Agenda item

Agenda item

Responding to Children in Need of Help, Support and Protection

Two presentations previously submitted to the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee are attached as background information.

Minutes:

In response to a Member’s question about the areas that Ofsted would focus on in their inspection, the Strategic Director for Children and Education Services drew Members’ attention to the information in the two presentations, included in the papers, which had previously been delivered to the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee and outlined the approach Ofsted was likely to take.  He highlighted some of the key areas they were likely to look at, including the number of referrals to social services, partnership working and how well partners such as schools, police and health colleagues understood the threshold for referrals.  He also highlighted the recent Local Government Association Peer Review and offered to bring this to a future scrutiny meeting.  In response to a Member’s question, he reported that he had not yet received the letter outlining the feedback from the Peer Review but that the verbal feedback had been positive, while also providing a lot to consider.

 

A Member advised that IT had been identified as an issue of concern on recent visits to social work teams.  The Deputy Director of Children’s Services explained that the service had invested in technology in 2017 and 2018 so a lot of laptops were coming to the end of their shelf-life in 2020, coinciding with the pandemic and supply issues, so there had been delays in the distribution of new laptops.  He acknowledged that Wi-Fi was poor across the service’s estate but advised that a temporary fix had been put in place.  He also outlined the work taking place to resolve outstanding IT issues.  The Chair advised that it was important that staff were being kept informed about what was being done to try to resolve issues rather than surmising that managers were not bothered about the issues they were having.

 

The Chair commented positively on a recent visit she and other Members of the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee had undertaken, highlighting the team spirit within the social work teams.  The Strategic Director for Children and Education Services advised that these visits were important because they made staff feel listened to and Members were able to amplify issues. 

The Chair commented that the changes to the Longsight Office, including the increase in informal spaces, was working well.  A Member emphasised the importance of issues such as IT and the buildings that social workers were working in, advising that these could have an impact on staff retention.  The Strategic Director for Children and Education Services advised that support from colleagues was important for social workers and that there needed to be an office environment that enabled this.  He informed Members about work taking place across the Council to look at the condition of its entire estate.  The Subgroup discussed the possibility of having more co-located services.

 

A Member welcomed that fewer children were becoming Looked After, praising the role of Alonzi House and Edge of Care Services.  The Deputy Director of Children’s Services advised that Mental Health support was important, in particular early intervention, including universal services, Healthy Schools, THRIVE and working collaboratively with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

 

A Member commented positively on the work of schools during the pandemic.  The Chair welcomed the partnership working which had been taking place, including with the Voluntary and Community Sector.

 

The Chair reported that, based on recent visits to social work teams, staff felt that they could concentrate on significant cases while advising on others; however, she commented, that sometimes schools staff who were experienced in safeguarding felt that a particular case met the threshold for social work intervention but that this was not accepted by Children’s Services.  The Strategic Director for Children and Education Services acknowledged that sometimes different professionals held different views on a particular case and he outlined how he and his service were engaging with schools and how clusters of schools were working together.  The Chair emphasised the important role of schools and the importance of ongoing conversation and relationship building. 

 

The Strategic Director for Children and Education Services suggested that the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee could look again at proxy indicators, such as repeat referrals.  In response to a Member’s comments, he also suggested that Members could look at serious youth violence at a future scrutiny committee meeting.  The Chair suggested that Members could look at the outcomes from Serious Case Reviews.

 

The Deputy Director of Children’s Services advised that improved services with strong partnerships resulted in better outcomes for children and families and also more opportunities to apply for and obtain grant funding.

 

Decision

 

To note the discussion and the issues raised.

Supporting documents: