By Local Democracy Reporter
AN annual report on Thurrock’s Children’s Services claims that early intervention with families has helped to slash the number the number of children in danger.
The report from the Thurrock Local Safeguarding Children Board, claims that the number of children placed on a protection plan has “decreased significantly” from the previous year, from 275 to 239.
The figures are positive news for the service which has been embroiled in controversy after two whistleblowers alleged a string of management failings contributed to the death of a child in January. An independent investigation later cleared the council of wrongdoing, but a serious case review has been launched.
The report credits the improvement to the adoption of a working model known as Signs of Safety, which encourages social workers to collaborate and work with parents and children in situations of suspected abuse.
The report states: “Thurrock has reduced from being significantly higher than statistical neighbours to now being in-line with statistical neighbours. This is as a result of the introduction of Signs of Safety as a social work model of intervention with families, which encourages strength-based practice with families.”
The reduction in child protection plans has resulted in a subsequent increase in child in need plans, which are put in place when children are not regarded as being in danger. These cases have increased from 618 to 683.
Discussion on the outcomes of the report will be discussed in more detail at the council’s Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee on December 4.
The committee will also discuss a council report on the performance of the service which outlines how the percentage of children on a child protection plan for a second time has also been reduced from 18 percent to 16.5 percent.
One area or significantly poor performance for the council is in adoptions, where the percentage of children adopted last year after being placed in the authority’s care is just three percent, the equivalent of seven children. This represents a fall from five percent the year before and is significantly lower than the rest of the East of England, where in 2016 there was an average of 17 percent.