- Chairman of the Rotherham Local Safeguarding Children Board to report.
Consideration was given to the 2013-14 Rotherham Local Safeguarding Children’s Board Annual Report which was introduced by Mr. Steve Ashley, Independent Chairman. Background information on the key priorities within the Business Plan were highlighted as part of the report under the areas of:-
· Child Sexual Exploitation.
· Child Neglect.
· Domestic Abuse.
· Early Help.
It was pointed out that this report did not take account of any of the recommendations from the Jay Report or the Ofsted inspection as this was based on activity from the previous year.
As part of the service developments the Council, Police and other partners were implementing a Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). As part of the MASH a domestic abuse hub was also being developed that would see Police Officers, Social Workers, independent domestic violence advocates and other professionals working together to provide an effective and timely response possible to domestic abuse. This would include the use of a Domestic Abuse Risk Assessment Matrix to enable professionals to identify risks, protective factors and the most effective response for individual children and their families.
It was also noted that the number of children and young people in the Borough who were at risk of significant harm, were taken into care or have concerns about them referred more than once was high/increasing. Providing the right help at the right time for children and their families could and did prevent problems from escalating.
In the past twelve months, the Local Authority had developed an early help dashboard to provide the Local Safeguarding Children Board members and advisors with an overview of activity in the Borough. This included caseload information relating to child/young person/family support provided by, amongst others:-
· Children’s Centres.
· Targeted Family Support Team.
· Integrated Youth Support Service.
· Learning Support Service.
As previously reported there were still concerns over data quality and the concerns over information interpretation which may be misleading or incorrect. However, it was noted that the concerns relating to front door referrals into children’s social care had led to significant improvements in a short period of time.
The Local Safeguarding Children’s Board in taking account of the results of the Ofsted Inspection had made changes with regards to the position of the sub-groups and how these would be managed. As a result the Child Sexual Exploitation Sub-Group would be chaired by the Independent Chairman of the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board in order to give the independent oversight for the agencies involved. Partner agencies had also joint funded a short term position for the auditing of child sexual exploitation multi-agency work up to the 1st April, 2015. The first report by the postholder was to be considered on Friday.
The Improvement Plan also recognised the progress made last year on the relocation of services into Riverside House into a multi-agency team and this would continue to be monitored and challenged where appropriate by the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board.
Responses were provided to queries by Cabinet Members about the right information and data being available in a timely fashion and it was noted that action was already being taken to address concerns with South Yorkshire Police by the four Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards.
Rotherham’s Local Safeguarding Children’s Board was making good progress of the auditing process and had robustly improved its processes. In addition, any outstanding actions were submitted to agencies in writing asking that they respond with what action was being taken, when this would be completed and specific dates. In the event that this request was not forthcoming this would be escalated to senior priority within the respective agency.
Concerns expressed by Cabinet Members with regards to “big data” and the detail in the report about incidents resulting in investigation were clarified, which were closely monitored by the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board.
The Acting Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services also pointed out that the successful in principle Challenge Award Bid had been placed on hold pending the outcome of the Corporate Governance Inspection.
When looking at the I.T. systems and the need to share information between agencies, the Child Sexual Exploitation Team had an added advantage with the inclusion of a Police Data Analyst.
It was also reported that the first meeting between the Chairmen of the Health and Wellbeing Board and the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board had taken place as to how they could work together in more joined up way.
The Ofsted Inspection had also made reference to the low number of Serious Case Reviews over the past four years and the Local Children’s Safeguarding Board were aware of the thresholds and also expressed some surprise at the low number of referrals to the Department for Education in terms of incidents. The Serious Case Review Panel assessed requests against set criteria or offered challenge as to whether a Serious Case Review was recommended or not. It was noted that the numbers had been lower nationally over the last three to four years and not just in Rotherham, but Serious Case Reviews were expensive and few people were in a position to be authors of Serious Case Reviews.
The consideration of specific cases against Serious Case Review criteria were not published in the public domain by the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board due to the nature of their confidential content and Serious Case Reviews were not the only or necessarily the best method for learning or improving services. In cases that did proceed to a Serious Case Review the final report was published in the public domain in full.
The Chairman of the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board assured Cabinet Members that the audit process was much improved and more effective and information was shared with relevant teams for improvements, which was welcomed and also endorsed by Children and Young People’s Services. This provided additional capacity and the different roles and responsibilities all had the same aims to work towards improving services for children.
The powers of the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board were limited when unsatisfactory outcomes were identified, but as noted previously any concerns of unmet requests for action were escalated to the most senior level. In terms of the involvement of Elected Members, the Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services also sat on the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board and the Annual Report was also considered by the relevant Scrutiny Select Commission.
Resolved:- That the report be received as an introduction to the 2013-14 Rotherham Local Safeguarding Children Board Annual Report, updating on the requirements and work of Rotherham’s Local Safeguarding Children Board to safeguard children and young people in the Borough.