Doncaster children in care: Issues remain over re-referrals and high levels of demand

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Children's bosses in Doncaster are facing continued high demand with re-referrals within 12 months above national targets.

Bosses from Doncaster Council and Doncaster Children's Services Trust faced questions at a meeting from councillors on a scrutiny panel on Tuesday.

A report reviewing DCST's quarterly performance described staff being in 'high demand pressure' with 1,789 'contacts' with children. Around '75 per cent do not proceed to statutory intervention'.

Bosses added the 'ongoing problem' of 'inappropriate referrals and re-referrals from South Yorkshire Police is the 'biggest source of contacts' at around 40 per cent.

The current target is 22 per cent but DCST is operating at a figure closer to 26 per cent.

The rate and numbers of 'children in need' are also 'high and increasing'. At the 2017 out turn, Doncaster showed a 'high rate' of 404 compared with the national average of 330 and the regional average of 348.

The report said: "The latest figures show significant increases. Rising CIN figures inevitably reflect demand pressures in the system and the Trust attributes this this figure to the high rate of referrals, which are in the highest proportion nationally.

"The final quarter of 2017/18 reports relatively strong performance, with 16 out of 18 measures performance at or better than contract measures, and an additional two performing well. This is despite continued high levels of demand for services, albeit with a reduction in this period.

DCST chief executive Paul Moffat said: "Children are coming back into the system because they’ve not had an adequate or no response from single agencies or forms of early help.

"There is also an element where one of the agencies is continuing to refer cases into social care when they really shouldn’t be - that’s also a big factor.

"We also have a high level of contact at the front-door which is huge and a very small proportion of which get converted into referrals which means they are not appropriate and should’ve been dealt with as other forms intervention or didn’t meet the threshold.

"It’s a mixed pictured, on the whole it’s pretty good but there still remains that thorny issue of demand pressures and need in the community."