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Agenda item


To inform the Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee on the progress and implementation of developments within the “Getting to Good” Journey for Children’s Social Care.



Mrs Booth presented the Committee with an update on the progress and implementation of developments within the “Getting to Good” Journey for Children’s Social Care. She identified that the service was facing three particularly pressing issues in the form of the volume of presenting concerns from partner agencies (Health Services, the police and schools) felt to require Children’s Social Care input and assessment; the quality of work undertaken with children and families across the partnership to remedy concerns and to prevent escalation and the quality of partnership support for those children and families; and the number of children open to Children’s Social Care, in particular those in local authority care and the financial pressure this placed on the Council.

Mrs Booth further explained that all three of these issues were intrinsically related to each other, with the volume of new work placing pressure on the capacity of the service and the time social workers had to build the effective relationships with children and families to support positive change. This then led to less effective interventions and long-term escalation of some children and families, which, in some cases, led to entry of children into the Council’s care. Equally, the high numbers of children in the Council’s care was placing significant constraints on the local authority’s ability to provide other services.

In response to a question about the previous issues experienced with police referrals, Mrs Booth confirmed that the new arrangements whereby informed consent would be required for all referrals had been implemented that week and that the Council was providing full support to the police as they adjusted to the change. Performance data resulting from the new practices would be reported to the Committee at its next meeting.

The Committee asked whether any progress had been made on recruitment to the post of Head of Service for Strengthening and Supporting Families. Mrs Booth advised that a number of applications had been received and the closing date had not yet been reached. She stressed the importance of finding the right person for the role. The Committee was informed that with regards to the use of agency staff, permission had been granted for the recruitment of higher graded social workers at H3 level in order to attract better qualified and experienced colleagues. In response to the retention issues identified, Mrs Booth acknowledged that agency staff often preferred to work for shorter periods and that there was competition across the North West for experienced social workers with the result being that other areas increased their hourly rate in order to secure agency staff. Mrs Booth made it clear however that Blackpool offered very competitive rates of pay along with financial travel incentives for applicants living outside the area.

The Committee raised concerns over the service’s budget overspend as well as the seemingly open-ended nature of the budgetary increase. Questions were asked as to timescales for anticipated improvements and a reduction of the required overspend. Mrs Booth highlighted the scale of the improvement journey and as such was unable to identify a specific date for improvement. The Committee requested that going forward future Children’s Social Care updates included detailed financial projections with target dates and identified risks.

Discussions were held over the high cost of children’s residential placements, with a request made that a detailed breakdown of costs per placement and numbers of children placed in Blackpool from other authorities be included in the report of residential children’s home provision due to the next meeting of the Committee. Members also questioned the feasibility of the Council providing its own residential provision as a means of reducing expenditure in this area. Mrs Booth identified that other Local Authorities had also recognised these costs as prohibitive and as a result the National Association of Children’s Services was examining the issue. She agreed to share the findings with the Committee once the study had been concluded. 

Members heard that there were 180 known Looked After Children (LAC) currently placed in Blackpool from other areas. Members requested that information on children placed in Blackpool from other authorities be included in the forthcoming report on residential children homes provision. In addition, Mrs Booth cited an anticipated impact study being undertaken by the Department for Education on the impact of placing young people in out of area residential placements, the results of which she agreed to bring back to the Committee. 


The Committee agreed to consider a detailed report of residential children’s home provision at its next meeting.



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