- The rate of referral to Children’s Social Care (per 10,000 population) has increased significantly over the last 4 years
- The rate of children in need (per 10,000 population) decreased in 2020
- In 2020, there was almost an equal percentage of girls and boys assessed as children in need and the vast majority were white British
- The most common reason by far for children to be assessed a child in need in 2020 was abuse or neglect
- Although there was an improvement attainment for children in need in 2018 this decreased in 2019 (latest published data) this remains below that of the same cohort of children at both key stage 2 and key stage 4 in other similar local authority areas.
The term “Child in Need” (CIN) is defined in national guidance as “a child who is unlikely to achieve or maintain a reasonable level of health or development, or whose health and development is likely to be significantly or further impaired, without the provision of services, or a child who is disabled” (section 17, Children Act 1989).
The following summary of data relating to children in need in Wakefield provides population level information about the cohort and how this compares with rates in England along with the group of Local Authorities in England who are deemed to be similar to Wakefield in terms of aspects of the population, known as statistical neighbours. The data is published annually by the Department of Education (DfE) based on the financial year to 31st March and is collected through the CIN Census which is submitted by all Local Authorities in England. Where it has been found that data for children in need in Wakefield varies significantly from statistical neighbours or where there is an increasing or decreasing trend over time, then some recommendations are made and commentary is provided on how this is being addressed.
1. The Population
Every day members of the public along with services such as Police, Health, Schools, voluntary organisations and many others report concerns about the welfare and/or safety of children and young people living in the area to Wakefield Council’s Children’s Social Care Service. The central point for receiving concerns is the Integrated Front Door (IFD) and when a concern is received, this is recorded as a contact. In 2019/20 the Wakefield IFD received 15,715 contacts, which was an 18% reduction compared with 2018/19 when 19,161 concerns were received. The nature of the concerns is reviewed by the IFD to determine whether there is potential harm or risk for a child and when these are significant, this is passed as a referral to Children’s Social Care (statutory service) who then undertake an assessment of the situation for the child, young person and their family. If it decided that an assessment is not required, a referral might be made to the Children First Hubs (non statutory service) for Early Help support or the child, young person or family may be signposted to other services and sources of support within the Wakefield District such as Health Services or community based support groups. Information and advice may also be given to the person or service contacting the IFD on any steps they can take to support the child or family.
When an assessment has been completed by Children’s Social Care a decision will be reached on whether there is a level of vulnerability for a child or young person or where there is potential harm or risk for a child which requires intervention by statutory Social Care services. If intervention is agreed then a child may be supported as a Child in Need (CIN) and a CIN plan would be developed by the allocated Social Worker. Children who have a level of need may also receive from other services such as Health Services (eg Health Visitors or Speech Therapists) School or Nursery staff or voluntary sector organisations in addition to Social Care. Where significant harm or risk has been identified, a child may become subject to a Child Protection plan which means a higher level of intervention and some may at be at such serious or immediate risk that they require to be cared for by the Local Authority. For more information on children with a Child Protection plan and Children in Care, please see the Child Protection and Children in Care pages on this website.
It is known that for children who are abused physically, emotionally, sexually or suffer neglect or harm there can be immediate and long term effects for children and young people including:
- Increased risk of mental health issues
- Difficulties forming and maintaining relationships
- Lower attainment rate than that of peers
- Increased likelihood of anti social behaviour and offending
- Difficulties sustaining employment
- Challenges in developing attitudes and skills necessary for effective parenting.
There are likely to be a range of issues which result in a child or young person being identified as a child in need such as parenting issues, domestic abuse, sexual abuse and exploitation, mental health issues, substance misuse or disability. These are known collectively as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and there is growing research which evidences the negative consequences and impact of a cluster of ACEs on life chances as the child reaches adolescence and then adulthood. To prevent and minimise the impact for children and young people support is provided by Children’s Social Care to reduce risks and promote improvement in a child’s health, development and wellbeing and ensure they can flourish and achieve their potential.
