Agenda item

Children's Service Quarter 3 Performance 2020-2021

To enable Members to review and assess the performance of Children’s Services.

Minutes:

The Chairperson welcomed Councillor Graham Hinchey (Cabinet Member for Children and Families) and Deborah Driffield (Director, Children’s Services) to the meeting to present the report. 

 

Councillor Hinchey was invited to make a statement in which he confirmed that the report refers to a period from the end of restart phase, through the firebreak and through to the start of the second full lock down in December. 

 

The Chairperson invited questions and comments from Members.

 

·          

Members sought clarification in respect of the difference between the family help team and the support for families team.  The Director advised that Early Help Service is an umbrella for a number of services; The Gateway and Family Support.  Those services are pre-statutory and do not sit with within Children’s Services and referrals can be made by other organisations.  Support For Families is a services that does sit under Children’s Services, but it is also pre-statutory and people can enter voluntarily agree to have support from that service.

 

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Members queried the information supplied, namely the percentage of children placed in regulated placements in Cardiff and sought information in relation to those targets and why the percentage of those placed in Cardiff was reduced. The Director advised that the targets were reduced slightly because there was an incentive;   when considering regulated placements in and outside of Cardiff the numbers for those being placed out of Cardiff was increasing because more and more children were being placed with kinship and family.  Our aim is to shift balance so that more children are living with family and friends and also to make sure children are not placed in residential placements outside of area.

 

Members asked for the information to be added to the Chart included with the report.

 

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Members queried the reference to the Social Worker vacancy target being 24% and the Social Worker vacancy 28.2 percent and asked for clarification of those figures. Members were advised that the aim is to reduce the vacancies, which are covered currently by agency staff.  Currently the figure is 27%, 24% is the goal.

 

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Members requested information regarding identification likely to create a spike in Child Protection referrals when children and young people are back in the school system and how the system is geared up to cope with that increased demand.

 

The Director advised that there has been a huge increase in demand across the board.  The figures do show this, it is predominantly because we have not been able to work in partnership during Covid, lots of the services have not been open.  There has not been any scope to safely carry out Progression Plans in order to deregister children.  People have quite rightly been taking a precautionary approach.   Temporary funding from Welsh Government has allowed us to employ Social Work Assistants to support the Social Workers.  4 teams have been created in the localities as demand was so great.  It had been hoped to employ some Adult Social Workers, Substance Misuse Workers, and Domestic Abuse Workers.  They will be important in working with the parents.  There has also been a big change in the Court work; do not got to Court unless the Authority wants the child or children removed from their family.  As a result there will be a shift in the work force with the aim is to progress multi-disciplinary teams to wrap around the family.

 

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Members referred to Staff sickness absence and the difference between those in Children’s and Adult Services, which has crept up above 13% again. Adult Service is about 8 – 8.5%. The Director advised that there was an increase during the last quarter, but the figure is now back within target going into the next quarter.  Sickness absence is monitored closely; there are not many people on long term sick but it has been impacted by Covid and those who have had underlying health conditions.

  Not many people on long term sick.  Having Covid has impacted but it has also not helped with underlying health condition. 

 

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Members queried the increased budget for Children’s Services this year and the increased resources, and whether that is sufficient to meet in demand.  Members were advised that there has been increased demand over the last 9 months; it is hoped that demand will not continue to rise.  The increase in resources means that we can link into performance reporting and the focus will be on shifting some of the budget out of residential and fostering and kinship which could help give families some additional financial help to support their own children.

 

RESOLVED – That the Chairperson writes to the Cabinet Member on behalf of the Committee expressing their comments and observations during the Way Forward.

 

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