Cabinet approves report outlining future for children's services

By on 14/03/2011 in News

A report outlining how Birmingham City Council is changing the way children's services are provided has been approved by cabinet today, Monday 14 March.

The report sets out how the new system will improve outcomes for children and young people within the context of budget reductions.

Councillor Les Lawrence, cabinet member for children, young people and families, said: “The current arrangements need to be remodelled as they are not sufficiently focused on delivering our main priorities: protecting children from significant harm; improving learning and achievement in education; reducing health inequalities.

“All this is against a background of a huge financial challenge, with the council having to save £212million next year alone, rising to £308million by 2013/14. The children's directorate must save £68.3million by 2013/14.

“The remodelled service will therefore ensure better use of resources through closer working with other agencies and better specialist support for those children who need it. By working better together we can provide a much improved service rather than by working in isolation, and ensure that resources are targeted much more effectively.

“We need to focus even more on early intervention and integrated family support to prevent, where possible, children moving into the care system in the first place and seeking to make children safer”

Key features in brief:

• Establishment of integrated family support teams (IFST) - 16 multi-disciplinary teams to provide preventative services for children with additional needs
• Remodelling of children's centres and community day nurseries - the new service will bring together the 75 children's centres into 16 localities, removing a layer of management, with 13 day nursery staff working within this arrangement, ensuring family support services meet local need
• Remodelling of children's social care - improved focus on the most vulnerable children, including those with child protection plans, children in care and those with other complex needs. There will be more professional development opportunities for social workers and reduced management costs
• Integrated services for those with special educational needs and substantial disabilities (SEN&D) - a city-wide specialist service providing targeted early intervention
• Developing a social enterprise for trading with schools - this will be a co-operative for the provision of non-statutory schools services able to compete more effectively against private providers

The new structure recognises the need to strengthen front-line social care teams and will therefore have fewer layers of management, and fewer but larger teams with more social workers.

The Brighter Futures pilot programme, which deals with early intervention, will be mainstreamed, with targeted support being made available to help families across the city.
Notes to editors:

Facts and figures - some context for the city's children's services.

Birmingham has responsibility for 280,000 children, 253,000 of whom are aged 0-17 years.

It is estimated that as at January 2011, around 8700 children and young people  will be considered as 'in need' (as defined by the Children Act and based on national averages).

During the fist six months of 2010, 1,393 child protection investigations were carried out.

In December 2010 there were 1,408 children subject to child protection plans.

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