Coun­cil spends £400k a week on chil­dren in care

‘Ev­ery penny well spent,’ coun­cil­lors told:

Cynon Valley - - FRONT PAGE - AN­THONY LEWIS news­[email protected]­

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.”

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