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Children’s Services Improvement Plan Update – October 2020

The Improvement Partnership met earlier this week to review progress against our improvement plan. Nigel Richardson chaired the meeting and started by reminding us of three important principles that should guide our thinking:

  • Do the simple things better.
  • The clue is in the title; children’s services – the child must be the central focal point of everything we do.
  • Ask ourselves ‘So What?’ what different is our action making to safeguard and promote the welfare of children?

The Partnership considered the final letter from the monitoring visit by Ofsted that took place last month and were pleased to note the positive progress made. It was agreed that priorities for the next steps for care leavers are:

  • Continuing appropriate ‘line of sight’ arrangements by senior leaders.
  • PA and TM development in working with complexity.
  • Building multi-disciplinary engagement and support for young people with the most complex needs and who are at ‘high risk’.
  • Ensuring all young people have an up to date and high-quality Pathway Plan.

During the meeting it was confirmed that the Minister had reviewed the report about Devon provided by the Commissioner, Eleanor Brazil, and had agreed with Eleanor’s recommendations and conclusion that Devon were demonstrating capacity to improve but that given the turnover in the Chief Officer and Head of Service role Eleanor would remain involved until March 2021.

It was also confirmed that the Department for Education (DfE) had agreed to fund a ‘Partners in Practice’ agreement where Cornwall, an outstanding authority, would provide improvement support to Devon over the coming months in priority areas including care leavers and the role of the independent reviewing service. I’m working closely with them already to get this set up.

The actions matrix and highlight report demonstrated good progress against the improvement priorities of neglect, children in care and care leavers. Some slippage was noted as a result of staff turnover in the quality assurance team, but this has been addressed with new appointments taking up post over the next month. Partnership members commented positively on the scorecard and how its important to demonstrate a balanced approach – not just where we are making progress, but also where progress is more challenging due to engrained and complex needs of some of the young people we are working with.

It was agreed that the Improvement Plan would be refreshed in November to refocus outstanding actions, include the actions from the monitoring visit, the Commissioners report and the PiP work, and include an emphasis on evaluating the impact of improvements made so far.

The partnership then heard some presentations:

  • Shaeda Alam reported on the analysis of care proceedings over 26 weeks and the work that is being done with key local partners, including the courts, to address delay.
  • Leanne Colman and Jean Beynon updated the partnership about the implementation of the SWDashboard and how it is helping frontline staff to have better oversight of the timeliness of key tasks such as visits and supervision.
  • Hillary Brooks updated on progress in the Disabled Children’s Service following the review completed this summer.
  • Rachel Gillott provide a progress report on the set up of the new Edge of Care service designed to support more adolescents to remain safely with their family rather than enter care.

All of the papers from the meeting are available here.

Vivien Lines
Improvement Director

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