Agenda item

Quality Assurance Update

To receive an update on quality assurance, in the absence of a Performance on a Page Report.


This item provided a high-level update on quality assurance in relation to Children in Care (CIC) and the following was outlined:


Fostering Service-

·       In relation to fostering, there was a new quality assurance (QA) framework. This included a new case file audit form, designed for fostering pre-approval, post approval and the supervisory service. It also included a new dip sample template for fostering, which would be embedded over the next three months.

·       The Panel Advisor would further develop the QA function of Panel and build this into the QA framework.

·       New fees and allowances had been approved and implemented for the fostering service.

·       The Elected Members Fostering Working Group had achieved most of their objectives and would conclude in 2024.

·       A Fostering monthly scorecard was developed to enable the tracking of performance in Fostering, this was reported in to the Operational and Strategic Fostering Board.

·       Monthly Performance Meetings were scheduled with the Head of Service to track progress and identify development needs.

·       The Fostering Annual Report and Plan was now complete. The plan would be reviewed monthly.

·       Fostering Form F assessments were of a good standard, the voice of the carer and the voice of any birth children was evident.

·       There had been several independent foster agency (IFA) transfers over to the local authority, this was due to the support they have received from the service.

·       The IFA transfer reports provided enough information for the panel to make a recommendation.

·       Some development was needed with the wider service around the consistency of quality assurance of documents being submitted to the Fostering Panel.

·       The QA framework needed to be embedded in the fostering service.

·       The voice of the second carer was not always evident in review reports. This had been raised in individual cases with the relevant team manager.


Residential Services-

·       A high-level update was provided on all currently registered children’s homes, this included where in the process of registration they were, outcomes of inspections and the levels of current vacancies.

·       It was advised that the homes continued to meet the needs of the children, to a high standard

and regulation 44 visits were positive, with some low-level recommendations made to the residential services.

·       The residential staff maintained good partnership working with wider service areas.

·       One of the residential care staff members won an award for ‘Best Support Worker in the North’. Another residential home was nominated for the ‘Children’s Home Team Award’.

·       A high-level overview of recruitment in relation to residential services was provided.

·       There had been delays in the process of purchasing, completing work and registering new children’s homes.

·       Recruitment of residential staff had been slower than expected. 

·       There had been some staff absence, which had impacted upon the wider service.

·       It was noted that matching children to vacancies needed to be a speedier process and that residential staff need to be better included in planning for children and young people.


Children in Care, Care Leavers, and Family Activity Base Services-

·       There had been a refresh inquality assurance and performance activity, including a monthly performance meeting and a focus of performance in managers meetings.

·       There was now dip sampling undertaken by the Service Manager and Head of Service.

·       A new permanence panel was developed, which focused on destination planning for children in care.

·       There was step down meetings which tracked planning for children, to ensure that progress was being made in relation to children moving into in-house residential, foster placement or returning to parents where appropriate.

·       The Resource Panel had been initiated to ensure accountability over the spend in children’s services.

·       The Corporate Parenting Strategy was now complete.

·       The Care Leaver Offer had been renewed and would be finalised alongside the financial offer shortly.

·       The Care Leaver Service Plan had been drafted and this would be reviewed on a monthly basis.

·       A children in care and residential service plan had commenced.

·       Recruitment had been a success across the service, a number of personal assistants had been recruited, alongside a team manager for the children in care service and a social worker.

·       Quality and planning were being driven across the service, with a focus on robust management oversight of this.

·       Some of the most complex children had moved to in house placements, better suited to their needs. Some children had returned to the care of their parent, with careful planning.

·       Family time continued to meet the needs of children in the locality service.

·       Children and young people were able to express their wishes and views, this was evident in their plans.

·       Consistency of planning, including pathway plans required further focus.

·       It could often take too long to move children into a suitable in-house placement, when this was determined as an appropriate plan.


Next Steps-

·       The Head of Service and Assistant Director would be required to sign off the QA framework for the fostering service.

·       Children and Young people would be matched to future children’s homes to enable robust planning.

·       There would be a focus on the reduction of delays to processes in purchasing and opening new children’s homes.

·       There would be a focus on destination planning to continue and the timeliness of transitions.

·       Performance meetings would focus on compliance and quality across all service areas.

The Chair thanked the relevant officers and the update was noted.