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Agenda item


To consider progress made against the Children’s Social Care Improvement Plan.


Mr Chris Coyle, Assistant Director – Children’s Social Care presented an update on progress against the Children’s Social Care Improvement Plan. He reported that sufficient improvements had been made and the Department for Education (DfE) had therefore removed its right of statutory intervention. This was noted as a significant step, although it was noted that the DfE had appointed a civil servant to provide dedicated support and advice to the Council as its improvement journey continued.


It was advised that two of the key aims of the plan were the aspiration to receive a “Good” Ofsted grading and that service users regarded the provision as good. This would involve better engagement with young people and their families to undertake their needs and identify where improvement could be made.


Oversight and monitoring of the plan had also been established to assist in ensuring that it was capable of meeting its aims. This included quarterly review meetings chaired by Ms Vicky Gent, Director of Children’s Services, where the work taking place would be monitored. Officers also regularly met with the DfE where constructive feedback was received and comment provided on work taking place. Mr Coyle added that the feedback received so far had been positive. Communication had also been maintained with Ofsted regarding progress and it was expected that a further inspection would be undertaken in the near future.


Mr Coyle also highlighted the data in respect of the work being undertaken, stating that the number of referrals had fallen from 1,000 to 780 per 100k, which was in line with comparable authorities. In addition to this the rate of re-referrals had fallen from 32% to 18%, which was below the national average. The number of Looked After Children had also fallen to 125 per 10k, although it was recognised that this remained above the national average. Section 47 Enquires were stated as being in line with Blackpool’s statistical comparators and the number of Children Protection Plans in place were at the national average. Mr Coyle reported that this demonstrated that the work taking place was having a positive impact and that services were improving.


It was noted that the number of Interim Care Orders was worse than the baseline figure and Mr Coyle accepted that this was the case. This was due in part due to national slippage in the number of orders but he also recognised that more could be done by the Council including work to identify members of children’s wider family.


The costs of Children’s Social Care was also discussed and Members queried if it was considered that the work taking place would lessen the financial pressures generated. Mr Coyle stated that this would be the case in the long term but pressures would remain in the short and medium terms. He advised that LAC and children in residential settings would remain the biggest cost, but that the number of these children was reducing in line with the national average and that officers were confident that services were progressing the right direction.


The vetting of agency staff was raised with Mr Coyle explaining that Blackpool used fewer agency staff than the national average in Children’s Social Care. He added that a structured process was in place for recruiting agency staff which was supported by the Council’s human resources and commissioning teams. Further to this any externally recruited staff were subject to a contractual framework that ensured robust checks were in place before they could work.


The Committee agreed that the report be noted.

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