Saturday, 26 May 2007


2,580 city children on the files FILES on more than 2,500 children are being kept by Sunderland social workers, according to a report. Cases are opened if it is believed a child is at risk of neglect or abuse from its parents or carers. Social services staff are monitoring 2,580 children. With 25 electoral wards in the city, that's an average of 103 per council ward. The Southwick ward has 184 children on files. The figures come from social services officers, who have drawn up a five-year Children and Placement Strategy for the city. It aims to cut the number of youngsters being taken into care and put into children's homes or placed with foster parents. In 2001, there were nearly 500 children in council care. That has now dropped to 460. Social services staff believe it should fall further as they introduce measures such as a seven-day week for family support workers. They also want to strengthen working between agencies such as Sure Start and the Children's Fund. Barbara Williams, head of children's services with Sunderland Social Services, said the aim was to work in partnership with other agencies for the best possible outcomes for a child's well-being, health and education. She added: "We have reviewed our strategy for looked-after children and placements and have set out how, over the next five years, we will work to achieve the right balance between services to support families, and the provision of family-based care (fostering and adoption), residential care and supported accommodation for care leavers." The report also outlined how, at the end of last year, there had been an increase in the number of boys in council care. Typically, of children that were classed as being in residential or with foster homes, there were normally 25 to 35 more boys than girls. Yet that difference rose to more than 50 boys by the end of 2003 and the report noted that it was difficult to place older teenage males with foster parents. About £30million is spent on children's services every year, and city councillors will examine the reports at a cabinet meeting tomorrow. They are being asked to comment on it for any revisions

No comments: