Our achievements

Our progress to date

Having a plan is all very well, but it is the impact of that plan that is important to both the children and families in our area and the team who deliver our service. One of the benefits of being a smaller Local Authority is that we can be agile and make changes quickly. We have the total commitment of the Local Authority senior team and this has allowed us to make changes that are already resulting in significant improvements to the service in 2020.

What changes have we made?

Following review and staff consultation, we have made changes to the structure of the service. These focus on early help and prevention and giving social workers the support, team structure, and training they require.

Improved Front Door

The review process identified a need to have a ‘Front Door’ team of qualified staff to signpost, support, and triage work safely. This then takes the pressure off the MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) who can focus on managing referrals and more complex cases.

Creating teams focused on specific areas

We identified that our CASS ( Children Assessment & Safeguarding Service) had too many teams all trying to cover the full range of services. We have now restructured to have more focussed teams including;

  • Assessment Teams responsible for child assessment
  • Safeguarding and Court Work teams
  • Children Looked After teams
  • Supported by Early Help Hubs

 

The new structure ensures people are working to appropriate skills sets and experience and also there is a clear career progression pathway

Improved levels of permanent staff

Investment in additional staff has been secured and were brought in to focus on moving cases through the system to address drift and delay and get caseloads to an acceptable level.

To build a dynamic and effective service, however, we are looking to recruit more experienced, permanent staff. People who are dedicated to a career in social work and committed to achieving our vision

Improved training and supervision

We have reviewed and updated our training programme providing social workers of all levels the opportunity for structured career development in addition to providing all the skills needed for professional practice. Take a look at what we offer in terms of training.

Providing more flexible working

We understand that a lack of flexible working options may have been a barrier to experienced staff coming to work for us. We have reviewed our working arrangements and introduced more flexible working options.

 

Positive results in DfE evaluation of Creating Strong Communities

In March 2020, we received our evaluation report from the Department of Education (DfE) longitudinal evaluation of our Creating Strong Communities (CSC) Project. This project aims, through partnerships and new ways of working, to safeguard vulnerable children; implement new evidence-based approaches to how Local Authority staff interact with service users, and to establish new methods of delivery of the changes needed.

In June 2020 the results from the round two follow up of this evaluation (April 2018 – March 2020) acknowledged the changes and improvements made.

 

High praise from local Councillors

What we have managed to achieve in 2020 has been amazing and due to the hard work and dedication of our whole team. Even with the global COVID pandemic adding to our challenges in a way no one could have ever predicted, we have still managed to make significant improvements to address the concerns that were raised by Ofsted in 2019.

These achievements were acknowledged by two local Councillors in an open letter to Children’s Services;

“What you have collectively achieved since then [sic. Ofsted review] has been exceptional. Across a range of indicators, regular reporting to the Cabinet by Joanne Hewson it is evident that significant improvements have been made, progress you should all be very proud of. A very positive improvement journey recently acknowledged by DfE and also by Oftsed, as part of their recent annual review.”

 

Good rating from Ofsted

Our service is rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted.

“Children’s needs are identified and met more quickly, and they benefit from joint support delivered via child in need and child protection arrangements. Partners share a commitment to strengthening preventative services for children and families to provide early help and reduce the demand for statutory social care services. This is beginning to have the desired impact.

The local authority has successfully attracted additional investment to support development plans. Strategic partners have reconfigured their resources in
consultation with each other to maximise joint impact. The most deprived areas are benefiting from multi-agency, targeted interventions that are intended to have long term impact on outcomes for children and families.”

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