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‘As a council we have got work to do’: councillor criticises children’s services for failing to support struggling families

  • Children’s scrutiny panel reflects on progress of care scheme Route29 18 months after its launch
  • More than 150 cases have been resolved through service so far
  • But councillors regard system a 'failure' with families receiving help too late

A Salford councillor says he is "very concerned” by the number of families requiring foster care placements.

Councillor Lewis Nelson told a children’s scrutiny panel that many families were at breaking point and needed more help from the council.

The comments after head of services Sayma Khan told councillors about progress made in the 18 months since the launch of care scheme, Route29.

Route29 acts as an integrated housing service helping people aged between 12 to17 on  the edge of care.

Khan told the panel more than 150 cases have been resolved through the service since February 2020.

Councillor Nelson, however, raised concern about report, stating: “It’s very concerning to be honest that we’re talking about having to plan how we can try and support young people and families at the point when they’re already at breakdown.”

He regarded the system as a “failure of services” with families receiving support far too late.

“We don't want to create a system where families need an intervention to actually get the help required," he said.

“We don't want them being at Route29. We want them to be secure with their family unit and supported before that point. We’re committed as a council we have got work to do.”

Khan defended the service, which appoints nurses and both clinical and educational psychologists in house, stating: “The whole principles behind it was to not make people go to two services, we’ll come to you.”

She insisted it was an improvement traditional care services where people visit their GP directly.

“It sets them up to fail. We need to flip that on its head where the services go out into the family homes,” she said.

Counsellor Lewis Eric Nelson for Cadishead and Lower Irlam
Councillor Lewis Eric Nelson regards the care system as a 'failure of services' 

Assistant director for children’s social care, Zoe Fearon, said that over the next 12 months they would develop additional services for children who have experienced significant trauma.

She asked the panel to consider the impact that the national lockdown has had upon Route29’s capacity and level of resources.

“It’s been really difficult to respond quickly and effectively because we can’t plan. In the next 12 months we aim to look at demand management and respond accordingly,” she said.

Councillor Nelson told Northern Quota the best way for the system to improve would be to listen to the experiences of those who it has served.

“What’s quite upsetting really is for a lot of services in the city there is such enormous waiting lists. I don’t think there is a perfect system,” he said.

“It’s not a unique story to Salford, it’s happening everywhere.”

Many services have waiting lists of at least 12 months before people can receive the help that they need which he highlighted: “For some of those services is a short wait.

“Families get to a point of crisis when they maybe could have had some proper support earlier on, that would have prevented them from getting there.”

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