The rate of children in Leeds needing protection plans from the social services has halved in just five years, a meeting has heard.
A meeting of influential councillors in Leeds met to discuss a series of reports, which suggest the number of children needing child protection plans in the city has plummeted, and added childhood obesity, alcohol and drug use is also decreasing.
It follows Ofsted awarding Leeds City Council’s children’s services an “outstanding” rating last Autumn, the first award of its kind to a large local authority.
Statistics released in the council report claimed that the number of children with child protection plans in the city fell from just over 60 per 10,000 children in 2013, to slightly above 30 per 10,000 in 2018.
Director of children’s services Steve Walker told the meeting that, In 2011, Leeds had the second highest rate of looked after children in the country – the only one higher was Kent, whose own figures were swelled by high numbers of asylum-seekers.
He added: “We are never going to be able to keep every child in the city a safe as we would want to, but when we look at the indicators, you will see we have gradually reduced the number of children that need to be looked after.
“We give children a proper voice in the process, not just having them as passive recipients of the service. We want them to shape the way we provide services. It gives us a clear understanding about what the child wants and how they are interpreting the issues in their families.”
Comments were also made on improving health outcomes for children in the city.
Data showed that obesity rates among children in reception remained steadily below the national average over the past five years, with an average of 8.93 percent between 2011 and 2017, as opposed to the national average during that time of 9.38. It added more than half of secondary school pupils in the city report never having tried alcohol – up from just 30 per cent in 2012.
Director of public health Dr Ian Cameron added that getting children and families to quit smoking can help lift people out of poverty.
He said: “We are at the lowest smoking prevalence we have ever had.
“Every one per cent reduction in adults smoking in Leeds will mean those ex-smokers will have an extra £25m in their pockets every year. That is available for them to spend in different ways, so it is also a contribution to combat poverty.
“Public health across the country has been subject to cuts. By the end of this year, we will be around £7.5m down from where we would have expected.”