The Executive Director of People was in attendance to provide an oral update on the Children’s Improvement plan, following the detailed update provided to the Scrutiny and Overview Committee on 30 January 2018.
The Sub-Committee was informed that a change control process was agreed with the Chair of the Children’s Improvement Board in order to prioritise or bring forward certain improvement activities to allow fluidity in how the pan was to be delivered over the two year programme.
The Sub-Committee learned that since January 2018 there had been a lot of progress made with 24 improvement actions completed including six high risk actions. Completed including the following:
- In-depth understanding of and work completed on Return Home Interviews (RHI)
- Adoption of clear and succinct social work practice model (principle social worker will be invited to the next meeting of the Sub-Committee).
- Principle social worker leading on staff training
- Integrated work with Unit Managers
- Member learning and development sessions being delivered.
- Additional £700k allocation for business support
- Backlog amnesty of scanning completed
- CSC and missing children’s group working together
- 30% rise in work received in referral and assessment team
- Rise in number children subject to Child Protection plans.
- Currently over 100 cases in care proceedings
- Restructuring of assessment team had taken place
- Supervision and recording mechanisms have been overhauled to ensure the system is robust and trackable
- Preparations for the March Ofsted monitoring visit were underway.
- Practice week completed with 50 cases audited in preparation of Ofsted, vulnerable and highest risk cases had been monitored.
The Sub-Committee was provided with an update on the assessment team and informed that there had been a substantial increase in demand. The last quarter of 2017 saw a 30% increase in referrals compared to 2016. There had been an increase from 368 to 500 children subject to child protection plans. The number of families requiring an assessment each week had increased from 40 to 70 during November and December 2017.
In order to manage the increase in demand to the referral and assessment team, there has been a reconfiguration of the teams from six teams of six social workers to five teams of nine social workers in an attempt to balance case allocations. There was however still concerns regarding caseload and this would be reviewed on an ongoing basis.
The Sub-Committee learned that Croydon had adopted the Strengthening Families Model to focus on safeguarding practices and promote collaborative work between families and professionals in order to achieve safeguarding aims.
Members queried the relationship between front line staff and senior management to which officers responded that senior management had been more proactive in building relationships and improving line of visibility. The observation from the December 2017 Ofsted visit was that there had been an improvement in staff morale.
In response to a Member question on the role of Camden in working with Croydon, officers stated that Camden’s role was to support and inform Croydon’s children’s department on best practice. They would act as mentors and the support they provided added capacity to drive change at a faster pace.
The Sub- Committee learned that the four key areas in the first phase of the support they provided included the following:
- Support with Quality Assurance (QA) and Audit, by adding an extra perspective as key areas that informed Ofsted grading, additionally to assist to embed the new QA framework.
- Reconfiguration of frontline service which had resulted in combining the early help hub with the Multi-Agency Safeguarding hub (MASH)
- Prioritising of high risk adolescence and child sexual exploitation (CSE)
The Sub-Committee was further informed that Ofsted would send inspectors every 12 weeks to audit cases and Croydon would be advised of the areas that would be audited before each visit. Ofsted monitoring would continue over approximately two years.
The Executive Director of People agreed to circulate information on the six risk items in the Children’s Improvement Plan report to the Children’s Improvement Board to the Sub-Committee after the meeting as requested by Members.
The Sub-Committee was informed that Croydon was a complex and fast growing borough and external factors had contributed to the increase in referrals. Senior management had been proactive in constant monitoring and support of staff during this process. It had also been acknowledged that this would be a long term journey and employees should expected to be fully supported through this period of cultural change.
The Chair thanked officers for the update provided
- The information regarding the six at risk items in Children’s Improvement Plan be circulated to Members of the Sub-Committee.