Rising toll of tragic kids - 350 now in care in Calderdale

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Last summer, Calderdale Council was looking after 289 children due to family break-ups, court orders and other reasons.

Last summer, Calderdale Council was looking after 289 children due to family break-ups, court orders and other reasons.

A year on, the number has risen to 350, according to a report to councillors.

The increase has added £1.5 million to the social care bill, bringing it to £31.3 million.

And children’s services director Janet Donaldson warned: “This increase cannot be managed within existing resources.”

“In-house provision is full to capacity so additional children have had to be placed in more expensive external accommodation.

“Plans are underway to recruit more foster carers to help address the trend which is likely to continue in the short to medium term,” said Mrs Donaldson.

Other than placement costs, the pressure on children’s social workers and the need to employ more agency staff are adding to the costs involved.

Another budget pressure is increased court costs, which are under review.

Work done in the last two years shows Calderdale Council spends less per child than many other local authorities on almost all placement types.

“Benchmarking continues to provide a better understanding of how Calderdale compares on non-placement costs.”

A campaign is being designed to recruit more foster carers for younger children

*Changes to some school start and finish times and the loss of sixth form grants for students has led to the need for extra bus services in Calderdale and added to council costs which already top £2.6 million.