Derbyshire County Council says it has made a number of improvements and strengthened services for children in care or at risk of harm, families who need social work support and young offenders.
Over the last two years the authority says it has reduced adoption waiting times, reduced social worker caseloads and youth offending rates, maintained the quality of its children’s homes and dealt efficiently with referrals about children at risk of harm.
Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Young People Councillor Alex Dale said: “Not every Derbyshire child has the best start in life and they and their families may need extra support along the way.
“We take an ‘every day counts’ approach with the children in our care and aim to move them into loving family homes as quickly as possible. Meanwhile we’ve worked hard to maintain the quality of our children’s homes.
“The work we’ve done over the last two years has resulted in improvements in these areas as well as strengthened social work teams, reduced youth offending rates and responding within tight deadlines to calls about children who are at risk of harm.”
Derbyshire County Council says it has achieved the following over the last two years:
- Reduced the average time it takes for a child to be adopted after coming into care from 18 months to less than a year
- Reduced the wait between a court approving adoption and a child moving into its new home from 10 months to 148 days
- Started to make progress in reducing caseloads for children’s social workers and over the coming year plan to recruit up to 80 new children’s social workers to reduce caseloads yet further
- Maintained 90% of its children’s homes at a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ Ofsted grading and remain committed to keeping the Derbyshire children in its care in Derbyshire
- Made a commitment to making decisions about children referred to its ‘Starting Point’ contact centre as suffering or at risk of harm within one working day. Despite a 20% increase in referrals over the last two years, decisions were made within one working day on more than 97% of the 10,153 referrals made to Starting Point last year.
Meanwhile, the number of young people entering the Youth Justice System for the first time and the proportion of young offenders who re-offend has been consistently lower in Derbyshire than the national average for more than five years placing the council’s performance in the top 25% nationally.
Councillor Dale added: “While this is all good news we are not complacent and strive to make yet further improvements to ensure children get the best possible start in life and that we support families and young people who most need our help.”