Recruitment of staff to begin for Children's Placement services
23rd January 2019
RECRUITMENT is to commence for a new hub in Highland to avoid children going to placements out with the Highland area.
The first hub for a new model of temporary residential provision and multi-agency assessment is in Fodderty in East Ross.
The unit has a Service Manager, and the employment of residential/outreach staff will now commence.
The 15 jobs have been on hold, as part of the Council controls on all vacancies, in order to manage the Council's in-year budget overspend. Approval has now been given for these jobs to be advertised as a priority, as they are fundamental to enabling the council to reduce expensive and distant Out of Area placements.
The development of "Arach" (meaning nurture in Gaelic), a temporary residential and outreach service, will be the vital component of the programme for reducing the numbers of children coming into residential care. A prospective foster carer is being assessed to work from the hub and it is hoped they will be available from next month. It is planned to hold an open day and information evening to meet interested prospective employees.
Since last summer, 11 young people have been enabled to return to Highland and there are plans for at least 8 others to move in the first half of 2019. Whilst this has avoided significant out of area costs for these 11 cases, 9 new children have come into spot purchased placements during the same timeframe. In April 2018, there were 48 spot purchased placements and at Dec 20th there are 46. The complex nature of adverse childhood experiences that our young people have endured, means that careful planning and transition from one placement to another is necessary.
There is the continued risk (seen across the UK) that the number of children requiring to be looked after continues to increase which has significant cost implications. Spot purchased placements have an average cost of £230,000 per child per year for Highland Council.
A report summarising the progress against the agreed plan for the Placement Services Change Programme, which is designed to redirect resources to develop services locally in Highland for Looked After Children and to address their education outcomes, will be considered by Members at the Care and Learning and Housing Committee.
The Placement Programme already has properties being built for looked after children moving out of residential care and this will be increased into the future to accommodate Care Experienced Young People moving into their own tenancies.
Vice Chair of the Care Learning and Housing Committee, Cllr Linda Munro said: "The decision to release these posts will enable the new unit in East Ross to open very soon. Investing in residential/outreach jobs locally will benefit our looked after children and young people in many ways, and minimise the amount of disruption in their lives as much as possible. The spending on these posts will also enable significant savings to be made in costly out of area placements, which are often not the best option for our children as they are placed so far from their home, school and friends, often for years at a time."
The vacancy control measures remain in place and every vacancy continues to be considered on a case by case basis to ensure the in-year overspend is managed as a range of measures designed to endeavour to balance the Council's budget by year-end.
Highland Council's Environmental Health team have identified raised levels of naturally occurring algal toxins following routine monitoring in coastal waters at Loch Glencoul, Kylesku area. Eating shellfish such as cockles, mussels, oysters or razor fish from these areas may pose a health risk arising from the consumption of these algal toxins.
Highland Council's Environmental Health team has identified raised levels of naturally occurring algal toxins following routine monitoring in coastal waters at Loch Eishort. Eating shellfish such as mussels, cockles, oysters or razor fish from these areas may pose a health risk arising from the consumption of these algal toxins.
Funding for food and activities during the summer break. More children and young people will benefit from a nutritious meal and a place to play this summer holiday.
At a meeting of The Highland Council on Thursday 27 June 2019, Councillors decided to discontinue the provision of education at Altnaharra Primary School, dividing its catchment area between Tongue Primary, Farr Primary and Lairg Primary schools. A copy of the consultation report, together with the original proposal paper and all relevant appendices can be viewed on the Council's website at: www.highland.gov.uk/schoolconsultations The Council is satisfied that implementation of closure is the most appropriate response to the reasons for formulating the original proposal identified by the authority.
"Highland Council as agreed to allow a question time for members of the public at future Council meetings. The motion was presented by Depute Leader Cllr Alasdair Christie and means that from December 2019, Highland Council meetings will include a time allocation for questions from members of the public.
Highland Councillors have unanimously agreed that the Council will support the continuation of the exemption from UK Air Passenger Duty for flights departing from airports in the Highlands & Islands; and Members also agreed that the Council will continue working with HiTRANS to present the case of the need for, and benefit arising from an exemption from the current UK Air Passenger Duty and any successor duty. The Council's stance comes this week as calls have been made by Aberdeen Airport for greater parity with Highlands & Islands.
Suicide prevention is a key priority for The Highland Council. Members have agreed today, to take forward a piece of research with partners including NHS Highland and Police Scotland, to better understand the current evidence base and experience of suicide in Highland.
The introduction of a service to support the mental health and wellbeing of Highland Council staff and councillors has been approved by the Council as part of a range of measures to improve wellbeing. An Employee Assistance Programme for staff and Members will be put in place to offer telephone and internet-based counselling 24 hours a day.
Councillor Mackie had a written question at today's meeting of Highland council. Item 12 - Question Time To the Chair of the Environment, Development & Infrastructure Committee "Official Highland Council guidance indicates that, unless extended, successful Community Asset Transfer requests should be completed by the Local Authority within a nine months' timeframe.
From highland council Meting today 27 June 2019. Item 12 - Question Time To the Chair of the Corporate Resources Committee "What are the current best estimates for present total Highland Council debt and the annual financial commitment required to service this debt?".
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