Ceredigion child safeguarding figures for the last three quarters were discussed by councillors this week with the latest figures relating to the first part of 2020.

With referrals about child safeguarding expected to increase across local authority areas as children return to school, members of Ceredigion’s overview and scrutiny coordinating committee received three reports.

At its meeting on Wednesday, September 16 the committee were updated by Sian Howys, corporate lead officer for children and families, on the number of children being assisted by the local authority and other agencies.

January to March is “busier historically” Mrs Howys said, usually due to the return to school following Christmas, with 106 referrals leading to child protection strategy discussions/meetings.

There were 11 initial child protection conferences, up from seven the previous quarter, and 23 names placed on the child protection register, up from 12. Six children were removed from the protection register, while in the previous three months 29 had been.

At the end of March 2020 there were 55 children on the child protection register.

Mrs Howys told the committee that an “area of weakness that needs to be addressed” was keeping to timescales of holding conferences, and although improvements had been made, it was also important to ensure the relevant people were available for a meeting.

“I can assure you the children are still safeguarded although those meetings are a bit outside timescales and the reviews are held within timescales in the majority of times,” she added.

Concerns were raised by committee chairman Cllr Elizabeth Evans about the amount of time children remain on the register, particularly when parents to not engage with the safeguarding service, and the threshold for removing children.

Mrs Howys said that legal advice would be sought about going to family court and there were times where reaching enforcement level was “symptomatic if a lack of cooperation” with the two years on the register for emotional abuse cited by Cllr Evans was “exceptional.”

It was linked to matters going through the courts, she added, with the child not taken off the protection list until they were resolved so they continued to benefit for the plan put in place for them.

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