Agenda and minutes

Venue: Bromley Civic Centre

Contact: Kerry Nicholls  020 8313 4602

Items
No. Item

53.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND NOTIFICATION OF SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Kim Botting, Councillor Peter Fortune, Councillor Hannah Gray, Councillor Alexa Michael, Councillor Terry Nathan and Councillor Chris Pierce.

 

Apologies were also received from Justine Godbeer.

 

The Chairman led Members in welcoming Ade Adetosoye, Executive Director: Education, Care and Health Services and Deputy Chief Executive who had recently joined the Local Authority.

54.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

55.

QUESTIONS FROM COUNCILLORS AND MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ATTENDING THE MEETING

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, questions to the Care Services Portfolio Holder or to the Chairman of this Committee must be received in writing 4 working days before the date of the meeting.  Therefore please ensure questions are received by the Democratic Services Team by 5.00pm on Wednesday 30th November 2016.

Minutes:

Three written questions were received from a member of the public and these are attached at Appendix A.

56.

HOLDING THE PORTFOLIO HOLDER AND EXECUTIVE TO ACCOUNT

56a

CHILDREN'S SERVICES IMPROVEMENT PLAN UPDATE pdf icon PDF 422 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report CS17062

 

The Committee considered an update on progress in implementing the Children’s Services Improvement Action Plan which had been agreed by the Council’s Executive on 14th September 2016.

 

The Council’s services for children in need of help and protection and children looked after and the Bromley Safeguarding Children Board had been inspected by Ofsted between 11th April and 5th May 2016.  Although the Inspection had identified some strengths across children’s services, the Local Authority had received an overall judgement of ‘Inadequate’ and the Bromley Safeguarding Children Board was rated with a judgement of ‘Requires Improvement’.  Following the publication of the Ofsted report, the Department for Education had appointed a Commissioner to assess the service and make a recommendation on how to improve children’s services in Bromley. In September 2016, the Commissioner’s report was provided to the Secretary of State, who accepted the positive direction of travel indicated and agreed with the recommendation that a Department for Education Commissioner be appointed to undertake a further six month period of scrutiny to ensure that progress continued to be made. 

 

The multi-agency Children’s Service Improvement Governance Board was established to oversee the improvement process and support the development of the Improvement Action Plan which had 10 priorities covering the 23 Ofsted recommendations.  An Officer-led Service Improvement Team was also convened to lead on work streams identified in the Improvement Action Plan, as well as to monitor improvement actions and performance measures and to report progress to the Governance Board.  The Council’s Executive had evidenced its commitment to implement the Improvement Action Plan by agreeing an additional £950k funding to be released over two phases, with plans for a third phase of funding in early 2017 that would bring the total additional funding to £2.3m.  A comprehensive training programme had also been developed for Members to assist them in their role as Corporate Parents. 

 

The first Ofsted monitoring visit took place between 8th and 9th November 2016.  The Inspection Team reviewed six cases from the Children’s Social Care Division’s monthly audit cohort, and sampled 15 cases chosen from the list of children and young people who had been involved with children’s services since June 2016.  The Inspection Team also interviewed a number of Officers from across the Local Authority, as well as young people and parents and carers.  Following the visit, Ofsted confirmed that it recognised the progress made in management, leadership and governance, but identified a need to further improve social work practice and increase the pace of change.  It was expected that more significant improvement would be demonstrated at the next monitoring visit in February 2017.

 

In considering the update, the Chairman was concerned that of the six cases reviewed as part of the first Ofsted monitoring visit, four had been judged as ‘Inadequate’ and two as ‘Requires Improvement’.  The Executive Director acknowledged that there were issues with historical casework but that the focus of improvement would be on cases going forward.  The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56a

56b

CHILDREN'S SOCIAL CARE - RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION UPDATE pdf icon PDF 357 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received an update on the current staffing position of qualified children’s social workers in the Children’s Social Care Division as well as work being undertaken on recruitment and retention, with a view to having a more permanent and stable workforce in this area.

 

There continued to be a national shortage of children’s social workers, and the Local Authority struggled to recruit experienced social workers with one year or more post-qualifying experience and found it difficult to compete with the buoyant locum market.  Despite establishing a recruitment and retention package that offered a range of incentives including salary enhancements and a relocation package, the Local Authority had found it difficult to recruit experienced qualified social workers for a number of years and had a high level of locum social worker practitioners in most teams within the Children’s Social Care Division.  Following the publication of the Ofsted Report, the Local Authority had focused on ensuring that the majority of posts were filled by recruiting experienced qualified social workers via agencies on a short term basis to bring stability to teams and to lower caseloads, and through longer term measures such as the ‘Step Up to Social Work’ programme and Senior Practitioner Progression Pathway.  The Local Authority had also increased the total number of social worker posts across the Division. 

 

In considering the update, a Co-opted Member was concerned that work to reduce locum staff would result in a higher number of vacancies or new starters in the short term which might affect the delivery of the Improvement Action Plan over the six month period of scrutiny.  The Director of Human Resources confirmed that work to recruit permanent staff had included meetings with existing locum social workers to promote joining the Local Authority as permanent staff members which would provide continuity of service provision.  The Executive Director stated that he wanted to attract social worker practitioners who were passionate about their work and excited about getting things right for Bromley children.  The need to support Bromley social workers to identify and deliver consistently good practice had been recognised, and a number of measures had been trialled as part of the recent introduction of the Courts Team, including training and capacity measures, which would be rolled out to the wider service.  Consideration was being given to an holistic package of measures to attract permanent staff including caseloads and management culture.  The number of ‘true’ vacancies was very low and was primarily due to staff turnover, and the Chairman requested that unfilled posts be monitored closely as any vacancies would counteract other work streams in place to support the management of caseloads. 

 

A Member highlighted the high cost of housing in the region as a barrier to recruitment.  The Director of Human Resources confirmed that the Local Authority offered a £6k relocation allowance for experienced social worker practitioners, and was part of the Key Worker Scheme which helped key workers in London, the South East and East of England to buy or rent  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56b

Appendix A: Written Questions to the Portfolio Holder for Care Services pdf icon PDF 106 KB

 

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