I COMMEND the article entitled ‘Demo in Hereford over county’s failed children’s services’ (October 5).

The demo protested against the high number and crippling cost of children in care in Herefordshire. The families called for a full public inquiry.

A speaker demanded the resignation of the director of children’s services.

Herefordshire has about twice the rate of children in care than its statistical neighbours’ average (per LAIT). Are parents in Herefordshire really twice as bad as parents in similar areas? Or are the county’s social workers, managers and lawyers twice as bad?

What are your thoughts?

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If children are unnecessarily in care, often miles from home, it is very detrimental to them and their families and very expensive. The average cost of one child in care for one year was (in January 2023) over £16,000 for in-house fostering, over £46,000 for private fostering, and over £260,000 for children’s homes. As these are averages, some placements are much more costly. In 2022/2023, the five most expensive placements unbelievably ranged from £1,524,164 to £1,015,269.

The budget for children in care for 2023-24 was £26.6 million, but it is likely to be £34.3 million, a forecast overspend of £7.7 million. The budget could be about £17 million and £17 million spent elsewhere (or not spent).

Virtually no permanent social workers have been recruited by the council during the last several months. Agency staff are much more expensive and mean detrimental frequent changes of children’s social workers.

Will the “inadequate” children’s services bankrupt the council?