To receive a presentation from the Senior Manager Carlisle and Eden and MASH
The Senior Manager - Carlisle and Eden and SGHUB gave a presentation which provided an update to members on the Children and Young People Service in Eden. The presentation covered the following:
· The areas covered by the service
· The number of open cases in Eden
· Trends in Eden (referrals, open cases, child protection plans and Children Looked After)
· Reasons for contact – in Cumbria
· What could members help with
The Senior Manager - Carlisle and Eden and SGHUB concluded the presentation by congratulating staff on the work they had undertaken during the pandemic. She acknowledged how social workers and staff had worked hard to ensure that the service continued to provide support to children in Cumbria during the COVID 19 pandemic. Eden along with the rest of Cumbria was now experiencing a lack of placements for children, particularly teenagers which reflected the national picture. A number of Committee members thanked staff for their work during the pandemic.
In referring to Child Protection Plans, a member asked if children had had more contact with staff, the number of Plans would have increased. The Senior Manager - Carlisle and Eden and SGHUB explained that although COVID had impacted on staff including work related stress, visiting and contact with families had been maintained where there were safeguarding concerns. The number of contacts during lockdown did reduce so some children may not have come to the Team’s attention until after lockdown but the number of children on a child protection plan was still on a downward trend.
After being asked about family networks, the Senior Manager - Carlisle and Eden and SGHUB explained the practice methodology for putting these in place, how they were identified and the role of Social Workers and other professionals in the network.
The numbers of Children Looked After pre and post pandemic were reported. After being asked by a member if mental health was an issue in Eden, the Senior Manager - Carlisle and Eden and SGHUB talked about how mental health was a national crisis and there was a lack of mental health resource including beds nationwide.
A short discussion took place on the number of Children Looked After (CLA) in Eden and how early help was an important factor in preventing children becoming CLA. The Early Help agenda was explained to members.
In order to understand how members could help the Senior Manager - Carlisle and Eden and SGHUB, a member asked why the number of referrals was so volatile. The Senior Manager - Carlisle and Eden and SGHUB stated that this was not clear. She explained how schools were the main source of referrals and it was not fully understood as yet, if lockdown had impacted on the volatility of referrals. Research would need to be undertaken to ascertain if the volatility was historical. Members were informed that rurality had an impact on referrals and rurality was an issue in Eden. A member highlighted that national holidays could have an impact on numbers.
How the figures on the graph could be interpreted was discussed. It was suggested that only a small increase or decrease in the number of children involved with the service could impact on how the graph looked, either negatively or positively.
Discussion turned to the reasons for contact. A member asked about domestic and physical abuse and if it related to the periods of lockdown. The Senior Manager - Carlisle and Eden and SGHUB explained how the trend for domestic abuse was increasing nationally as families were in close proximity, poverty was increasing and children weren’t in school. The lockdown periods had magnified the problems already being encountered by families such as poor mental health and domestic and substance abuse.
A member asked how the Committee could help with family networks and asked how adequate they were. The Senior Manager - Carlisle and Eden and SGHUB explained how the networks were created, sustained and tested and how they were put into practice when a family issue became apparent. Members were given an explanation of contact dispute in families and it was noted that fewer people were seeking support from the Safeguarding Hub on this matter.
The Chair expressed the Committee’s appreciation of the fantastic work done by Cumbria Family Support in Eden. He welcomed that Huntley Avenue had recently opened and members of the Children and Young People’s Working Group would be making a visit.
RESOLVED, that the position be noted.