The following is an update from Vivien Lines, Devon County Council’s Improvement Director.
Today (21 May 2020) I presented an update on the Improvement Plan developed in response to the Ofsted inspection of children’s services completed in January this year, to the DCFP Executive.
The current Improvement Plan takes forward the priority concerns identified by Ofsted, including practice relating to a small group of care leavers and children at risk of chronic emotional abuse and neglect, as part of the arrangements we have put in place at this time to make sure the most vulnerable children and young people in Devon are safeguarded effectively given the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The DCFP Executive has currently taken on the role of the Improvement Board and has provided fortnightly oversight and challenge to the progress of the improvement plan over the past two months.
Particular progress was noted today in relation to:
- A continued high rate of completion of risk assessments on all open cases in children’s social care to ensure additional risk factors and support needs arising from the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on families are considered and met and to ensure the most vulnerable children at this time are clearly identified and are supported.
- An effective process has been maintained through senior managers ‘dip sampling’ risk assessments to ensure confidence in them.
- There has been an increase in the proportion of vulnerable children attending school this period to 36% of children subject of a protection plan, 21% children in care, 22% children in need allocated to a social worker.
- Work on ensuring there is no drift and delay in cases where children are experiencing chronic emotional abuse or neglect is progressing well through close oversight of individual cases and close working with partners such as Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) and legal colleagues.
- Good capacity continues to exist in residential and foster care for children who need to come into care, although some challenges remain in finding placements for a very small number of children with very complex needs.
- Close oversight of the small number of care leavers who are not yet in suitable accommodation continues to impact, with arrangements for individual children showing progress in better meeting their complex needs.
- An approach to partnership quality assurance of practice for the current context has been put in place and is starting to operate effectively.
- Incident Management Teams have been reviewed to ensure readiness for the next phase of response, including preparations for the reintegration of children into services.
- Business continuity arrangements remain robust across core services with continued delivery of all statutory services.
- Good progress has been made putting in place the capacity needed for the next phase, including the appointment of Case Progression Workers and the additional Personal Advisers agreed to work with Care Leavers.
Currently preparations are being made for moving back into ‘business as usual’ arrangements and the next phase Improvement Plans are currently being developed in light of this. This next phase will allow for the full range of improvements identified as needed by Ofsted to be addressed, alongside taking forward what has been achieved in the past two months.
For more information or if you have any questions about the improvement plan, please email us.