To consider a report from the Executive Director – People (Deputy Chief Executive).
Members considered a report from the Chair of the Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Advisory Board on the Children’s Improvement Plan. The report provided the Board with an overview of how Scrutiny would be involved in reviewing the Plan.
Members were guided through the Plan and made observations on the content. It was queried whether the Joint Safeguarding Oversight Board would perform the same functions as the Children and Young People Scrutiny Advisory Board. The Executive Director - People (Deputy Chief Executive) reported on the terms of reference for the Joint Safeguarding Oversight Board and gave the context for the Plan’s development. He informed members about the quarterly telephone call he had with the DfE, the adminstration involved in the work of improvement in the service area and the membership and work of the Joint Chairs’ Group. The Terms of Reference for the Joint Safeguarding Oversight Board would be shared with members.
In reviewing the Plan, it was raised that two new indicators had been added which were both red (Number of cases open for 12 months plus where a reassessment has been initiated and CIN plans over 12 months plus (excluding SEND teams)). Further narrative was required on the indicators and the importance of monitoring the indicators was emphasised. The Executive Director - People (Deputy Chief Executive) welcomed the challenging indicator as it helped with the direction of travel towards a ‘Good’ Ofsted inspection outcome.
In welcoming the Plan, a member questioned why it was anticipated that Child Sexual Exploitation would increase and why CLA with 3 or more placements in a year was expected to be maintained. The Executive Director - People (Deputy Chief Executive) explained that the indicators had been set in the context of rising numbers of Children Looked After. He was aiming for a sufficient number of in house foster carers which may help in the reduction of placements. The Assistant Director Children and Young People commented that in terms of placement stability figures, Cumbria was below national and statistical neighbours figures. The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services stated that nationally, the figures of CLA continued to increase but their needs still must to be met. In terms of CSE, a member highlighted that it was a new area of work. The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services responded that partnership working was underway, for example, with the Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner to address the growing issue of CSE.
A number of members mentioned the lack of diversity of the people in the pictures in the Plan. Officers would review this. It was queried why the number of Early Help Audits stepped up to Children’s Services were anticipated to increase rather than decrease and in the three new KPIs relating to Social Workers, all the indicators identified that the figures would increase, which worried one member. The Executive Director - People (Deputy Chief Executive) explained that Ofsted had identified that some children should have been placed higher in Early Help, therefore it was important that the right child was placed correctly. He highlighted that some Social Workers’ targets had not been attained due to recording issues and was not related to people. This target was being addressed by Team Managers. Members were reassured that plans were in place that children were getting their needs met and that the council’s priority was children and young people.
Members asked for an update on the target of 30 September 2018 for Improvement of Consistency in the Quality of Social Work Practice for Disabled Children as it would end before the next Children and Young People Scrutiny Advisory Board meeting. The Executive Director - People (Deputy Chief Executive) reported that he had been reassured that the targets were on track. In terms of the Improving Transition target (relating to the recent council restructure), the officer structure was under review and changes would take place by the end of the year. Members requested a written update on progress on the 30 September targets.
1 The Terms of Reference for the Joint Safeguarding Oversight Board would be circulated to the Board
2 The Children’s Improvement Plan be a standing item on each Children and Young People Scrutiny Advisory Board meeting
3 The Improvement Plan be received.
4 The diversity of the people in the Plan to be reviewed
5 A written response be provided to members regarding the targets for Improving Consistency in the Quality of Social Work Practice for Disabled Children.