Tackling inequalities: Council outlines key goals for helping Calderdale children and families

Recruiting more foster carers, buying a new children’s home and working ever closer with families to give young people the best start in life are a children’s service’s aims for the year ahead.

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 7:53 am
Updated Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 8:13 am

Scrutiny board councillors and lay members heard Calderdale Council officers say plans were in place to achieve these goals.

Tackling inequalities are a key part of measures planned, and, with a cost of living crisis gathering, that will be crucial, Children and Young Peoiple’s Services Scrutiny Board members said, with some suggesting food provision options to help those who needed it should be considered.

They welcomed the strategy and there needed to be some way to measure its impact, they agreed.

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Partnerships and improved support for children and families in Calderdale are the aims.

Board Chair Coun Ashley Evans (Lib Dem, Warley) said members had to recognise there were a wide range of issues to be dealt with and they should focus on a number of them and prioritise.

Members had heard service goals included enhanced training for early health practitioners, including working on families’ strengths, recruiting more foster carers for Calderdale children and investing in more residential care by buying a second house – offering places to children which are better quality, closer to home and more economic – and increasing the number of apprenticeships available for care leavers, both at the council and in businesses, are key aims.

Other targets include working with early years settings and schools to improve the percentage which are rated “good” or “outstanding” by Ofsted, improving the percentage of children who are ready to start school through parenting support and using the council’s 50 things to do before you are five as a guide and developing special needs provision, including alternative provision.

The Education Welfare Service will support schools to improve attendance and reduce the exclusion of children, board members heard.

Calderdale councillor Ashley Evans, chairman of the council's Children and Young People’s Services Scrutiny Board

Officers reported the council will support planning for increased school places which might be needed if Calderdale’s Local Plan is green-lighted, including a new free school Trinity Multi Academy Trust hopes to create in south Calderdale.

The trust already runs schools in Calderdale – the placing would address some of the issues developing a large number of homes in south east Calderdale might generate, says the council.

In terms of Public Health aspects, partnership, a focus on being well and preventing people becoming ill, tackling root causes of ill health and utilising communities to play their part in improving health and wellbeing for Calderdale citizens of all ages, are among the aims.

For children and young people, that includes starting well, in that all children are ready for school when they reach that age, and developing well, in that every child at 15 has hopes and aspirations.

Starting well priorities include developing a strategy which understands and meets needs with the aim of reducing inequalities, developing a framework for early intervention, using family hubs, developing speech, language and communication skills and high quality delivery of mandatory functions.

Developing well goals include increasing health promotions at schools, including at key transition points of a child’s age, supporting school food, and targeting healthy living support to families and ensuring they can easily access health and wellbeing support from whoever is best placed to provide it.

A Healthy Early Years Award, for starting well, and enabling good practice to be shared and celebrated by setting up a Healthy Schools Award, for developing well, are to be organised, the board heard.