Plans to improve children’s services after critical Ofsted letter

Children being taken into care by Leeds City Council must have an outcome recorded within 24 hours, according to a new “action plan” from the authority.

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 4:45 pm
Children being taken into care by Leeds City Council must have an outcome recorded within 24 hours, according to a new “action plan” from the authority.

It also stated more will be done to help train children’s social workers to help them better report on children who may be in need of local authority help.

It follows a “focussed visit” and subsequent letter sent to the council by Ofsted earlier this year, which deemed improvements needed to be made to parts of the authority’s children’s services.

A report, set to go before the council’s Children and Families Scrutiny Board next week, sets out an “action plan” to improve the service, and claimed improvements had been made since the visit.

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The letter, sent last month, claimed the service was sometimes slow to make decisions about young people needing support. It also suggested the quality of assessments of children’s situations by social workers was sometimes inconsistent.

It was seized on by opposition councillors, with the Conservatives calling it “alarming”, and urging the council to introduce a three-point improvement plan to get back on track.

Leeds City Council’s ruling Labour group claimed at the time that no child was found to be at risk, and had claimed improvements were already being made.

The latest report indeed sets out a three point plan to improve the quality of assessments, supervision for social workers and making sure audits were independent.

It states: “The action plan includes a daily strategy discussion escalation process to ensure that any individual challenges are highlighted and addressed as a matter of urgency to enable attendance by all the three key partners.

“Additional resource has been identified to support full attendance by all three partners and multi-agency process mapping will take place during September to enable the strategic partnership to fully understand any ongoing barriers and to address these as a matter of priority.

“The multi-agency weekly referral review meeting is monitoring the attendance and quality of strategy discussions and has noted improvements since the Focused Visit.

“Single agency and multi-agency performance management and quality assurance activity has been enhanced to provide additional scrutiny and progress and an action plan is in place for the duty and advice team that includes a focus on timeliness and ensuring that all

conversations are comprehensively recorded.”

It said that a new learning programme is also on offer for social workers and social work managers.

The report added: “The Covid pandemic has had a significant impact on the health and well-being of social work practitioners and managers in Leeds.

“Working from home has compromised the opportunities for face-to-face discussion, reflection and learning for the last 18 months since the pandemic began, thus impacting on the consistency of practice.

“To mitigate the impact of the pandemic the service is working at pace to ensure social work teams have access to office space for at least 50 per cent of the working week. This will include access to

collaboration spaces and spaces to meet with children and families in the community.

“Resumption of face-to-face team meetings and supervisions are being made a priority.”

The report is going to be discussed at a meeting of the council’s Children and Families Scrutiny Board on Wednesday, October 13.