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County's growing demand for children's care

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Northamptonshire County Council faces a projected overspend of £4.4m in its Children & Young People’s directorate - 80% of which is attributable to an increase in demand on social care services for children, young people and families.

Northamptonshire County Council faces a projected overspend of £4.4m in its Children & Young People’s Directorate - 80% of which is attributable to an increase in demand on social care services for children, young people and families.

The number of looked-after children has increased steadily in the county over the past few years, particularly in those areas with higher social deprivation.

The council says this can be attributed to a number of reasons:

  • the effects of the Baby Peter case
  • an increase in the numbers of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children
  • the result of Serious Case Reviews filtereing down to frontline staff who are implementing the subsequent recommendations

The council says it has historically had relatively low numbers of looked-after children with caseload numbers below national average.

“Had this trend continued, the current pressures would not have been experienced. However, numbers have risen against previous trends and at a level that was not envisaged so it could be surmised that there is a greater financial impact on Northamptonshire than perhaps in other areas of the country,” it said in a statement.

The number of looked-after children at March 2007 was 564, rising to 660 at March 2009. The number of looked-after children at May 2009 had risen to 675. This represents a 19.5% increase over two years.

The county’s total caseload of children in need is also increasing with 3,350 in March 2007 and 4,100 children in May 2009 - a 22% rise over two years.

To address the potential overspend and to meet service demand, the council is:

  • introducing area-based working to offer an opportunity to use a new integrated structure to deliver significant improvements in outcomes to children, young people, families and communities
  • establishing a resource panel to consider all looked after children and make sure the services the children and young people are receiving are appropriate
  • ensuring enough local authority foster carers to reduce the amount spent on private fostering agencies
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