GREATER clarity on how many children are looked after by Wiltshire Council has been requested by a team of councillors scrutinising services for children in care.

Speaking during last week's Children’s Select Committee, councillors heard that there are currently 452 children in care and 221 care leavers across Wiltshire.

Coun Jacqui Lay asked the panel of corporate parents, who work within the council but oversee the support and placements given of children in care: "We need to understand why children are in care and if there are things in the past if things have improved?"

Lucy Townsend, director of families and children’s services at Wiltshire Council, said: “For looked-after children, most areas we have improved on the previous year. Areas where we need focus on is sufficiency of placements for local foster carers, where children are being placed over 20 miles from home.

"Another area we need to focus on is children who have had three or more placements.

"However the long-term stability for children is improving. Last year it was 64 per cent and that has gone up to 77 per cent of children who have been in the same placement for more than two-an-a-half years.

“Initial health assessments remain a concern. It is important that scrutiny is taking place. That is a big concern and has been an issue for as long as I remember."

Chairman of the Children's Select Committee Cllr Jon Hubbard said: “There seems to be many reasons for the deficiency, it is concerning that this remains”

Ms Townsend said: “They did improve but they have taken a dip again. We need to work with the CCG. We expect to see some improvement.”

Wiltshire Council promised to share data about looked after children after councillors called for it to be in the public domain.

Wiltshire Council has launched a bid to find 80 more foster carers in the next 18 months, to address the growing need for people to look after children.

Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children’s services said: “We are so grateful to our incredible foster carers who really do help change a future. We always need more people to be our foster carers and make a difference to a child’s life. Take that first step to finding out more and we will support you every step of the way.”