Decision details

Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) Improvement check visit to Childrens Social Care Services 21 - 24 November 2022

Decision Maker: Cabinet

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


The Corporate Director, Social Services and Wellbeing presented to Cabinet the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) report of their improvement check visit to Bridgend County Borough Council Children’s Services during November 2022 and recommended that Cabinet consider the report and comments on the associated updated Action Plan.


The Corporate Director, Social Services and Wellbeing provided the background to the visit and explained that the improvement check focused on the progress made in the areas identified for improvement during the

Performance Evaluation Inspection in May 2022. She explained that by and large the improvement check showed positive progress in terms of those priorities set, in that the majority of areas identified, either showed significant improvement or some improvement and a number of areas that required further action, as a consequence of that. She advised that the authority still required improvement, in terms of its children’s social care, given that the plan that was approved was a three-year improvement plan. CIW identified improved practice in terms of hearing, and acting on the voice of the child, within practice and within case files and also continued to note that the workforce felt well supported in terms of their work. They also recognised significant strength in terms of partnership working and corporate support to children's social care and that this required a whole Council approach. 


The Corporate Director, Social Services and Wellbeing highlighted two particular areas of concern. One was the ongoing fragility of the social care workforce where significant efforts had been made and continued to be made to retain and recruit a high quality, well supported, motivated children's social care workforce. The second area in need of urgent improvement was around criminal exploitation and practice in this area. Further reports would be submitted to Cabinet around this work. She added that a stocktake of progress against the 3-year strategic plan would take place over the spring and summer of 2023 and a refreshed plan would be brought to Cabinet in September 2023.


The Deputy Leader thanked staff as it would not have been possible to achieve this without the dedication of staff, including agency staff.


The Leader echoed these comments and thanked the staff for working incredibly hard. The case load was high, and staff had risen to the challenge.  CIW identified areas for improvement but also many strengths in all areas. He also thanked colleagues across the Chamber including Group Leaders and the Chair of the Scrutiny Committee. He asked about one particular area that had been identified for improvement, the work being done by the Youth Emotional Wellbeing Team. He noted that some improvements had been made and the waiting list had shortened significantly. This action was not the sole responsibility of the authority and he asked if this was reflected in the progress reports they received.


The Corporate Director, Social Services and Wellbeing replied that that action should have been explicitly referenced in the action plan in terms of emotional health and well-being. There were a range of actions underway and the Health Board had received some significant resource and investment to support all schools across the Cwm Taff Morgannwg footprint to implement the Nest Framework which was a whole school approach to emotional health and well-being. A very close eye was kept in terms of any waiting list for those services. It was a recommendation for the authority in conjunction with the Health Board around that work with CAMHS, making sure that children and young people had timely access when they needed it.


The Cabinet Member for Regeneration said that it was pleasing to see that some progress had been made and asked if any recommendations had been made by the Scrutiny Committee and if so, had those recommendations been implemented. She also asked what improvements had been made regarding management oversight as noted in the report and if the Director could evidence how staff were being supported. 


The Corporate Director, Social Services and Wellbeing replied that the recommendations from Scrutiny had only recently been received and they would be reporting back to scrutiny in a timely manner. The first recommendation was regarding the financial strategy for children's social care as they had been in an overspend position throughout the year. They clearly needed to work very closely as one Council to make sure there was a financial strategy which supported the service to deliver statutory duties within the budget. At the moment it struggled to do that in because of the caseloads they were working with. The Corporate Director, Social Services and Wellbeing outlined the remaining recommendations and provided an update on each one. In terms of management oversite, Cabinet had approved a new supervision policy across social services and wellbeing, and this was fundamental as evidenced by CIW. With regard to supporting staff, the Social Work Support Officer had started from 1st April and would be key in supporting social workers to do their social work. An extensive wellbeing offer including trauma informed support, was also available to staff. 


The Cabinet Member for Resources referred to the action plan and asked the Corporate Director, Social Services and Wellbeing to provide further information regarding the BRAG rating system. He asked how far the one point was into red and if progress was being made turning the red into green. He asked when the next progress report would be submitted and if anything was required from Cabinet to help them to achieve their aims.


The Corporate Director, Social Services and Wellbeing replied that she would ensure that action plans contained a key in future. She explained that blue meant complete, green meant they were on track to complete within the timescales, amber was work in progress where there were concerns around meeting timescales and red indicated they were not on track at the moment. The one indicator that was red was around workforce. Despite the challenges, the workforce remained positive however they were still very reliant on agency staff and this could impact on the quality of work when trying to embed a new model of social work practice. The international recruits were very welcome and would make a real difference over time. There had been some success with recruiting newly qualified workers, and they continued to recruit into management roles. They were recruiting more into the Grow Our Own scheme and that was a medium, longer-term solution to the challenges they faced. As a Council, continued corporate support and a whole Council approach would be critical to sustainability and a move to “good”.


The Deputy Leader referred to a mental health event that she had recently attended, and she read a poem written by a young person about CAMHS. To hear the poem, use the following link:


RESOLVED:         Cabinet considered the CIW report on the improvement check of Bridgend’s Children’s Social Care Services and commented on the associated updated Action Plan. Cabinet noted the development of a sustainability plan to most effectively meet the needs of children and families in Bridgend as set out in paragraph 4.15 of the report.

Publication date: 23/05/2023

Date of decision: 11/04/2023

Decided at meeting: 11/04/2023 - Cabinet

Accompanying Documents: