The Strategy Team Leader, Helen McAloon, delivered performance information against the key performance indicators, for the first quarter of 2023-24 (for copy of report and presentation see file of minutes).
The Panel noted that whilst the number of children and young people in care continued to increase, Durham was in line with regional and statistical neighbours. In particular, there had been an increase in the number of babies aged under 1 and the number of 10-15 year olds entering care. During the quarter, there had been an increase in the number of social workers with fewer than 25 cases. The number of initial health assessments and review health assessments completed within timescales had reduced and data was being reviewed to identify any underlying issues. In terms of placement stability, it was reported that the number of children undergoing three or more placement moves in any one year had reduced, however longer term placement stability was slightly below the benchmark. The number of missing incidents had increased, however the completion rate for return to home interviews had improved. More detailed information on missing incidents will be brought to a future Panel meeting.
There was a positive picture with regard to the number of care leavers in suitable accommodation and whilst the number of care leavers in education, employment and training was in line with benchmarks, there was room for improvement.
In response to a request from the Panel that data on the number of children placed with friends and family be included in future reports, the Strategy Team Leader agreed to include the data in the next performance update. The Panel noted that the number of children placed within family / friends networks continues to increase.
The Panel queried whether the number of social workers was sufficient to meet the increasing demand. The Deputy Corporate Director of Children and Young People’s Services acknowledged that the recruitment and retention of social workers is a local and national challenge, therefore work to support staff recruitment and retention is ongoing.
The Panel commented on the number of missing incidents and the impact on the wider community, in particular police resources. Officers assured the Panel that multi-agency work is undertaken and in some cases, the community may play a part in the solution.
That the report and presentation be noted.