ALMOST 500 children in Cheshire West are cared for by the council, new data shows.

A freedom of information request to the body reveals 493 youngsters are designated ‘looked after children’ by CWAC, with 245 aged 12-plus.

Of these adolescents, 21 are 16-17 year olds in semi-independent accommodation — which on average costs the council £2,431 per child per week.

Councillor Bob Cernik, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “The Council is committed to providing all children in the borough with the best start in life. It continues to invest in early help services to prevent the need for more costly and intrusive statutory services.

“We also work closely with our partner organisations to make sure families can be helped as soon as problems are identified so they can receive additional support. When children cannot remain safely with their families and need to come into our care they are placed, wherever possible, with our own carers, or with care providers who have gone through a formal tendering and evaluation process; this includes regional fostering, residential and supported accommodation.

“Our social workers monitor each child’s placement closely, with additional challenge by independent reviewing officers where appropriate. We also have a multi-agency panel that reviews commissioned placements to ensure that our children and young people are receiving the right level of support and to ensure the Council is receiving value for money.”

Whilst the average cost per child per week is just under £2,500, amounts vary dramatically between providers.

The cheapest semi-independent accommodation provider is Mococo House at £900 weekly, whereas the most expensive is Triangle Care Group, which comes in at £7,200 per child per week.

For those adults in semi-independent accommodation, the average weekly cost was £625 — although CWAC currently only has two people in such arrangements.