LEADERS of the first and only council nationally to get an “outstanding” grade for children’s social care services have approved a move to help other authorities cut persistently high numbers of children being taken into care.

North Yorkshire County Council will receive up to £10m from the government to help Middlesbrough Council and up to five other authorities improve their practice by implementing its pioneering No Wrong Door initiative.

No Wrong Door aims to ensure needs of young people in care are addressed within a single team of trusted and skilled workers, who stay with a young person to prevent care, or as they pass through the care system.

A meeting of North Yorkshire’s executive heard the Department for Education’s Strengthening Families, Protecting Children programme aimed to improve social work practice to enable children to stay safely at home, thriving in stable family circumstances where that is in their best interests.

The government project is a response to high demand for children’s residential care homes, a sector which has been greatly depleted over the last decade, resulting in many authorities needing to commission costly, external placements.

This has resulted in 220 looked after children being placed in North Yorkshire alone by other local authorities, creating financial challenges which many councils highlights as being among the biggest pressures they are facing.

Councillor Janet Sanderson, the authority’s executive member for children’s services, told members she was “absolutely delighted” that North Yorkshire’s success had been recognised and that the initiative had been selected to support up to six local authorities over the next five years.

The authority’s deputy leader, Councillor Gareth Dadd pressed officers over whether participating in the scheme with a council that failed to successfully implement risked damaging North Yorkshire’s reputation and if it would mean “shipping our best staff out” to help other councils. He said: “In fairness, our first duty is to North Yorkshire.”

Officers said they would train extra staff to carry out the initiative and be working closely with the Department for Education, and if concerns emerged over a council’s ability to implement the scheme there was “a way out that would not affect North Yorkshire’s reputation”.