Cabinet received a report that provided an update on the continued impact of COVID-19 on the Service and the current progress against the Ofsted Improvement Plan.
That the continued impact of COVID-19 on the Service and the current progress against the Ofsted Improvement Plan be noted.
Cabinet received a report from Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services that provided an update on the continued impact of COVID-19 on the Service and the current progress against the Ofsted Improvement Plan. During the update the following points were noted:-
· The impact of COVID-19 had led to significant rise in demand that continued to be unpredictable. This coupled with an increase in the complexity and seriousness of situations that children and young people find themselves in, was having a substantial impact on workloads; however, the service’s response to ensure children and young people were kept safe continued to be of paramount importance.
· The improvement plan (Appendix 1) had one area of red in terms of RAG rating. 4.10 ‘Children in care have a clear permanency plan by their second review.’ It was expected that there would be sufficient evidence for this to be ‘amber’ by the time this plan was reviewed next. Almost all other areas were ‘amber’.
· Reference was made to the work of the Corporate Parenting Panel which prioritised the needs of children and young people in or leaving care.
· There were lots of checks and balances in place such as an audit plan, dip sampling, weekly check and challenge and also improvements in management oversight and consistency.
· The recruitment of both qualified social workers and first and second-line managers remained a very high priority for the service. It was clear that the combined impact of working remotely for a significant period, the increased exposure to disturbing scenarios involving children and the increases in demand all have an impact on staff. Staff support continues to remain extremely important.
The Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services then gave the following information in response to Cabinet Member questions:-
· In terms of permanency plans and amber areas, the Corporate Director Children’s Services reported that work had been signed off this week in terms of quality assurance processes in relation to management oversight and supervision. Managers would provide a robust quality check on case work and ensure that pathway plans were of sufficient quality. The team had an upward trajectory and progress was being closely monitored by the Head of Service.
· Covid had meant that there had been some restricted access to children. Within the MASH, there had been a 40% increase in contacts compared with last April yet the MASH had maintained good performance with a decision made on 96% of contacts within 24 hours and 95% of referrals completed in 72 hours. The evidence of demand changes was also very clear from the data, particularly the over 60% increase in strategy meetings and those leading to Section 47 enquiries, which were the most serious cases. There was also an increase in mental health issues when children were absent from school and also an increase in demand for free school meals which showed families experiencing economic difficulties. Whilst the workload of staff was very high the Service was maintaining standards and making progress and there was no complacency on the part of managers and staff. Cabinet Members congratulated staff.
· The Deputy Cabinet Member for Sport commented that he had sat on the Corporate Parenting Panel for many years and had seen an incredible improvement in the last four years.
· The Leader referred to the abuse some young people suffer and the obligation of the Council to protect them. The Cabinet Member for Education and Children Services reported that a number of things had changed; not just covid but changes in society and the impact on young people’s mental health, losing role models and the strength of family life.
Cabinet Members welcomed the report.
RESOLVED that the continued impact of COVID-19 on the Service and the current progress against the Ofsted Improvement Plan be noted.
- Report for Children’s Social Care Improvement Plan Progress Update, item 7. PDF 478 KB
- Appendix 1 for Children’s Social Care Improvement Plan Progress Update, item 7. PDF 408 KB