Hartlepool teams working to care for increasing number of looked-after children
Praise has been given to the fostering service in Hartlepool for continuing to provide care for an increasing number of children.
Councillors on Hartlepool Borough Council Children’s Services Committee heard how from October to December 2020 the number of children becoming looked after increased.
The overall number rose from 350 in September to 360 in December.
However Jane Wilson, fostering team manager for Hartlepool said despite this, and along with the difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, they have managed to keep many children within their families.
She said: “The number of children becoming looked after in the quarter has continued to increase.
“The impact of that is the work of the safeguarding teams and therefore of the fostering and resources end of children’s business is increasing as well.
“The result of the hard work of the safeguarding team is we have managed extraordinarily well to keep children, if not with their parents, within their family of origin.
“It means there is increased demand on the fostering service for us to do what’s called connected care or kinship care assessments, but the positive is that children are kept closed to home, so that’s a very good thing.”
She also noted they have managed to ensure in the past quarter children remain within the council fostering system, instead of going to the independent sector.
She added: “Another positive I would say from this difficult time that everyone is having in this quarter, we’ve managed to keep the use of the independent sector, so independent fostering agencies, at the same level.
“In fact at the end of this quarter we’d used one less than we had the previous quarter, which is remarkable really, the foster carers stepping up during this time to sometimes take additional children outside their terms of approval is credit to them as well.”
The number of foster carers in Hartlepool also increased by seven during the quarter, which was a boost, according to officers.
Work has been ongoing during this time to attract even more foster carers in Hartlepool, with posters being put in shops and shared on social media.
Ms Wilson added: “In terms of our carer recruitment, which is our key bread and butter, it’s about extending the pool of choice we have for our children, because one size doesn’t fit all, so we need people from all walks of life.
“We’re currently 155 foster carers, which for a little town is pretty good going, and for this quarter we’ve increased the fostering households by a further seven.”
By the end of the period in December 2020, the carers were looking after 264 children, which is 28 more children than the last quarter.
Councillors on the committee praised the work of the fostering service, with chair Cllr Leisa Smith stating they do ‘an absolutely fantastic service’.
Ms Wilson thanked the councillors, but added it is the whole service who deserve the credit.