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Powys blasted over children’s services

 
Created on 17/10/2017 @ 12:55
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Powys County Council has been blasted following a damning report over the services it provides to children and young people, with its leadership and management particularly in the firing line.

The report, published today, finds a number of serious concerns and says that children and young people are not well served by the current arrangements for accessing support services in the county. 

In particular, significant changes to leadership and management arrangements in children’s services, with only interim appointments in place, has disrupted the workforce and as a result the service provided to children and their families.

A lack of assessment, care and support planning combined with an inconsistent approach to working in line with the child sexual exploitation guidance and the management of sexual exploitation and risk assessment framework process placed children at risk of harm.

In addition, child protection processes did not always comply with statutory guidance with delays in investigations and assessments being undertaken and completion of statutory visits.

The report, carried out by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CCSIW), shows that staff have shown commitment, resilience and professionalism whilst coping with significant changes in leadership and management. However, there are serious performance issues with front line services arising from instability in management, poor and confused direction and weak governance.

“Without effective support and capacity to undertake the work, frontline staff cannot be expected to undertake the complex work required in children’s social services,” the reports states.

Powys County Council is expected to produce an improvement plan in response to the recommendations in this report within 20 working days of publication today. This plan will be closely monitored as part of our programme of inspection, engagement and performance review.

Chief Inspector, Gillian Baranski said: “It is clear from this report that we have serious concerns about the way children’s services are run by Powys County Council.

“Whilst we have recognised the significant contribution staff have made under very difficult circumstances, we have serious concerns about leadership and management arrangements.

“We have made this clear to Powys County Council and expect to see rapid improvement to ensure that children are safeguarded and families in Powys receive the level of service they deserve. We are monitoring this closely.”

In response, Powys County Council said that the recommendations have been accepted by the county council.

“We fully accept the regulators recommendations, their report is both hard hitting and challenging. We are sorry that we failed to meet the high standards residents deserve and apologise for our shortcomings,” said Council Leader Councillor Rosemarie Harris.

“The council is totally committed to safe-guarding children in our county, and I will be leading the council’s response to the recommendations of the inspection from the front as a top priority and that ensuring that the resources are in place to underpin this work.

“We fully understand the challenges facing the service and have already taken action to strengthen key areas and to review areas of concern. We are committing additional resources to meet the future needs of the service and have in place a detailed action plan to ensure that the necessary improvements are delivered as a matter of priority.

“A great deal of work has already taken place. Changes were made to senior staff within the Council and immediate steps to strengthen the service were implemented rather than wait for the final publication of the report.  Subsequently very serious concerns have emerged in respect of the disclosure of information and production of data within the service which are now subject to a formal investigation.”

The Council’s full response to the report and the action it intends to take can be found here: http://www.powys.gov.uk/en/communications/view-council-news/news-article/article/5038-childrens-services-inspection-report/

The full CCSIW report and its recommendations can be found here: http://cssiw.org.uk/our-reports/local-authority-report/2017/171017-childrens-services-powys/?lang=en

 

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