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Agenda item

Annual Performance Report - Supporting Solutions - Report of Strategic Manager, First Contact & Specialist Countywide Service

Minutes:

The Panel received a report on the activity and development of the Supporting Solutions Service from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 presented by Lisa Wood, Strategic Manager, First Contact and Specialist Countywide Service (for copy see file).

 

The Strategic Manager informed the Panel that the Supporting Solutions Service is continuing to develop the service to meet the needs of young people, parents, and carers.  The offer of support includes Edge of Care support, Family Group Conferences, a Missing from Home Co-ordinator, Child Exploitation Workers and access to crisis beds.  The Panel heard how the service had maintained its offer throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure families continue to have access to support, with all young people on the edge of care having access to the same level of support as had been available to them, prior to the pandemic.

The service has recognised that there is an increasing number of children of a younger age presenting on the edge of care and a pilot project ‘Edge of Care Minis’ has been established to support 7-11 year olds.  </AI8>

 

The service has also responded to the need for extra support from families experiencing domestic abuse, with a full time worker from the Domestic Abuse Team being seconded to the service.  In addition, a dedicated Child Exploitation worker is available to work with those at risk of exploitation and an additional Missing from Home Coordinator has been appointed to ensure return to home interviews are offered in a timely manner.

 

The Strategic Manager for First Contact and Specialist Countywide Service then responded to questions and comments as follows.

 

The Vice-Chair asked how the service has expanded to provide support to young people under the age of 11.  The Strategic Manager explained that the service was developed in 2018 and the young people presenting on the edge of care at that time were predominantly aged 14-18 years.  However during the first year, a demand from those aged 11-14 was observed and new members of staff were employed as a response.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, there had been an increase in those aged under-11 requiring the service and the ‘Edge of Care Minis’ pilot was established to address the demand.

 

Councillor Surtees welcomed the work with regard to domestic abuse, with  the appointment of a dedicated Domestic Abuse worker, and stressed the importance of the focus on the child in families where domestic abuse is a factor.

 

Councillor Varty spoke anecdotally about the Edge of Care staff showing great enthusiasm in their work and how she has confidence that family group conferencing is successful.  She encouraged staff to keep up the good work.

 

Councillor Coult enquired about the number of young people who repeatedly go missing from home. The Strategic Manager responded that the majority of young people who go missing from home go missing on only one occasion.  However, each time a child goes missing from home, a return to home session is held.  When a child goes missing from home three times in one month, a multi-agency meeting is held, and, if required, a formal strategy is put in place to ensure the child is safe.  The Strategic Manager also noted that during lockdown a lot of activities, such as meeting friends were prohibited, so if young people did this they could be classed as missing from home.

 

 

Councillor Miller commented on the pleasing progress with regard to the reduction in risk for young people at risk of exploitation.  The Head of Children’s Social Care echoed Councillor Miller’s comments, saying she was proud of the developments in the service and she congratulated the team on being shortlisted for a Local Government Chronicle national award, which is testament to their hard work.

 

Heather McFarlane, Designated Nurse for Safeguarding and Children Looked After asked the Strategic Manager whether the service feels it  receives the necessary support when children who require health interventions go missing from home.  The Strategic Manager replied that health colleagues are very much a core and part of the team, however, there is always more to do in terms of joint awareness and training on early warning signs and sexual health and it was agreed that Heather would discuss link-working with the Strategic Manager.

 

Resolved:

 

That the report be noted.

 

Supporting documents:

 

Contacts
Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
Durham
County Durham
DH1 5UL
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