Protection for young people

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SUPPORT given by social workers to children at risk of being taken into care is working well according to a new report.

Case loads of social workers employed by Hartlepool Borough Council have risen as demand for their services increases.

But a report presented yesterday to Councillor Cath Hill, portfolio holder for children’s services, says the plans in place to help vulnerable children are working well.

Between September and December last year 36 children at risk of neglect, abuse or serious harm were made the subject of protection plans.

There was a slight increase on the previous four months when 34 were made subject to the plans.

As a result, they were provided with intensive support, which prevented them being taken into council care.

John Mennear, the council’s assistant director of children’s services, said in a report: “None of the children who became subject to a child protection plan were looked after suggesting that the practice of the children’s circumstances being captured in one plan is working well.”

At the end of 2012, 118 Hartlepool children were subject to a protection plan with neglect being the most common reason, accounting for 93 cases.

Other reasons were because they were at risk of physical or emotional abuse.

By the end of December last year, 191 children were being looked after by the council with the vast majority (152) in foster care.

Mr Mennear added: “The Edge of Care Team continues to work with a small number of young people at risk of coming into care.

“The project manager has just completed a review of the service’s impact over the last six months and it evidences that the service works extremely well in diverting young people from coming into care.”

The department also noted a drop of 23.4 per cent of the number of youngsters being referred to social services more than once compared to September to December 2011.

The report stated: “The team manager in the initial response team has implemented a more robust quality assurance system and this seems to be paying dividends as a reduction in re-referal rates is an indicator that assessments and plans are more effective.”