Agenda item

Children's Service Improvement Update

This report provides a progress update on children’s improvement activity with specific reference to progress made against the Children’s Improvement Plan, developed in response to the Ofsted report following the inspection in July 2019, when the service was graded Inadequate. Three Ofsted Monitoring Visits have taken place in May 2020, July 2021 and January 2022


The Assistant Director Children’s Social Care introduced the report which provided a progress update on children’s improvement activity with specific reference to progress made against the Children’s Improvement Plan.


Members raised several questions and comments which included:


Members praised the positive progress that had been made by the service as evidenced in the Ofsted letter that was published on 1 March 2022 and all staff were thanked for their hard work, commitment, and dedication to improving outcomes for children, young people, and families of Medway. It was important for staff to recognise and celebrate their success.


  • Recruitment - in response to concerns on the impact of recruitment on the early intervention improvement priorities, the officer said that an action plan was in place to mitigate issues experienced in recruitment. Recruitment in social care remained a problem that was not limited to social worker posts and the impact meant that families had to wait longer for assessment which was why the service was focused on short term intervention work, and partnership work, in particular with schools to mitigate the issues experienced as a result of recruitment.


The officer added that there was significant investment in the principle social work team, with investment on the development of staff by exploring ways to best support officers currently in post.


The recruitment market for social work posts remained significantly challenging despite investment and appropriate renumeration. There needed to be a stronger National drive by the Department for Education to tackle nationwide problems with recruitment of social workers.


  • Staff Reference Group – in response to a question on the frequency of meetings, types of issues raised and how they were addressed, the officer said that group sessions occurred frequently. Staff used the forum to openly discuss and raise a different range of concerns and a quarterly event was being set up by the leadership team to evidence the actions taken against the concerns highlighted by staff.


  • Quality Assurance – it was asked how often audit of cases took place and the officer responded that the service had a monthly audit programme in place. In addition, this was supplemented with a random comprehensive sampling of different cases. If data determined that records needed to be looked at further, sample audits would be carried out. The department had recently secured funds for extra audit capacity.


In response to a question of clarification about the six month review process, the officer stated that this was an independent review of a child’s plan which took place with the child’s family and explored permanence outcomes. According to the inspectors, this could be done better by exploring outcome at the outset of the child’s plan. This comment had been taken on board alongside all the other comments and what could be done better to improve the service.


  • Eden House – Members were informed that Eden house, a home for children with complex needs with a capacity for four children was now open with three young people in residence. The children all had their own individual plan on a 16-week programme with different types of intervention with wrap-around care tailored to their individual needs and good progress was being made.


The Director of People, Children and Adults informed the Committee that the next Ofsted visit would take place in May 2022 and the focus of that visit would be on care leavers. Medway should expect its Inspecting Local Authority Children’s Service (Ilacs)’s inspection might take place by spring 2023.


The Committee was thanked for their input, comments, and feedback as part of the Improvement Journey.




The Committee noted the report.


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