The Chair reported that at a meeting of the Performance Sub-Group further information had been requested on a number of issues relating to Safeguarding and Early Help.
Councillor Watson provided an update on each as follows:-
- High number of contacts progressing to referrals – confidence about practice
The high number of contacts progressing to referrals was reducing. There were a high number of referrals but that could be linked to cautiousness of partners but we would not want to stop anyone referring in. What we do know was that during the improvement journey there was a high proportion that were then moved into referrals but that was now not the case and a large number were either going to universal services or Early Help
- High numbers of children in care
The big 2 things that affecting this were the historical and inadequate services and the Stovewood Enquiry. As more perpetrators were being identified and charged if they had their own families, , that then become part of our caseloads because they become a Safeguarding issue. We do scrutinise every child coming into care and look at all the alternatives. The Right Child Right Care was having a dramatic effect on people leaving care
- What alternative steps can be taken to avoid taking teenagers into care
We have taken very few into care in the last 6 months. We have worked really hard on the Family Group Conferencing
- Family contact – how is this being ‘managed’ given high demand
This was very difficult to manage due to the high demand. We have had to employ additional contact staff and have been utilising some of the newly qualified Social Workers with the lower caseloads and some of the Workers in the Fostering Service. The ultimate goal was to return children to their birth families/extended families
- Numbers of children leaving care and how this is reflected in performance information
In 2018 148 children have been discharged. If this continued it would be approximately 222 for the year, however, a similar number had come into care
- Continuing concerns about health and dental assessments
This is one of the things that tended to improve when everyone was pulling in the right direction but it had to be as normal business. Some of it was due to late inputting by Social Workers. We were working with partners. For the Looked After population the dental assessments were more up to date than the general population
- Concerns about care leavers in employment, education or training (related issues about quality and scope of apprenticeship offer)
About 61% which was higher than the national average but significantly less than the general population (in Rotherham 93.5%). Significant number of the young people had health issues and not available for work. The Corporate Parenting Panel had been pushing partners to offer LAC readiness of apprenticeships. Councillor M. Elliott, on behalf of the Corporate Parenting Panel, was doing an excellent job with partners on this subject
- Referrals – improvement in numbers coming from schools (39% of referrals) however, very few from hospitals. What steps are being taken to address and confidence about pace
The number of referrals from schools was very good but it was not referrals we were worried about but Early Help Assessments. Our Health partners were not carrying out as many assessments as we might expect. We have been working on this recently and agreed to reaffirm to Health Visitors, School Nurses and Midwives that they must utilise the Early Help Assessment to support children and families. We have done bespoke briefing sessions with those Services and had a pilot to create a group of professionals in the Central locality solely to work on Early Help Assessments. As Early Help Assessments become mature in an Authority partners become more confident
- Variable quality of assessments
We know from work we started 3 years ago in Social Care that the important thing was to get compliance and get the assessments done. There was now 100% compliance but it was tracking the quality of them and doing proper audits so auditing was now done through our Team Managers and our own Internal Audit processes, and sitting with the Worker with the report in supervision. As the re-organisation of the Service became more ingrained it was believed it would improve
- Confidence about step-up/step-down
Because of the co-location and co-working cases, could transferred to and from one another which helped the family and the fact that they were now co-located in the regional neighbourhood working hubs. Now the Early Help consultation had finished it could move towards implementation
- Differentials in team performances – action taken to address this
Action was in place to address differentials in team performance and there was no longer separate management locality meetings; they were all conducted in one place so others could benefit from others’ best practice
- Assurance sought about children missing from home pathways
Was now working effectively with children going missing less. There were less episodes per child.
Resolved:- (1) That the feedback be noted.
(2) That a progress report be submitted on dental assessments in 4 months.
(3) That a progress report on apprenticeships offer be submitted in 9 months.