A Herefordshire Children's Services Improvement Plan has been created to transform Herefordshire's Children's Social Care Services.
The detailed Action Plan sets out how the council is addressing each of the areas identified for improvement by Ofsted following a review of the service in July 2022, and a tenth area identified during a recent LGA SEND Peer Review.
The Plan was endorsed by Cabinet on Thursday 15 December 2022. It aims to improve the outcomes for children and young people across the county.
You can read updates on our progress below.
A High Court judgment was published on 26 March 2021, which raised significant concerns about Herefordshire's Children's Social Care Services. Following this, on 18 May 2021, the council was issued with a non-statutory improvement notice by the Department for Education (DfE) and appointed Gladys Rhodes White OBE as an Improvement Adviser for a minimum of 12 months, and until such time that the Secretary of State is satisfied that she is no longer required.
A Children's Services Improvement Board was formed, chaired by Gladys Rhodes White to oversee the improvement journey, consisting of representatives from a wide range of agencies who work with children and young people.
On 21 September 2022, Herefordshire Children's Services was rated inadequate following an Ofsted inspection that took place between 18 to 29 July 2022, and the council was given three months to prepare an Improvement Action Plan in response.
Following the publications of the Ofsted report a statutory direction was issued on 21 September 2022, by the Secretary of State to Herefordshire Council and Eleanor Brazil was appointed as Commissioner for Children's Services in Herefordshire.
2 August 2023
Feedback from the second Ofsted monitoring visit of Herefordshire Council’s children’s services that took place on 28 and 29 June 2023, was published by the council. A full copy of the Ofsted letter can be read here. The council’s response to the feedback can be found here.
3 July 2023
Herefordshire announced a long-term partnership with Leeds City Council as part of the children’s services improvement programme. Leeds are the country’s leading children’s services teams and are rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. They have a strong track record of working with a growing number of local authorities to help improve their services. The move is a significant development in Herefordshire’s children’s services improvement programme and our Leeds colleagues have been warmly welcomed by staff.
14 June 2023
The council published feedback from the first Ofsted monitoring visit of Herefordshire Council’s children’s services, since being judged inadequate in September 2022. The visit took place on 29 and 30 March 2023, and focused on the ‘front-door’ to the service. The findings of the visit can be found here. The council’s response to the feedback can be viewed here.
6 June 2023
A report was published by an independent ‘Families Commission’ following meetings with families that had previous and current experience of Herefordshire Children’s Services. The panel was commissioned jointly by the Children’s Commissioner, Eleanor Brazil, the Herefordshire Safeguarding Children Partnership and Herefordshire Council, and comprised of three appropriately qualified and experienced independent professionals.
1 March 2023
The Children's Commissioner has carried out a full review of Children's Services over a period of three to four months and submitted a report to the Secretary of State on 11 January 2023. The report was published on 1 March 2023. On the same day the Secretary of State published a revised direction on the future of Herefordshire Children's Services. In the decision the Minister, Claire Coutinho MP, agreed to all of the recommendations in the Children's Commissioner's report.
In line with the Commissioner's recommendations Herefordshire Children's Services will remain with the council. The council will continue to work closely with the Children's Commissioner and the Department for Education appointed Improvement Advisor, Gladys Rhodes White OBE, on our improvement programme.
The Commissioner will continue to oversee our improvement programme and she will look to secure a long-term improvement partnership with another Ofsted rated 'Good' or 'Outstanding' neighbouring local authority.
Clear targets have been set that the council must work hard to meet. The Commissioner will determine at three month intervals whether sufficient progress is made. After six months the Commissioner will conduct another full review of our Children's Services. If the level of progression required is not achieved then she will revisit the question whether an alternative delivery model for Herefordshire Children's Services is required.
Significant additional investment has been allocated from council reserves since 2021 to support the improvement work and fund the changes needed to comprehensively transform Herefordshire Children's Services.
Tell us about your experience of Herefordshire's Children's Social Care services
If anyone has concerns about the way they, or someone they know, have been treated by Herefordshire Children's Social Care services, you can contact us on our CareConcerns page or email CareConcerns@herefordshire.gov.uk
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