New plan aims to improve the outcomes for Herefordshire children
Herefordshire Council has unveiled a detailed action plan to improve Herefordshire’s Children’s Social Care Services.
The draft Herefordshire Children’s Services Improvement Plan – which will be discussed at the Children’s Scrutiny Committee meeting on Tuesday 13 December, before being considered by the council’s Cabinet on Thursday 15 December – sets out how the council is addressing each of the areas identified for improvement by Ofsted after its recent review of the service and a tenth area identified during a LGA SEND Peer Review.
The council says a huge amount of improvement work is under way and proceeding ‘at pace’ to transform the Children’s Service – with positive results already achieved.
Key improvements already achieved and highlighted in the plan include:
Children and families have more frequent contact with their social workers.
Social workers have lower caseloads and better supervision
Key appointments continue to keep driving improvement
Relationships with local partners continue to be strengthened
More than half of the action points are on track or have been completed
Herefordshire Council’s Director of Children’s Services, Darryl Freeman, said:
“The Improvement Plan we’re submitting to Ofsted shows how committed we are to improving outcomes for Herefordshire children and building a Children’s Services of which children, young people, their families and the whole county can be proud.
“A huge amount of work has already been completed, both in response to the Ofsted inspection and the LGA Peer Review findings and as part of our own improvement programme, to strengthen the service in every area and we have detailed a comprehensive programme of future work to complete the process.
“These improvements cover every one of the ten specific areas of concern raised by Ofsted and the LGA. The plan shows how we are on target or have completed more than half of these action points.
“Already, during the financial year 2021/22, five additional social work teams have been added, we have achieved reduced caseloads, particularly in the assessment teams, increased levels of personal and case supervisions along with management oversight, and the frequency of visits to young children and their families has increased.
“That work has seen a reduction in average caseloads to less than a half of what they were a year ago; improved timeliness of visits to children and young people who are being assessed; a significant reduction in the rate at which children come into our care and a tighter grip on child protection processes which has led to a reduction in the number of children who are the subject of a child protection plan.
“We can see clear evidence of increased management oversight and there has been a wide scale review and development of our performance and management information framework.
“Change is happening at pace across the service and will continue to do so to build on this progress until we have made significant and lasting improvements in the services we offer Herefordshire families.”
Councillor Diana Toynbee, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, added:
“All of us want our services to improve as fast as possible, and I’m very pleased to have this practical concrete plan of action.
“Of course, providing children with the support they need can’t wait for plans, and alongside drawing this up we have been making significant progress on issues raised by Ofsted and the LGA.
“Bringing together contributions from staff, families, the DfE, councillors and local partners into the plan, and working with our Children’s Commissioner, has been a very constructive process. It builds confidence, keeps track of progress, and sets out how we all come together to give families the support they need when they need it. The council is tackling long-standing issues, and our focus on improving children’s lives is relentless.”
The service was rated inadequate by Ofsted following an inspection in July this year and the council given three months to prepare an action plan in response.