Council spends £400k a week on children in care
‘Every penny well spent,’ councillors told:
RHONDDA Cynon Taf Council is spending more than £400,000 a week on children in its care.
The figure was revealed by council officers at a meeting of the authority’s children and young people scrutiny committee on Wednesday. A report into looked-after children placements showed that £435,512 was being spent on looked-after children each week.
The latest council figures, from November 7 this year, show that there were 684 looked-after children on RCT’s books with most (247) in the 10-15 age group, but figures showed there had been a drop in the number of children aged four and under in care from 186 to 172.
Of these, 177 were placed outside RCT, with 99 in neighbouring authorities, 61 in nonneighbouring authorities and 17 outside Wales.
Of the 17 outside Wales, nine were with relatives, four in residential homes, three had been adopted and one was with an independent care provider.
The figures also reveal that there were more 10 to 15-year-olds placed out of county.
Ann Batley, the service director for children’s services, said that even when children are placed out of county “they are still our responsibility”, adding: “We have a duty to them. We have to monitor them – they are part of our system.”
She said they always looked for permanency where possible but sometimes short-term placements can be beneficial.
Giovanni Isingrini, the group director for community and children’s services, said he was grateful for councillors saying that they should spend every penny they need.
“We have got really good services. It is getting more difficult but this council does not see it as a problem, it sees it as an obligation. If the numbers are going up it is because they need to, not because we want them to. We have to put the children first.”
Councillor Jayne Brencher asked if they had enough provision in RCT, given the numbers who were placed out of county and if it is more expensive to place children outside RCT.
Ms Batley said there was not enough provision at this point but that they were looking at how they can recruit more foster carers and at funding to buy a house for single placements, but they don’t want to build it just to fill it.
“We need to look at what provision is like in three to five years,” she said.
“Part of the problem is the demand all councils are making. The cost of out-of-county placements is more expensive.”
Councillor Shelley ReesOwen, the chair of the committee, said: “We will do the best for these children whatever they need. Every penny is well-spent. It would help if we were all aware of the costings.”