After Children and remand placements, the Committee was informed that at present there were no remand placements but there were three last year.  The challenge here was to produce community based plans.  The Youth Offending Service had an important role in this process and it was vital to make the very best use of preventative strategies.


Having considered the report the Scrutiny Committee




(1)       T H A T the contents of the report be noted.


(2)       T H A T the Committee receives regular updates through existing reporting arrangements including the monthly budget programme report and six monthly reports on the Children and Young People’s Services Commissioning Strategy and the Foster Carer Recruitment Strategy.


(3)       T H A T the Committee receives a further Annual Placement Review report in July 2016.


(4)       T H A T the report be referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) for information.


Reason for recommendations


(1-4)    To provide Members with an opportunity to exercise oversight of this key statutory function.”






Attached as Appendix – Report to Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 13th July, 2015