Specialists dealing with 64 current Rotherham child sexual exploitation cases

Rotherham

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More than 60 children in Rotherham are involved in ongoing sexual exploitation cases, new figures have revealed.

Rotherham Council’s child sexual exploitation team had 64 open cases in September – up on the 53 it was dealing with in May.

Details have been revealed in a report going to Coun Christine Beaumont, cabinet member for children and education services, on Monday.

The report also showed that 156 children have been reported to have run away from home or care between July and September, with 240 incidents recorded.

The number of children running away has increased from the first quarter of the year, when 146 young people were reported to be involved in 314 incidents.

It comes as the council’s children and young people’s service announced it is now facing a £3.5 million overspend in its budget – largely due to extra costs in placing vulnerable children in care placements away from the town, often to safeguard them from abusers.

Last month, the overspend for the year was estimated to be £2.8m - but has now increased again.

The council is spending £2.5m more than planned on providing out of authority residential placements, with an additional £359,000 going on independent fostering placements.

There are currently 32 children from Rotherham in out-of-area placements, with 106 in independent foster care.

A report by finance manager Joanne Robertson said: “The recruitment of in-house foster and adoptive carers remains a challenge and we must always ensure a high quality of placements.

“Our decisions to place children with independent fostering agencies and in residential out of authority establishments will always be in the context of the best interests of our children.

“The budget can only be an estimate given its volatile nature. For example, one out-of-authority residential placement for a child with very complex needs can now cost up to £364,000 per annum.”

Concerns were raised in the Jay Report about the practice of using out-of-area placements to protect abused children.

The inquiry said while the strategy could be successful in some cases, there were other occasions where such placements actually increased the risks to children.

Rotherham Council is also in the process of recruiting a new manager to oversee its response to child sexual exploitation cases, chairing strategy meetings and overseeing cases of missing children.

The safeguarding children leader will be paid between £35,000 and £38,000 a year.

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