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Agenda item

Children's Social Care Departmental Service Activity and Performance Half Yearly Update (Quarters 1 - 2) for 2018/2019

To consider the report of the Lead Member People – Children’s Services. 

Minutes:

The Lead Member for People – Children’s Services submitted a report (HCSC/05/18) which advised Members of key performance management information within Children’s Social Care Services for the period 1 April 2018 – 30 September 20128. Where appropriate, comparison data such as Welsh averages has also been included.  The report provided Members with an opportunity to monitor performance and discuss any issues that related to the information provided.  

 

The Lead Member together with the Interim Head of Children’s Services introduced the report which contained a mix of both national and local measures/information and highlighted the main points contained therein.  A copy of the Children’s Social Care Performance Report 2018 -19 (1 April 2018 – 30 September 2018) was attached at Appendix A to the report.

 

During the most recent inspection of Children’s Services in Wrexham (January 2018), the Care Inspectorate Wales had expressed concerns on various staffing, quality assurance and departmental processes.  To address these concerns, improvements have been made to departmental working arrangements to make best use of office time and technology.   Action was being undertaken to improve performance in key areas and meetings to discuss performance issues were now held on a weekly basis with the Head of Department.  Work was also being undertaken in partnership with Human Resources to address vacancies in the Department.   The Department has also developed, with its partner agencies, an ‘Edge of Care Panel’, which sets out a multi-agency approach to provide co-ordinated services and packages of support for children and young people who are on the edge of becoming Looked After.  These measures have resulted in improved performance which will be reflected within the Quarter 3 & 4 measures.

 

Members considered the report and made reference to the following matters in particular:

 

·         The demand for Children’s Services has continued to increase with a 2.3% increase on the previous years’ figure and the Department continues to experience significant pressures.

·         Members welcomed the new initiatives implemented by the Interim Head of Children’s Social Care and it was noted that these should improve service performance going forward.

·         It was noted that 44% of all referrals received by the Department came from North Wales Police, a proportion of which were  related to concerns for children placed in Wrexham by other local authorities either into private residential homes or independent foster places.  Members continued to raise concern on the increased work and financial impact on the Children services budget arising from the high number of such referrals.

·         Further information was requested on the measures being undertaken to recruit and retain social worker staff.  The Interim Head of Department reported on the recent success in recruiting to all the vacant management positions in the Assessment and Intervention team (AIT) and a new recruitment programme will be launched in early 2019 to progress the process of filling the remaining posts.   New posts of Recruitment Officer and Placement Officers for the Fostering Team had also been agreed.

·         In response to a query from a Member the Interim Head of Department confirmed that exit interviews were undertaken.  She advised that staff focus groups were also being undertaken and being used to inform improvement planning.

·         Clarification that ‘out of county’ did not necessarily mean ‘out of county borders’ but may mean ‘not a council-employed carer’.

·         With reference to the average days for all assessments that took longer than 42 working days, there had been a drive in Quarter 1 to reduce the number of on-going assessments in the Assessment and Intervention Team (AIT), many of which were out of timescale.  Quarter 2 has shown an improvement in average days as expected and it was predicted that this will continue to decrease throughout the course of the year.  The Interim Head of Children’s Services reported that the most recent information indicated an improvement on the Quarter 2 position and that the number of ongoing assessments in AIT was 159 with the number of assessments open and over 42 days being 22 on the 17 December 2018 (86% within timescale compared with 70.8% at Quarter 2).

 

AGREED -  That the Committee thanked  the Lead Member and Interim Head of Department for their report and the improved updated performance information.  It was hoped that the future recruitment drive and restructuring helps with the department’s recruitment and retention of staff.

Supporting documents: