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BLAENAU GWENT: Children in Care

BLAENAU GWENT: Children in Care

Cllr John Mason - Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

THE number of children in care in Blaenau Gwent has dropped by 50 in just over two years and is seen to be bucking the national trend.

Other local authorities are continuing to experience an increase in the number of children they take into care.

At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Executive team on Wednesday, September 22 councillors were given an update on the Safe Reduction of Children Looked After Strategy which runs to 2025.

This strategy looks to support families to stay together where it is safe to do so, provide support in the home and affordable high-quality placements when needed.

The council’s director of social services, Damien McCann told the councillors that the number of children in residential care came down from a “high of 18”  to 13 at the end of the last financial year.

This also means that the funding used on residential placements fell  by over £550,000 in 2020/21.

Mr McCann added that the figure was now 12.

Mr McCann added: “As of Monday our children looked after numbers stood at 189.

“This can fluctuate throughout the month, but the general trend is continuing downwards in the right direction.”

He added that in recent years there had been more children leaving care than entering it.

But there are still difficulties in recruiting qualified social workers, and Blaenau Gwent has a number of vacancies to fill.

Mr McCann explained that this problem was faced by all other authorities across Wales

Due to this he believed the progress being made to bring down the numbers is “remarkable.”

Executive member for Social Services Cllr John Mason said: “It’s a very positive report and I thank the staff for the excellent contribution they are making in reducing our looked after children in Blaenau Gwent.

“But the figures are more encouraging than my director referred to, at the moment it’s 187.

“I’d also like to point out that the CIW (Care Inspectorate Wales) acknowledged in their report that the reduction strategy is proving successful as well.”

Deputy leader, Cllr Dai Davies added: ” “We make sure that children are at the heart of what we do and the decisions we take and it’s a process that’s working for us and the families.”

The Executive unanimously agreed to accept the report.

Words: Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

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