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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Cumbria council plans to overhaul children in care system

Cumbria County Council is to overhaul its system for looking after children in care.

It comes after figures show that an unexpected increase in the number of ‘looked after’ children in Cumbria led to a £6.6m overspend in the authority’s children’s social care budget in 2013/14.

The council must looks lower the number of children in care and the money its spends on them.

Campaigns to recruit more foster carers and families willing to adopt children have been successful, but more must now be done to tackle the increase in demand on the authority’s social care services.

That includes pressure on its social care services, the increased demand for adoptive placements –which result in children needing to be looked after by the council for longer – and the issue of older children entering the system unnecessarily and not leaving in a timely way.

The authority hopes a new focus on more targeted, early intervention work with families and young people will help prevent children entering care.

The council’s ruling cabinet has agreed to introduce its new ‘edge of care’ system in Carlisle before it is rolled out across the rest of the county.

It builds upon the success of Sedbergh Drive, a complex in Kendal, which offers a mix of residential placements and outreach support services.

After rejecting The Grange in Botcherby, the council is now looking to find a more suitable site while launching an outreach service in Carlisle to work with families.

Twelve full-time jobs will be created and the existing manager of Sedbergh Drive will be responsible for running the outreach service from as early as September.

Forecasts had predicted there would be 597 looked after children in the county by the end of March sparking a forecasted £5m overspend, but this number increased to 663 leading to a further £1.6m being spent.

The number of cases involving legal proceedings has also risen by 22 per cent in a year.

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