Children deserve the ‘Right Placement First Time’, says new strategy
Gloucestershire County Council’s cabinet will consider a new strategy aimed at improving the experience of children in care by making sure they get the right support first time, every time.
At its next meeting on Wednesday 30 January, council’s cabinet will review the proposed new Sufficiency Strategy called Right Placement First Time, which outlines how the county council will support children in care and leaving care to secure a stable family environment and, where possible, reunite more children with their own families.
It proposes how children’s services will be redesigned, both the services provided by the council and those delivered by external providers, to meet the current and future needs of children, young people, and their families.
The strategy outlines how the county council will invest in children’s services and improve professional practice. It aims to reduce the number of children coming into care and the number of emergency placements needed by improving the resources available in communities and increasing the early help available to families.
Among the many ambitions outlined in the strategy is the need to increase the stability of placements and keep children close to their family and communities. It aims to increase fostering placements with Gloucestershire County Council from 68 per cent to 80 per cent by growing the number of foster carers in the county and building the skills required for children with specific needs. It plans to reduce the reliance on Independent Fostering Agencies long term, which often place children with families who live outside of the county.
Improving the quality of placements and the pathway through care will also better prepare young adults for independence. Part of the new strategy looks at different options to achieve this, including putting more supported accommodation options in place, and having young adults continue to work with the same people who have been involved in their care after their 18th birthday to smooth their transition into adult life.
Cllr Richard Boyles, cabinet member for children and young people said: “To develop the strategy, the county council asked 48 Gloucestershire children and young people in care and care leavers to share and record their experiences. The results of this consultation gave a clear insight into the challenges they face and made sure that their needs were at the heart of the decision making process.
“Gloucestershire County Council is committed to working with our partners in the county to make sure all children and young people feel safe, supported, and prepared for independence.”
The strategy covers the next three years but will be refreshed annually. If approved by cabinet, the three-year action plan will begin immediately.