Report of the Chief Officer for Children’s Services (CS/18/39), on a sufficiency strategy for placements and services for children in care, care leavers and disabled children, attached.
An Impact Assessment is also attached for the attention of Members at this meeting.
(Councillors Connett and Dewhirst attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item).
The Cabinet considered the Report of the Chief Officer for Children’s Services (CS/18/39), circulated prior to the meeting in accordance with regulation 7(4) of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012, on a sufficiency strategy for placements and services for children in care, care leavers and disabled children.
The Report highlighted that as Corporate Parents, the Council was committed to ensuring children and young people in care achieved the best possible outcomes and were well prepared and supported to step into adulthood with the support they needed. When children and young people could not remain within their family, they required permanence and stability in care in settings which met changing needs over time.
Section 22G of the Childrens Act (1989) set out a ‘sufficiency’ duty for Local Authorities, who were required to take steps to secure, so far as was reasonably practicable, sufficient accommodation for children in care within their local area. In 2010, the Statutory Guidance for the Sufficiency Duty was explicit in placing a duty on Local Authorities to act strategically to address gaps in provision.
Sufficiency was approached in collaboration with partners across the area, including Peninsula Commissioning Partners and other bordering authorities. The sufficiency strategy for placements and services for children in care, care leavers and disabled children was attached as Appendix 1 to the Report and had been informed by those principles. It further outlined how the Council would ensure that children and young people who needed to be in care could grow up in high quality provision that was well matched and effectively met their immediate and long-term needs. The Strategy linked to the Council’s wider strategy for children in care, which included Devon’s Corporate Parenting arrangements.
In developing the strategy, there was a stage of further engagement (after listening to children in care and working with providers) during September and October 2018 to allow a testing of the priorities. It was shared with commissioners and also reviewed as part of a Scrutiny Liaison Autumn Briefing session with Members in October 2018.
The Cabinet noted that the Sufficiency Strategy would be reviewed and refreshed on an annual basis.
The Strategy also outlined the commissioning intentions for 2018/19 and 2019/20, which included;
· Framework Agreement with providers of placements within Residential Children’s Homes (a Peninsula contract with 4 neighbouring authorities), the Council’s contributions being in the region of £12 million per year;
· Framework Agreement for Supported Living Options for the provision of accommodation and support for young people aged 16 and above who were Children in Care or Care Leavers. The value of this contract was in the region of £14 million over a 4-year period;
· Block contract to secure residential beds in Devon to the proposed value of £10.78 million over a 5-year period; and
· Some Residential Short Breaks Services, funded by the Council and NEW Devon CCG and South Devon & Torbay CCG. The value over a 5-year period was estimated at £6.5 million.
The Chief Officers Report also incorporated an Impact Assessment for the attention of Members at the meeting, which highlighted the potential for commissioning intentions and priorities identified within the Sufficiency Strategy for Children’s Services to achieve positive social impacts for Devon’s children in care, care leavers and disabled children and economic impacts for Devon as a whole. The Cabinet noted that any action plans responding to the commissioning intentions and priorities contained within the Children’s Services Sufficiency
Strategy produced would be monitored and overseen by Children’s Services Senior Leadership Team.
The Chief Officer undertook to make minor amendments to the Strategy, as highlighted at the meeting.
The matter having been debated and the options and/or alternatives and other relevant factors (e.g. financial, sustainability, carbon impact, risk management, equality and legal considerations and Public Health impact) set out in the Head of Service’s Report and/or referred to above having been considered:
It was MOVED by Councillor Hart, SECONDED by Councillor Davis, and
(a) that the Children’s Services Sufficiency Strategy for placements and services for children in care, care leavers & disabled children be welcomed and endorsed for publication on the Council’s website; and
(b) that the commissioning intentions, as set out in the strategy be approved and for the contract award decisions to be undertaken through a delegated decision by the Chief Officer for Childrens Services in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services and Schools for the Residential Childrens Home Framework, Supported Living Options Framework, Residential Block Contract and Residential Short Breaks Contracts.
[NB: The Impact Assessment referred to above may be viewed alongside Minutes of this meeting and may also be available at: http://new.devon.gov.uk/impact/].