Calls for support over ‘substantial increase’ in children going into care in Hartlepool

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Councillors have called for support to help combat the ‘substantial increase’ in looked after children in Hartlepool.

Care bosses cited issues such as domestic abuse, mental health issues and substance misuse which can impact families and lead to children going into care.

It came as Hartlepool Borough Council health and wellbeing board received the annual report of the local safeguarding children board for 2017/18 looking at young people in the area.

The report said the number of care proceedings issued in the borough increased from 62 in 2016/17 to 98 in 2017/18.

The number of looked after children in the borough also increased to 278 as of March 2018, compared to 258 the previous year.

Coun Brenda Harrison, chair of the council children’s services committee, said it was a ‘big worry’ to see the increasing number of children needing extra care in the town.

She added it was important everyone worked together to provide them the best service possible.

Coun Harrison said: “With looked after children the fact there is getting more and more of them is a big worry.

“It does stretch other services and the people who work in the looked after children area to the limit but they’re still managing to do a very good job.

“We are all wanting to join up and have that kind of approach to everything.

“It’s not just children’s and adults [services] it’s the whole gamut of the council.

“Because of things that are happening to the adults and families in the town we’re obviously getting a knock on effect with the children and what’s happening there.

“So we do need to have a joined up approach and I would welcome anything that improves what is already there.”

Dave Pickard, independent chair of the Hartlepool Safeguarding Children’s Board, said there was a number of issues facing children needing care but said agencies in the area are in a ‘good place’ to tackle the challenges.

He said: “The first issue issue is the substantial increase in the number of children entering the looked after system.

“This has been scrutinised by the board and fundamentally the agencies are acting professionally and the agencies are working very well.

“Linked to that is the impact of domestic abuse, mental health and substance misuse, they are all significant factors for a child being taken into care.

“The board has worked very hard to assure the agencies are addressing issues as effectively as possible.

“Mental health has been a significant challenge and we have commissioned some workshops with practitioners to try and understand what the barriers are.

“To summarise there are substantial challenges ahead but I think we are in a good place.”

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service