Referrals to Children’s Social care have increased significantly over the last 3 years. In 2020, there was a rate (per 10,000 population) of 1017.1 which increased from a rate of 820 in 2019. The 2020 rate was much higher than the statistical neighbour rate of 695.15 and national rate of 534.80. This shows that of the concerns received regarding children and young people in Wakefield, more were deemed to need statutory intervention than in similar local authorities in England. In both years, the highest number of referrals the received were from Police. The table below shows the rate of referrals over the last 4 years.
Table 1 – Rate of Referrals to Children’s Social Care (per 10,000 population)
The DFE definition of CIN includes all children and young people receiving a statutory service for Children’s Social Care and so published CIN numbers include those on a CIN plan, those on a Child Protection plan, those in care and also those who have left care and are still eligible for support. In 2020, there was a decrease in the rate of CIN (per 10k pop) from 439.7 in 2019 to 410 in 2020. The rate has been decreasing since 2018 and the 2020 rate was lower than the statistical neighbour rate of 456.66 and the national rate of 323.70. This shows fewer children were receiving support as children in need in Wakefield than in similar local authorities who have similar populations and levels of deprivation. Although there was a decrease in the overall CIN rate, there was a significant increase in the number of children with a Child Protection plan between 2017 and 2019, please see the Child Protection page on this website for more information.
Table 2 – Rate of Children in Need (per 10,000 population)
Figure 1 – Rate of Children in Need (per 10,000 population)
The charts below provide further detail on children in need in Wakefield. For each chart, the data is provided for 3 financial years and a different year can be selected through clicking on the radio button at the right hand side.
The chart below provides a breakdown of age and gender for all children in need and this can be broken down into 2 age categories. There was little difference between the percentage of girls and boys assessed as CiN in 2020, with 49% being boys and 48% girls. The most common ethnicity by far was white British.
Figure 2 – CiN – By Age and Gender
Figure 3 – CiN – Ethnicity
Figure 4 – CiN – Category of Need
The chart below shows the number of children in need living in each of the Wakefield cluster area, electoral ward or school pyramid and the data is also available for deprivation decile (which can be selected using the radio buttons).
Figure 5 – CiN – Location in Wakefield
It is important that when additional support is required that children receive this at the earliest possible stage to prevent issues escalating to a significant level and to minimise the longer term impact on children. Children can be supported through a range of services such as Schools, Health Services and Voluntary Sector Services. An example might be a child accessing some group work support at school or a parent attending a parenting programme in the community. In Wakefield, early intervention support is provided by the Children First Hubs, please see the Early Help pages on this website for information and data on children and families accessing the service. To further improve the early intervention approach, in 2020, the Wakefield the Wakefield Families Together programme was launched with services including Children’s Social Care Teams and Children First Hub Teams and partner organisations such as Health and Police co-locating within multi agency teams in a cluster model based around schools so they are closer to where children and families live. Where schools have concerns about a child and feel they may need additional support, Team Around the School meetings enable multi agency discussions to agree who is best placed to provide this support. The aim is that this will maximise early intervention and reduce over time the level of need for statutory intervention.
In situations when it is agreed that a CIN plan is required for a child or young person, this will take some time for effective change to be achieved. In 2020 the highest proportion (30%) of children and young people had been on a CIN plan for less than 3 months, a relatively short period of time. This was higher than for statistical neighbours and nationally however the percentage with a plan between 3-6 months and 6 months – 1 year was more consistent with statistical neighbours and the English rate. In Wakefield in 20120, 28.5% of children had a CIN plan longer than 2 years, which was very similar to the rate for statistical neighbours. The table below shows the full breakdown.
