The Sub-Committee considered a report which provided an update on progress in delivering the Children’s Service Improvement Plan.
The Children’s Service Improvement Plan had been developed in conjunction with partner agencies and was made up of ten priority areas which aimed to address 23 recommendations made by Ofsted following an Ofsted inspection of the Council’s services for Children in Need of Help and Protection and Children Looked After which had been undertaken between 11th April 2016 and 5 May 2016 that had found the Council’s services to be inadequate in all areas. For the period covering 1st May 2016 to 31st August 2017, a total of 298 had been identified for completion. As at 31st August 2017, a total of 23 outstanding actions were RAG rated as ‘Red’ (8%), 142 actions were RAG rated as ‘Amber’ (48%) and 133 actions were RAG rated as ‘Green’ (44%). All actions rated as ‘Red’ had been highlighted in a monthly ‘Exemption report’ and were discussed at the meeting of the Children’s Service Improvement Governance Board on 22nd September 2017.
The Director of Children’s Social Care explained to Members that in September 2017, a new Secretary of State Direction was issued to Bromley. This confirmed that Bromley’s Children’s Services would no longer be subject to review by a Commissioner, instead the Independent Chairman of the Children’s Service Improvement Governance Board was required to submit quarterly updates to the Department for Education (DfE). In addition it was noted that commitment from Bromley would ensure that the improvement of children services continued.
The final report of the Commissioner for Children’s Services in Bromley had been published earlier in September 2017. In her report the Commissioner had recommended that Bromley should continue to run its own Children’s Services.
There would be a further Ofsted Monitoring Visit at the end of October with the final visit taking place in February 2018. After this the Council would be back on the schedule for a full Ofsted Inspection from April 2018 onwards.
The last Ofsted visit had taken place over the 8th and 9th of August 2017. In their feedback letter to the Council the Inspectors had confirmed that they had seen no Inadequate practice in the cases that they had reviewed; Managers were making professional judgements and these were having an impact; the Authority’s response to child sexual exploitation (CSE) was proportionate; and caseloads within the service were reducing with professionals utilising thresholds appropriately.
The Director confirmed that the feedback from Ofsted had been pleasing but there was still more work to be done.
In addition to the improvement agenda, there had also been the opportunity to introduce innovations to service delivery such as the Care Leavers’ Hub and the Corporate Parenting Fun Day.
In relation to recruitment and retention, the Director reported that if all the offers of permanent positions were accepted nearly 80% of staff within the Service would be permanent. A great deal of effort was going into recruiting staff but managers were also ensuring that the right people were being made offers. It was important that high quality staff were in place to continue to drive the improvement agenda.
In response to a question from the Chairman, the Director of Children’s Social Care confirmed that Officers were working to refresh the Member’s training programme and ensure that arrangements were in place to deliver training during the induction of new Members in May 2018. The Chairman suggested it would be helpful if each Political Group Leader in the Council made training in Safeguarding and Corporate Parenting compulsory in the New Municipal Year.
The Sub-Committee congratulated and thanked staff within the Department and across the Council for the “fantastic progress” that had been made.
RESOLVED that the update be noted.