Children and Young People’s Service 2023-24 budget proposals

This directorate is structured into three areas, with a significant majority of services that are statutory, meaning there is a legal duty to provide them, and they are highly regulated.

These services are:

  • Social Care – including all elements of social care services, front door through to permanence, fostering, adoption and care leavers, as well as Family Support, Quality Assurance and Safeguarding.
  • Early Help – including family support, early help and prevention services, Early Years, Youth work, Youth Justice, Commissioning and the Safeguarding Board Team.
  • Education and Skills – including a wide range of Special Educational Needs Services, Admissions team, Inclusion Support Services, the Education Strategic Planning and Intelligence Team, the Adult Learning and Skills Team and School Improvement Liverpool.

Financial pressures

Children services have seen significant pressures in recent years, in line with national trends, there have been specific increases in demand for early help and social care services.

In education, we have seen a rising demand for school places generally, and a specific increase in demand regarding support for children with SEND (special education needs and disability).

There is a transformation plan in place to reduce demand for social care services and to keep families together safely, the team is also progressing a review of special school places to ensure we can meet increased demand.

There are a range of risks and issues that need careful consideration, not least the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on early years, child development and mental wellbeing, as well as the cost of living crisis and its impact in terms of education, health and care demands.

Approach to savings and transformation

The children’s directorate is progressing a significant transformation programme across the Early Help and Social Care Services teams to support children and families.

This includes:

  • Implementation of the Family Safeguarding Model in social care, with DfE (Department for Education) grant (£1 million) and support from a nationally recognised sector-led improvement partner (Hertfordshire Family Safeguarding Unit).
  • Developing children’s centres into ‘Family Hubs’ as part of a national programme, supported by a grant of £4 million over three years.
  • Creating council-owned and operated residential children’s homes.
  • Investing in Edge of Care Services, specialist foster carer placements, the PAUSE programme and semi-independent accommodation services to support the reduction in numbers of looked-after children.
  • A significant recruitment and retention programme is in place for hard to fill roles, particularly qualified children’s social workers. This involves investment in a range of projects including, improved terms and conditions in specific teams, as well commissioning some international recruitment activity.

In addition to a significant increase in specialist provision for SEND services based in mainstream schools, we are implementing a review of Special School places in 2023 to create additional capacity to meet demand in our city, and in local authority as opposed to independent provision and out of area provision. This development sits alongside the 5 Year Education Improvement Plan (created in 2021).