The Children in Care Performance Scorecard of July 2019 is attached.
The Head of Corporate Parenting spoke to the Performance Scorecard.
Officers highlighted that the performance had remained stable. One area of improvement was the children’s Personal Educational Plans (PEP). One area of concern was the percentage of looked after children’s pathway plans being up-to-date.
Officers shared that staff were working very hard to improve the service delivered and reach their target of 85%.
Other highlights noted positive stability of looked after children who remained in a safe placement for more than 2.5 years and children placed within 20 miles of their home.
Members of EMPIRE asked questions relating to pathway plans; why they were red and what the service was planning to do to improve the score. Officers shared that the pathway plan was there to help the young person, within their network, to build a future. Officers noted that there was not enough started for the young people aged 16-19, and the service was doing things differently and were hopeful for change. In addition, there was a new form that the service was implementing to help young people to complete their pathway plans. Training had also been provided to social workers to promote the importance of pathway plans.
Members of EMPIRE further asked about the consequences if a child’s social worker did not attend a visit. Officers recognised that the frequency of home visits with a young person was important and more could be done to improve the frequency of visits. Officers aimed for inconsistent visits to be reviewed before complaint stage. Members further added that the young person could complain directly to their Independent Reviewing Officer at the review meeting and it was for the foster carer to support the young person in making a complaint. There were also a series of contact numbers the young person could use to get through to their social worker.
In response to questions raised on how the young person could communicate with their social worker, the Care Leaver Representative offered to do some work around this with the young people and further advocate for them to feel involved.
ACTION: For the Care Leaver Representative (Ashleigh) to run a session for advocacy for the young people.
ACTION: For the young children to receive a consultation document. The Head of Corporate Parenting to lead. [From this the service would develop a pack or book looking at what language to use with looked after children].
The Panel further discussed the importance of child visits and advocacy for young children. With the Independent Reviewing Officer being an advocate for young children at LAC Reviews, the young person would be able to express their feelings and feel confident to make a complaint. Officers further noted that the increase of staff changes within the service had also impacted the performance of child visits.
Officers highlighted that there were improvements within the service where social workers were working towards a practise model for young people to talk directly to social workers about any issues. This way of working would enable the service to endorse social workers to work with their young children.
The issue of vacancy was raised by Members of the Panel and officers noted this as a longstanding issue. Officers informed the meeting that there had been an enormous change within the last six months. Despite service being able to recruit permanent managers and social workers, it was still a slow process.
Members of the Panel were concerned about the stability of staff which was significant to the quality of service a young person received. It was important that this nurtured their relationship and trust, and also affected the regularity of visits to children. Members of the Panel requested to receive regular updates/reports on staff turnover. Officers responded highlighting that the service were ensuring locum social workers were working better with their young person. This was important for each young person all of whom deserved the best service from their social worker.
ACTION: A breakdown report of staff turnover in the fostering section for the last 12 months to return to Panel.