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West Berkshire care is among the best

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Government tables on adoption and care show that the district ranks among the best

WEST Berkshire Council has been rated amongst the best in the country in terms of finding adoption families for children taken into care, according to figures released by the Government this week.

The performance tables published by the Department of Education for between April 2007 and April 2011 show that West Berkshire fell within the top 20 per cent in the country in terms of placing children with adoptive parents within a year of taking them into care, with a success rate of 87 per cent, much higher than the national average of 74 per cent.

West Berkshire's executive councillor for Children and Young People, Irene Neill (Con Aldermaston), said of the tables: “They make very satisfactory reading for West Berkshire. This is an extremely important and sensitive area of our work, and we will aim to continue to provide the best possible care and opportunity for looked after children from the whole of the district.”

The district performed well across all aspects of child care placements, except for when trying to place children within a 20 mile radius of their previous home.

The national average for finding such homes is 87 per cent, but in West Berkshire, it is only 82 per cent.

Council spokesman Keith Ulyatt said it was difficult with a small population in a predominantly rural district to find local host families.

West Berkshire scored above average in 10 out of 11 indicators and received a ‘very good' rating in five of the categories, including placing children quickly, stability of placements and in matrices measuring education.

Eighty-three per cent of the district's child placements were deemed to be stable, compared with 66 per cent nationally. And while only three per cent of children in West Berkshire had to cope with three or more placements in their lifetime, nationally, 11 per cent of children in care had to go through this ordeal.

On the education of children in care, West Berkshire scored extremely well. Thirty-six per cent of the district's looked after children were in higher education, the national average being seven per cent, and no children were deemed to be attending poor schools although eight per cent in the rest of the country were.

The statistics also show that 93 per cent of care was taking place in a suitable location, against an national average of 90 per cent.

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