Councillor Jane Gebbie - Deputy Leader of Council and Cabinet Member for Social Services and Early Help
Claire Marchant - Corporate Director - Social Services and Wellbeing
Laura Kinsey - Head of Children’s Social Care
Iain McMillan – Deputy Head of Children’s Social Care
Raeanna Grainger – Group Manager, IAA & Safeguarding
Tracey Shepherd - Senior Manager - Local Authority Inspection Team - Care Inspectorate Wales
The Corporate Director – Social Services and Wellbeing presented the report, the purpose of which was to present the Committee with the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) report of their improvement check visit to Bridgend County Borough Council Children’s Services during November 2022 and the associated updated Action Plan.
The Chair thanked the Corporate Director - Social Services and Wellbeing and Members discussed the following:
· Thanks to the Deputy Head of Children’s Services for his dedication and commitment during his time with the Authority.
· The number of areas identified as requiring further action and the budget necessary to support the improvements highlighting the cost of agency staff and the ongoing implementation of the Signs of Safety model.
· That announced and unannounced visits from CIW could be expected to monitor progress and that practice should be of a preferred standard regardless of whether or not the Service was under inspection.
· The Service improvement journey requiring focussed and strategic leadership and sustainable investment over time and the need to get the practice model right.
· Areas of pressure which are typical across all authorities such as recruitment challenges and areas which are atypical, such as the increase in referrals, particularly in children’s social care, at a level which an analysis by the Institute of Public Care indicated would likely continue for at least 2 years.
· Numbers and management of open cases within each of the locality hubs and recording of referrals into the Information, Advice and Assistance (IAA) Service.
· Initiatives to improve recruitment including apprenticeships, international recruitment, investment in Grow Our Own and implementation of Social Work Support Officer roles and concerns regarding gaps in some services and reliance on agency staff requiring sustained action.
· Context around the blue, red, amber, green (BRAG) status’ attributed to each ‘area for improvement’ in the Directorate’s Action Plan.
· Placement sufficiency including the eliminating profit agenda and use of unregistered and out of county placements.
· Steps being taken to address the priority issue of child exploitation, including regional and partnership working.
· The rapid review and measures to improve supervised contact between care experienced children and their families.
The Committee thanked the Deputy Head of Children’s Services for his dedication and commitment during his time with the Authority and wished him well for the future.
The Chairperson advised that Members of the Committee who wanted to ask questions had all spoken, so as there were no further questions for the Invitees, thanked them for their attendance and advised that they may leave the meeting.
Following detailed consideration and discussions with Officers and Cabinet Members, the Committee made the following Recommendations:
Concern was expressed regarding the sustainability
of the budget to support the budget pressures in the Social
Services Directorate and the Committee recommended that the budget
setting process be started at an earlier stage to enable cross
party input to assist Cabinet in what could be a potentially
challenging Medium Term Financial Strategy.
2. That advice be issued to all Directorates regarding a standardisation of the BRAG Status’ used in Reports and Action Plans to ensure a consistent approach and meaning.
and the Committee requested:
3. In relation to the 32% increase in contacts/referrals during the period of April to August 2022, the number of contacts to which it refers.
4. A copy of the Exploitation Screening Tool being trialled in the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub, a copy of the presentation that was provided to headteachers regarding exploitation and any update from the Cwm Taf Task and Finish Group relating to best practice in the approach to exploitation.
A summary of the recommendations and the short-term mechanisms which were initiated following the rapid review of supervised contact.