Agenda item - Ofsted - an update on the 2015 children's services inspection

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Agenda item

Ofsted - an update on the 2015 children's services inspection

Report of the Executive Director for Families, Children & Learning (copy attached)

 

Decision:

38.1    RESOLVED: That the Committee noted the progress made around recommendations arising from the Ofsted inspection in 2015, and agreed that future updates should focus on the new inspection framework referred to in the body of the report.

Minutes:

38.1    The Committee considered the report of the Executive Director, Families, Children & Learning, which provided an update on progress made since the 2015 Children’s Services Ofsted inspection. The report was introduced by the Assistant Director for Safeguarding and Care and the Service Manager for Policy & Business Support.

 

38.2    Councillor Brown thanked officers for the update, and commended the department on their willingness to have outside verification for the changes happening in the service. Councillor Brown noted that there had been a 10% decrease in both children with Child protection plans and those in care, and as the number had increased for other authorities was concerned that the Council’s threshold for services had been raised, but was assured that that wasn’t the case and it was the new model of practice which had provided more early support and stability which had reduced the number. The recent audit for social work showed that the quality of supervision was good or better in 89% of cases which was a huge improvement and hope that next time the Authority is inspected we will receive a ‘Good’ rating.

 

38.3    Councillor Phillips asked for more information on the process for Child in Need assessments, and asked what steps would be taken to increase the percentage from 70%. The Assistant Director for Safeguarding and Care said previously the Authority undertook an initial assessment which had to be completed within 10 working days, or a core assessment which was more comprehensive which needed to be completed within 45 working days, but that was changed two and half years ago and was replaced by a more proportionate assessment. So rather than being tied up with timescales it was looking at the presenting issues and what was the proportionate response.

 

38.4    Councillor O’Quinn was pleased to note so many positive actions being put in place. With regard to fostering, there had been a big effort to get more foster carers but she was aware that it was difficult to get ones to care for children with complex needs and asked for more information. The Assistant Director for Safeguarding & Care said it was difficult and that the Authority were building in wrap around support for both the young person in placement and for the carers, and looking at things such as providing respite care for all parties, and looking carefully at the needs of the young people to ensure the right support was being provided. The Authority worked closely with the child’s school and social workers, and provided a team around a child so the foster carers did not feel they were being left on their own.

 

38.5    Councillor Wealls was pleased to note that 96% of care leavers were deemed to be in suitable accommodation and asked why was that figure so high when there were known problems with housing in the city. The Assistant Director for Safeguarding and Care said that the authority were lucky to have good third sector providers such as the YMCA.

 

38.6    Councillor Wealls noted that 96% of assessments were completed within 45 working days, and asked if that was a national standard. The Assistant Director for Safeguarding & Care said that 45 days was a national standard, but locally there was an expectation that the assessments would be completed within 30 working days. However, in more complex cases it could take up to 45 days.

 

38.7    Mr Jones was concerned to note that a child would not be seen by a social worker until an assessment had been undertaken. The Assistant Director for Safeguarding & Care Assurance said that if a referral came in and it was a child protection matter, the child would be seen within twenty-four hours, and if it were a lower level child in need matter the child would be seen within three working day.

 

38.8    Councillor Penn said that it was brave of the Council to accept that things weren’t working as well as it could, and to make changes. It was a credit to the social work team that the new model was working so well, and to have a ten percent decrease in children in care and on child protection plans was fantastic.  Councillor Penn asked if the main differences between the models could be outlined. The Assistant Director for Safeguarding & Care said that the new model focused on social workers spending time with children and families, and rather than referring children to external services the social worker would build a relationship with families to effect change. The new model ensured social workers had manageable caseloads and that the bureaucracy was kept to a minimum, and now rather than a family being moved to different people as their case progressed through the system, the same social worker would remain with a family throughout. Councillor Penn noted that the new model had also assisted with the retention of social workers. The Assistant Director for Safeguarding & Care agreed and said that previously twenty percent of social workers were agency workers, but now there were no agency staff. 

 

38.9      Councillor Janio was surprised to note that 669 children were seen over a three month period, and asked if that figure was correct. He was advised it was, but could include siblings so that wasn’t individual families. The Executive Director of Families, Children and Learning reminded that Committee, that there were 51,000 children in the city.

 

38.10   RESOLVED:

 

(1)       That the progress made around the recommendations arising from the Ofsted inspection in 2015 be noted; and

 

(2)       That future updates should focus on the new inspection framework referred to in the body of the report.

Supporting documents:

 


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