Extra foster carers are needed to cover increase in the number of children in care across Wawickshire

Figures show a ten per cent rise in numbers over the past year including young asylum seekers from overseas which has prompted a recruitment drive.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 6:56 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 6:58 pm
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Extra foster carers are needed across Warwickshire to help deal with an increase in the number of children in care.

Figures show a ten per cent rise in numbers over the past year including young asylum seekers from overseas which has prompted a recruitment drive.

John Coleman assistant director for children and families at Warwickshire County Council, told this week’s [TUE] meeting of the children and young people overview and scrutiny committee that there were a number of factors which had led to the extra demand on services.

He said: “The numbers of children in care have increased throughout the past 12 months. We started at 704 and went up to 776 and there are a couple of different parts to that story.

“Court times have really impacted on children getting permanency and getting through the court process. That is starting to ease.

“The number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children has increased as well and that is because Warwickshire did volunteer to assist with Kent over the last 12 months as I’m sure you are all aware of the pressures there. We have taken one of the largest numbers of young people from that area and have a number coming directly into Warwickshire too.

“We have a whole range of support services and have just extended those. The biggest pressure is foster carers. We have seen during the pandemic an initial increase in the amount of people wishing to be foster carers but that was unfortunately relatively short-lived so we have invested in recruitment because we need more of them.”

The discussion was in relation to the latest progress report to check how the department had dealt with the challenges posed by the pandemic including the increase in demand.

Cllr Jeff Morgan (Con, Bulkington and Whitestone), the portfolio holder for children, families and education, said: “I think we are doing a pretty good job in a difficult situation.”

And he raised the question of finance and whether the council was left out-of-pocket when it accepted unaccompanied asylum seeking children from the south coast.

Mr Coleman added: “We get funding from the government. When the number gets to 0.7 per cent of their children in care, that triggers additional funding from the government and Warwickshire is in that position.

“It is a live issue at the moment and the government has announced various additional pots of money over the last week or so, so financially it isn't a burden.”

He explained that a new process was in place to deal with the latest wave of young migrants with various West Midlands authorities taking it in turn to take those children.

He added: “Because we have taken so many children, we are not part of that scheme at the moment - the idea is to get other local authorities in the West Midlands who haven't any, or very few, unaccompanied asylum seeking children to take a proportion and ease the pressure in Kent.”