West Sussex children looked after aged under 18

This measure looks at the number of children who are looked after within Children Social Care in West Sussex. This means that some children are in foster placements and a few children are placed in residential care homes.

In order to know how well we are doing we measure ourselves against authorities in relation to the number of children in care per 10,000 population of children.

We aim to be in the top quartile of all Local Authorities by 2022. The measure includes children in foster placements and residential care homes
Further information about child protection plans and child protection conferences can be found on the West Sussex Safeguarding Children Board website, which can be accessed by clicking on this link: SCP - Safeguarding Children Partnership

May 2020 performance

The number of children who are the subject to care proceedings is currently at its highest recorded level and this has correlated with an increased number of children coming into care as risk is being identified and addressed appropriately.
 The review and instigation of new processes to initiate legal proceedings via the ‘legal gateway’ is in progress to ensure we are collating the right evidence in a timely way to safeguard children and avoiding delay.
For 2020-21 we aim to achieve a milestone target of 40.5
In comparison South East average is 53 and England average is 65.   
The impact of Covid 19 has led to an increase in the number of children subject of care proceedings. This may potentially continue whilst lockdown measures are in place given the national picture of increased levels of domestic violence and the removal of community safeguards and support

Actions

A new Access to Resources panel is currently being trialled to ensure the right children are entering care and that appropriate parallel planning is under way where children can return home.
Partnership work is being commenced with Hampshire to improve our approach to permanence planning to facilitate children being placed with permanent carers more quickly, included where the care plan is adoption and special guardianship. This will reduce the time children spend in the care of the local authority. Permanence panels are being established to track permanence planning and the timeliness of achieving permanence. The panels will commence in March 2020.
As identified in the Children First Practice Improvement Plan improvements are required in assessment and care planning to ensure children receive appropriate help and support. Actions include:-
  • Embed Signs of Safety to ensure a consistent practice model for all practitioners. Training of staff has commenced.  
  • Quality Assurance Framework updated with a collaborative approach to case file auditing to promote a learning culture to improve the quality of social work practice.