Increase in demand for children's services in Doncaster during Covid-19 pandemic

Children’s services in Doncaster has seen an increase in referrals and the council has transferred over more money to cover additional costs.

Doncaster Children’s Services Trust has reported an increase in children it is looking after.

Cabinet members also approved a transfer of £2.56 million to DCST for the ‘non-Covid-19 element’ of their overspend with a reconciliation at year-end to ensure any surplus is returned to the council.

Bosses said demand has led to increased activity across all social care services with 942 assessments – a 29 per cent increase – comparing the same period last year.

Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones

The number of ‘children in need’ stands at 2,511 at a rate of 377 per 10,000. This has increased by 13 per cent children compared to the same period last year but a slight decrease on the previous quarter.

DCST bosses said social worker caseloads are monitored closely for ‘average/maximum values’ and the majority of workers were carrying ‘high caseloads’.

In response, the trust said it has created an additional assessment team and employed more agency social workers temporarily to bring this down.

The number of children subject to a child protection plan has increased month on month since February 2020 and 84 more children – a 27 per cent increase – compared to this time last year.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, trust bosses said they had set an expectation that children are seen whilst adhering to health and safety guidance to reduce the risk of infections to them and to families.

Mayor Ros Jones said: “The trust and council have taken action to reduce the pressure on the service. Despite Covid-19 and demand pressures, the trust’s performance remains strong across its contractual key performance indicators.

“The trust is working with the council on the future placement strategy which should impact on our out of authority numbers, and the numbers of local foster carers.

“The trust, with council support, has developed approaches to reduce agency costs, including a social worker academy, and the social worker attraction and retention strategy.

“The full impact of Covid-19 on society, children coming into care and financial burdens is still unknown.

“We will always look after our children and our families in the stressful period that many are actually going through now.”

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