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Agenda item

Looked After Children - Children with Disabilities - Report of Strategic Manager, Families First South


The Panel considered a report and oral presentation of Elizabeth Stenton, Strategic Manager for Families First South, Linda Spence, Team Manager and Judith Rayne, Operations Manager, which informed the Panel of the remit of the Children with Disabilities Service (for copy of report see file). 


Members were informed that there are currently 153 open cases, 11 of whom are looked after children.  A number of children suffer from multiple conditions and the service works to identify the right provision to achieve the best outcomes.  External providers enable parents and carers to access short breaks from caring. 


The Chair asked about those looked after children with disabilities who are not open cases and asked if there is provision for them.  The Team Manager explained that families requiring assistance are able to access the service, for example, via referrals through One Point.  


The Panel noted that statistically the service performs favourably when compared to neighbouring authorities and Councillor Robinson spoke anecdotally about a meeting he had attended in London where a representative from Ofsted cited Durham County Council’s Children with Disabilities Service as an example of good practice.  The Team Manager commented that the staff work very hard and representatives from neighbouring authorities have visited Durham to observe the service.




Cllr McKeon referred to a previous meeting at which a care leaver suffering with a mental health issue had encountered difficulties accessing help as there had been a gap in the provision between the Children’s and Adult Services.  Cllr McKeon asked whether safeguards are in place to ensure that there is no gap in provision for young people with disabilities, during their transitions.  The Head of Children’s Social Care clarified that the Disabilities team does not generally work with young people with mental health problems, their focus is linked to young people with significant physical health problems. The transition for looked after children with mental health issues remains a priority and work is ongoing with the Child and Adult Mental Health Service (CAMHS) to address this.


The Head of Children’s Social Care advised that, for children and young people with additional needs, and their families, the transition from Children’s Services to Adult Services can prove to be difficult.  She explained that Durham has created a transition service to help support all disabled young people, who come into this team from Children’s Services at the age of 13.  The transitions team works to ensure that young people with additional needs, and their carers, have access to a planned, positive progression when they approach adulthood and move into Adult Services.


Councillor Smith asked if this includes health services, as there are specific paediatric consultants within children’s health services, however there are no similar specialisms within adult health services.  The Head of Children’s Social Care informed the Panel that the transitions service provides for 0-25 year olds, and includes health services in order to deliver the best package of care into adulthood.


Councillor Jewell asked about out-of-county provision.  Judith Rayne explained that some educational provision packages are out-of-county, especially 52 week placements.  Parental choice is also a big consideration, with many parents wishing to send their children to Percy Hedley school, which is a high cost provision.  Work is taking place with the Head of Education and Skills and the SEND Manager to look at further developing the in-county provision.




That the report be noted.


Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714