Barnsley Council’s Cabinet members will be asked to approve a refreshed version of the borough’s Placement and Sufficiency Strategy for Children in Care 2017-20 Strategy at their next meeting on Wednesday, 30 May.
The Children Act (1989) means that by law, local authorities have to take reasonable and practical steps in ensuring enough accommodation is available for children who are in or are entering care. These are young people who, in the interest of their safety and overall wellbeing, cannot live at home.
The council’s original Placement and Sufficiency Strategy was considered and approved by Cabinet at a meeting in March 2014.
This is the second review of strategy which has considered current and future challenges. These include the national and local rise in the numbers of children in care; the increase in unaccompanied asylum seeking children in the region; and the closure of council-run children’s homes in neighbouring boroughs which have affected the availability of placements. All of these factors have resulted in a greater reliance on the independent residential sector.
The refreshed strategy has therefore been drawn together in light of these issues, responding to current and emerging challenges in order to ensure the council can meet the accommodation and support needs of children in care in the most effective and efficient way possible.
The strategy sets out the progress that has been made since the last review in 2016 as well as key actions to be taken forward. This includes securing a more resilient system which meets the needs of a broader group of children, specifically teenagers.
As part of this, Cabinet has already approved changes to the payment of allowances to the council’s in-house foster carers which will help recruit and retain a greater number of such carers.
Continuing to develop family support and early intervention and prevention services are also essential, if the council is to prevent children from entering care, where appropriate.
These objectives will require an increase in investment amounting to £0.9 million by 2019/20 in order to comply with our statutory duty to maintain sufficient accommodation and our Pledge to Children in Care.
Cllr Margaret Bruff, Cabinet Spokesperson for People (Safeguarding) said:
“Our refreshed Placement and Sufficiency Strategy will enable all vulnerable children to receive the right kind of help and support at the right time and in a way which is right for them, while ensuring the resources currently available are used more effectively and efficiently.”
The report can be read in full here https://bit.ly/2GGL96O