Number of looked after children up by 500 in past four years, according to figures from Adoption Tees Valley
The number of looked after children in the Tees Valley has risen by more than 500 in the past four years.
Figures from the Adoption Tees Valley group showed the total number of youngsters aged 0 to 17 in council care had climbed to 1,872 as of April this year – up from 1,370 in 2015/16.
Children’s services are among the biggest bills councils foot.
Cllr Lisa Evans, Stockton Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said: “The number of children in our care continues to rise but we remain committed to making sure all services and partners work together to give every child the best possible life chances.”
Looked after children in the Tees Valley (source: Adoption Tees Valley)
2015/16 – 1,370
2016/17 – 1,585
2017/18 – 1,717
2018/19 – 1,872
The figures came from the Adoption Tees Valley agency which was launched last May.
It was the first regional group of its kind set up in the North East to bring five councils – Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton and Darlington – together into one adoption service.
Nationally, almost four in ten children up for adoption wait longer than 18 months for a home.
And demand pressures have been felt in the Tees Valley – with the average time between a child entering care in the Tees Valley and moving in with an adoptive family rising from 435 days, as of April 2018, to 446 days in April 2019.
However, this is still better than the national average of 486 days.
More statistics from the agency show adoptions in the region have climbed from 65 in 2015/16 to 82 in 2018/19.
Its latest report revealed a total of 53 children received adoption placement in first 11 months the scheme was running – and its paper showed the number of people adopting had “increased significantly”.
But the paper also showed that there was a “small number of children” who’d waited a significant amount of time for an adoptive family – and, as of April, there were also a number of “large sibling groups” awaiting placements.
The report added: “The workload and volume of adoption activity has increased significantly, creating some pressures on staffing and capacity to respond and deliver in a timely way.
“The service has taken on additional temporary staffing, and has focused on prioritising adoption placement for children waiting, over other areas of work, including allocation of step-parent adoptions, and allocation of adoption support.”
The population of 0 to 17-year-olds in the Tees Valley has increased from 144,531 in 2015/16 to 145,691 as of April this year.
The figures also show the number of children adopted has increased by more than a third since 2016/17.
Coun Evans was pleased with how the new regional model was working amid increasing demand.
She said: “Adoption Tees Valley has an integral role to play in this so I am delighted some of the new ways of working that have been introduced are already having a positive impact on the recruitment of potential adopters – and children are being matched with families at an earlier stage.
“Every child deserves to live in a safe, stable and secure home and I hope this will become a reality for many of the young people referred to Adoption Tees Valley.”