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Agenda item

Quarter Three 2018/19 Performance


The Panel considered a report and presentation of Stephen Tracey, Corporate Equality and Strategy Manager which provided an overview of performance in relation to looked after children and care leavers during the quarter (for copy of report and presentation see file of minutes). 


The presentation included information on the characteristics of the cohort of children in care and care leavers, the provision of stable environments and the health and wellbeing of children in care.


Councillor Makepeace referred to the data on stable environments being provided for children in care and commented that although the average number of days between a child entering care and moving in with their adoptive family is provided, it is not meaningful without knowing how quickly the adoption process can be completed.  Councillor Makepeace requested that additional data be provided on this, to give clarity.


The Legal Services Manager informed the Panel that in order to place a child for adoption, the court must grant a Placement Order which is an order authorising the local authority to place a child for adoption. If the child is easy to match with prospective adoptive parents, the child could be placed within weeks of the care proceedings concluding, but in other cases there will be a longer wait.  The Head of Children’s Social Care informed the Panel that the data provided in the report forms part of the national data set return which enables the data to be comparable with other local authorities.  However consideration will be given to providing the data in a more meaningful way for the purposes of Panel meetings.


Panel members expressed concern at the number of children who are not being provided with a health assessment within 20 days and raised a question as to how much longer these children are waiting for health assessments. The Head of Children’s Social Care advised that children’s services work alongside the health professionals and children’s services are required to complete the necessary paperwork and ensure that parental consent is in place within 5 days.  If this is not completed within 5 days, there is a risk that the health assessment will not be completed within 20 working days of the child becoming looked after. Targeted work has been undertaken between January and March with the aim of increasing the number of assessments completed within the 20-day target  and it is hoped that this will lead to a noticeable improvement after March.  The Panel noted that there will be a small number of older young people who will refuse to give consent to a health assessment.


Councillor Charlton asked about those young people who are missing  / absent from care and requested clarification on the data which shows an increase in the number of children who are reported missing and a reduction in the number of incidents. The Corporate Equality and Strategy Manager clarified that whilst there are more individual young people going missing, the number of times they have gone missing has reduced


Councillor Grant asked how ‘suitable accommodation’ is defined and the Strategic Manager for Looked After Children and Permanence replied that suitable accommodation is defined as accommodation where a child is not at risk.  Panel members commented that although being in custody is not defined as suitable accommodation, it may be the most suitable accommodation for that young person at that particular time.  The Strategic Manager for Looked After Children and Permanence commented that a wide variety of suitable accommodation is offered, and it may be beneficial for the Panel to be provided with descriptors to provide context.


One of the young people from the Children in Care Council commented on the outcomes for care leavers and expressed concern at the percentage who are not in education, employment or training. 


The Strategic Manager for Looked After Children and Permanence responded that some of these young people will be young parents caring for babies, others may have learning difficulties and she added that it may be useful for the Panel to be provided with some narrative on case studies at a future meeting.


It was agreed that more narrative would be provided, by way of context behind the headlines, for future performance reports.




That the report be noted.


Supporting documents:


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