Table 3 – Length of time for children with CIN plan in 2020
|Under 3 Months||30.00%||27.14%||25.60%|
|6 Months – 1 Year||14.00%||15.30%||14.20%|
|Over 2 Years||28.50%||28.89%||33.30%|
It is known that outcomes for children in need can be poorer than for those who do not require this level of support and some children in need may need extra support at school and may be assessed as having special educational needs support (SEN) or may require an Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP). Children with these additional needs may not achieve a similar level of attainment in school as their peers who do not require support. The table below shows the percentage of children in need who had SEN support in school over the last 3 years
Table 4 – % of School Age CIN with SEN Support
The percentage of school age children in need with SEN support has decreased since 2017 and in 2019 this was slightly lower in Wakefield than for statistical neighbours with 23.7% of CIN with SEN Support. Similarly the percentage of school age CIN with an EHCP has decreased in the period and in 2019 the rate at 17.10% was lower than for statistical neighbours (20.43%) and for England (21.6%), suggesting there is a lower level of additional need in Wakefield for this cohort compared with other similar areas. During the same period, the number of active EHCPs has continued to increase in Wakefield, this may indicate that the support children and young people are receiving through their EHCP means that they do not have a level of need which needs to be referred to Children’s Social Care.
Table 5 – % of School Age CIN with a SEN Statement/EHCP
Attainment levels of CIN can be lower than for pupils who do not need this level of support, the table below shows the latest available results at key stage 2.
Table 6 – % of Children in Need achieving expected standard Key Stage 2 in Reading, Writing & Maths
Based on latest available published data, attainment for children in need declined at Key Stage 2 in the areas of reading, writing and maths in 2019 compared with 2018 and the percentage of CIN achieving the expected standard was below the rates for statistical neighbours and the national rate in reading and maths although higher in writing. This is a potential area for exploration to consider why attainment has declined and why this is lower than that of statistical neighbours and to what support may be required to reach the attainment of statistical neighbours.
In terms of attainment at the secondary school level, average progress scores aim to capture the progress pupils make from the end of Primary School to the end of Secondary School. Pupils’ results are compared to the actual achievements of other pupils with similar prior attainment. A score of 0 means pupils on average do as well as those with similar prior attainment nationally. A positive score means pupils on average do better and a negative school means pupils on average do worse, although this does not mean that pupils did not make progress rather they made less progress than other pupils nationally.
Table 7 – Average Progress 8 Score at Key Stage 4 for Children in Need
The table above shows that in 2019 there was a decline in attainment for children in need compared with 2018 and the score was a higher negative one that that of statistical neighbours meaning Wakefield children in need did not do as well as those in other similar LAs at key stage 4. As the score is negative then the cohort did not do as well as their peers and this is an area for attention as with key stage 2.
As there has been no attainment data available in 2020 and there will be none available for 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic it may not be possible to evaluate the impact of the situation over the past 18 months on the learning of CiN. Although schools were closed during some of the year, CiN were still able to attend as normal although there may have been some missed sessions to self isolation requirements and the impact of this may not be known for some time.
Table 8 – % School age children in need who missed sessions through unauthorised absence – 3 terms
Minimising absence is important to ensure that children achieve their full potential at school. For children in need in Wakefield, the percentage of CIN who have missed sessions through unauthorised absence has remained fairly consistent over the last 3 years (based on latest available data). The rate in 2019 was slightly lower than that of statistical neighbours and slightly higher than the national rate.
3. Key Findings & Recommendations
Having considered the key messages from the data the following recommendations have been identified:
- It has been identified that in Wakefield there is a trend of increasing referrals to Children’s Social Care the volume is higher in comparison with statistical neighbours. The implementation of the Wakefield Families Together Programme is already improving joint working between partners. More opportunities for dialogue have been established through the roll out of the Team Around the Early Years and Team Around the Schools approach where multi agency discussions can take place on now best to support children before the statutory level. It is envisaged that with effective support at an early stage, there will be less requirement for referrals to Children’s Social Care. Preliminary data for 2021 estimates there will be a reduction in the rate of referrals and local data shows the volume of referrals has remained lower since the start of the 2021-22 financial year. Based on this, the recommendation is to continue to monitor referral levels and the further implementation of Wakefield Families Together programme
- The data shows in Wakefield children in need may do less well at school in comparison with statistical neighbours both at key stage 2 and key stage 4. There has also been a decrease in attainment between 2018 and 2019. The recommendation is to explore reasons for lower rates of attainment for children in need and to work with the Education & Inclusion Service and Schools to consider how the cohort of children can be further supported.
