The Deputy Mayor and Executive Member for Children’s Services presented a report for Executive’s consideration.
A primary aim of Middlesbrough Council’s Sufficiency Strategy was to have a well developed and targeted range of community support arrangements and high-quality placements within and around the Tees Valley area to care for our children and young people.
There were insufficient numbers of foster placements available either internally or externally to meet the Council’s needs and overall, its ambition was to grow its in-house fostering service; in line with its sufficiency ambition to have more children and young people placed in foster care and with a Middlesbrough Council foster carer. At present carers were leaving to move to IFA’s and therefore this investment was required to stop this happening.
The Council does nothing and remained with the current level of allowances then potentially more carers would move to an IFA increasing costs and reducing internal capacity further.
A public-private partnership or Tees Valley Fostering service would take considerable resource and time to drive forward and it made more sense for the Council to grow its own service initially before considering either of these options more seriously given the continued move of carers to IFAs and use of external residential placements.
1. Note the information contained within Part A of the report; and
2. Take the decision once all the financial or exempt information contained within Part B of the report had been considered.
The Council was under significant budget pressure, particularly in children’s services. One of the contributing factors was the high cost of external placements, including IFA and residential placements. The basis of this investment was to avoid more in-house carers requesting to move to an IFA which was significantly more expensive meaning further budgetary pressures for the Council.
If this investment was not supported then there was a potential for more carers to move to IFA’s which not only meant a loss of capacity but also a considerable increase in expenditure.
If the investment was approved then there was an expectation that this will see an increase in recruitment of in-house carers and whilst more funding would be needed to support this it was anticipated being able to reduce reliance on the IFA market and transfer underspend from that budget to in-house fostering to cover this.