1. Chris Nunn (Senior Management Information Officer, Children, Young People and Education) introduced the report that set out the Performance Scorecard for Children in Care and highlighted the key performance data and targets that needed to be monitored to promote the best outcomes for children and young people looked after by Kent County Council.
(a) In response to concerns raised regarding the direction of travel, Mr Nunn confirmed that, regardless of how big or small an increase or reduction in performance may be, the direction of travel would reflect that trend. Therefore, whilst it was important to monitor the direction of travel, attention also needed to be paid towards the change in figures. Mr Nunn agreed to incorporate additional guidance notes in the report to clarify how performance was measured. In addition, Matt Dunkley (Corporate Director of Children, Young People and Education) agreed to revise the Children in Care Performance Report to include data on the direction of travel over a set period of time and identify ways to illustrate this.
(b) With regard to caseload levels, Sarah Hammond(Director of Integrated Children’s Services East (Social Work Lead)) said that there had been a 0.2% increase due to the combination of newly qualified Social Workers and reduced caseloads in the first six months of their arrival. Ms Hammond confirmed that the newly qualified staff were not additional but they had replaced more experienced staff who had left the service. Other unprecedented circumstances such as children in care in court also impacted on performance measures as the number of children per family varied from case to case which may have prolonged the adoption process. Ms Hammond was pleased to announce that the percentage of children leaving care who were adopted was 16.6%, which was above the target level of 15%.
(c) Mr Nunn confirmed that the demographic breakdown for Kent’s Looked After Children included the cohort of Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers, a vast majority of whom were male. If that cohort were removed from the statistics, the data would reveal a very different picture. Mr Nunn agreed to circulate a revised report, excluding Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers, to the Panel Members as requested.
(d) Caroline Smith (Interim Assistant Director, Corporate Parenting) said that a narrative was produced on a monthly basis which captured the movement of Children in Care. With regard to adoption figures, one child could cause a green rating to move into a red. This may be due to the complex nature of a particular case whereby a child with a disability may require greater care, therefore impacting on the length of time it would take to find the correct family for that child.
(e) Ms Smith confirmed that Kent was on track for the number of families who could be adopters. As of 2018 over 100 children had been placed with 89 adoptive families. The National Adoption Week was held from 15th to 21st October to raise awareness and promote the benefits of becoming an adoptive family. Ms Smith was pleased to announce that it was a very positive campaign and Kent received a very good response. Kent was not struggling to find adoptive families and she assured the Panel that there was a very small cohort of children in care with disabilities which caused prolonged processes as it was essential that the right families were being matched to those children. Mr Nunn agreed to circulate to the Panel Members the adoption figures as requested.
2. It was RESOLVED that the performance data in the Children in Care scorecard be noted.