4. How are children in need supported?
Continuum of Need
In Wakefield, services for children, young people and their families are described within the Continuum of Need. This has been developed through the Wakefield Safeguarding Children Partnership working with other agencies such as Health, Police and voluntary organisations and is consistent with Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018). It describes the level of support available for children and young people depending on their level of need from services which are available universally and for all such as dentists, GPs and schools through to services for children and young people with significant and complex needs. The aim is that children and young people will receive support at the earliest possible stage when required to prevent issues from becoming more serious. Support may be provided through a range of services such as Health Visitors, Community Based Groups, in Children Centres and through the Early Help Service in the Children First Hubs. When the issues being experienced by a child or young person are more complex and there are risks and harm which requires statutory intervention then a referral may be made to Children’s Social Care which is assessed by the IFD.
Integrated Front Door
The IFD which is often also known as the “Front Door” receives all concerns about children and young people either from members of the public or from other services such as Police, Schools, Health and voluntary sector services. In many cases, concerns are made by phone but they can also be made by email or a referral form can be submitted. The IFD Team is made up of Social Workers who review the information they receive and screen this along with information they may already know about children, young people and their families, if anything. Some Police, Health and Education staff are also based within the IFD Team and where appropriate Social Workers may ask if any information is held by these partners about children and young people which informs the decision making process. Concerns relating to domestic abuse are considered separately, medium risk are triaged by Police and Social Care and high risk cases are considered at the Domestic Risk Assessment Meeting. All concerns need to be triaged within one working day from receiving the concern. Where there are significant concerns, a referral is made to the Children’s Social Care Teams to undertake an assessment of the child’s situation. Where it is deemed there is not significant risk then a referral may be made to a non statutory service such as Early Help or other universal service eg Health Visiting. Feedback is provided to the person who raised the concern about the outcome and Social Workers also regularly provide advice to individuals and professionals on particular situations involving children and young people where a referral to Children’s Social Care is not appropriate. Where there is significant risk, the IFD Team will also undertake the Child Protection function, calling partners to a multi agency meeting called a Strategy Discussion to consider if immediate action is required to reduce the immediate risk for a child.
Children’s Social Care
For children and young people who have been assessed as having significant needs eg suffering significant neglect, suffering sexual abuse, being impacted by parental issues etc they will receive support at level 4 of the continuum of need and will receive support from a Social Worker. In some situations a child or young person may have received support at an earlier stage eg level 2 or 3 but this may not have been successful in resolving issues or reducing risks.
Support for children and young people in need is provided through Social Work teams, although it is likely that children and young people will receive other types of support eg attending a group work programme through the Children First Hubs, accessing emotional health support or having respite care. Some of this support may be delivered by partner agencies such as Health and Schools. For children in need, a care plan will be developed by Children’s Social Care which will detail what interventions are required to improve outcomes for children and this will be maintained and reviewed during the period the child or young person is receiving support. The child or young person will be visited on a frequent basis (as a minimum every 6 weeks) who will work with the child and their family to make positive changes to address issues and reduce risks of harm. Within the Children’s Social Care Service there is also a specific Children Vulnerable to Exploitation Team which works to reduce risks for children who go missing as well as those at risk of exploitation such as sexual exploitation and criminal exploitation. Whilst the child or young person continues on a CIN plan, there will be a multi agency meeting held every 6 weeks to consider what progress is being made and if where appropriate whether other actions need to be taken. If there is not enough change over a period of time or the risk for the child or young person increases then child protection processes will be implemented. When it is decided there has been significant change and that this can be sustained, then the plan will be ended although it is likely the child or young person and their family will be referred non statutory services to help them maintain the positive changes.
Wakefield Families Together
Wakefield Families Together is an approach which was launched in 2020 to establish community based teams drawn from professionals from different agencies, ie Children First Hubs, Children’s Social Care, Health, Police and the third sector and community services to ensure children, young people and families are supported at the earliest possible stage. The teams are co-located to work alongside each other across the 6 cluster areas in Wakefield. The work is focused community need. Schools are central as part of the local community helping to drive and support families. Schools have linked workers and regular meetings to offer consultations where it is felt families may require additional support. The aim is work collaboratively and to ensure resources are in place to meet need at the earliest stage. More information is found here.