To receive and consider a report containing the Children’s Services Performance Indicators.
Stephen Goss, Performance Leader Intelligence and Impact presented the Children’s Services Performance Indicators.
The Committee reviewed each dashboard indicator and some of the comments made during the discussions are listed below.
Dashboard 1 – Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP)
· Stephen Goss stated that the number of EHCPs had been completed within the 20 week of the referral target had increased;
· Members were pleased with the progresses in the timeliness of completion of EHCPs.
Dashboard 2 – Early Help
· Stephen Goss stated that the numbers in relation to referrals for Early Help fluctuated during the year. However, the numbers had increased as a result of lockdown;
· Stephen Goss stated that the average length of time taken to complete Early Help assessments had risen in Quarter 4;
· Adam Davis stated that a Task and Finish had been set up to look at ways to improve the service and work with partners. The Early Help Strategy was being developed, however, this had been delayed because of Covid-19;
· Councillor Mickleburgh asked for information in regards to the complexity of referrals and how the new way of working from home was affecting the service;
· Adam Davis stated that complex cases and where the level of concern was high, would be dealt with by Social Care; he also stated that a lot of the work undertaken by Early Help had moved online and some capacity had been created as a result of working from home. He stated that the Covid-19 related questions would be dealt with in more detail at the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee.
Dashboard 3 – Children’s Social Care Front Door
· Stephen Goss stated that the number of contacts had increased;
· Adam Davis stated that with the increased number of staff now working from home, there had been a lot more virtual work; some staff who had been shielding still managed to maintain a certain level of activity by working from home;
· Stephen Goss stated that the level of staff permanency had improved and this was reflected in various areas of the service.
Dashboard 4 – Child Protection
· Stephen Goss stated that despite the current difficulties, the number of visits undertaken within the timescales had improved;
· Councillor Cheng asked what planes were put in place to prepare for the lockdown. Adam Davis stated that when it became apparent that the lockdown would be implemented, the service had reviewed all cases and sustained the level of statutory child protection visits. An assessment was made to determine where PPE would be needed, WhatsApp was downloaded into the staff phones and visits moved online where possible. A visit was only suspended if a family was presenting symptoms, in such instances the service would weigh up the risk of the visit to staff and the risk to the child;
· In response to a question Adam Davis stated that most visits were planned and not random, depending on the case;
· Councillor Mickleburgh expressed concern around children’s safeguarding, and potential increase in vulnerability during the lockdown, and asked about the schools involvement in safeguarding;
· Sal Thirlway stated that there was engagement and communication with schools, on a daily basis, to ensure children’s safeguarding continued during lockdown;
· Adam Davis stated that the challenge was now to prepare for the next phase of the pandemic. The service had had good support from the IT department in the move to working from home. There was engagement with other agencies such as the Public Health England to keep up to date with current governmental advice.
Dashboard 5 – Children In Care
· The Chairman asked who did Wokingham compare to the national figures in relation to the % visits to CIC within timescale; Stephen Goss agreed to find out and circulate the response;
· Members were pleased to note the reduction in the percentage of CIC who have more than one allocated Social Worker; Adam Davis stated that this was as a result of a more stable workforce
· Stephen Goss stated that the main reason for the increase in the number of visits undertaken within timescales was better recording;
· Adam Davis stated that the permanency and recruitment strategy had changed; for example, a member of staff had been employed to promote recruitment and permanency and the offer had been reviewed;
· In response to a question Adam Davis stated that there had been an increase of around 8% in the number of CIC since the lockdown, but he could not ascertain if this was related to Covid-19. It was possible that the pressure created by the current circumstances might create an increase in the number of CIC.
· Adam Davis stated that there was new Compass Team, this team worked to support children to stay at home or to stay in stable placements.
Dashboard 6 – Care Leavers
· Stephen Goss stated that there had been a decrease in the number of Care Leavers who were NEET. The percentage of Care Leavers in suitable accommodation had decreased;
· Councillor Mickleburgh asked for more information about unsuitable accommodation, that the data include actual numbers, not just percentages; he also asked for the types of accommodation to be listed;
· Stephen Goss stated that the percentages related to small numbers, there were only 72 Care Leavers. Therefore, small changes could swing the date considerably. He stated that custody and B&B were considered unsuitable accommodation, B&Bs were rarely used;
· Adam Davis stated that it was important to understand the nuances of the situation. For example, a child who was remand in custody became a looked after child for the period of remand, they would become a care leaver by default at the of 18, they may never have been in the service’s care when they were in the community;
· Adam Davis stated that the service was actively working with the young person who was in a B&B accommodation to find a suitable placement. He stated that the service had a good relationship with Housing;
· Councillor Bray asked when did the Council stopped being liable for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC);
· Adam Davis stated that the Council carried on supporting UASC up to the age of 21 financially, if needed. There could be challenges in relation to the child’s legal status and a human rights assessment sometimes was necessary.
Dashboard 7 – Children Missing from Home/Care
· Stephen Goss stated that the number of children missing from home had decreased and the number of return interviews had increased;
· Members asked to have more information around the reasons for children going missing;
· Councillor Mickleburgh was concerned about the risk of child exploitation, in particular in relation to CIC, and ask for a report around this issue;
· In response to a question Stephen Goss stated that new legislation was expected in relation to children missing from education and statutory attendance, in the context of the current pandemic.
Dashboard 8 – Children’s Services Workforce
· Stephen Goss sated that the turnover had stabilised, and there was a positive move towards increasing the number of permanent staff;
· In response to a question Adam Davis stated there were around just under 100 permanent qualified Social Workers employed by the Council;
· In response to a question Adam Davis confirmed that the service did employ Newly Qualified Social Workers and they did tend to stay with the Council for a period of two to three years. However, it was important to have a balance between experienced Social Workers and Newly Qualified Social Workers in the service;
· Councillor Miall asked to have numbers in the report, as well as percentages;
· In response to a question Adam Davis stated that the aspiration was to have around 10% agency staff working for the service, 100% permanent work force was difficult to achieve.
1) The report be noted; and
2) Future reports would include numbers as well as percentages.