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Children’s Services improvement plan revealed

Created on 04/02/2019 @ 09:38
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By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

Details of the plan that will improve the under-fire Children’s Services at Powys County Council will be discussed with Councillors.

The Health, Care and Housing Scrutiny Committee of Powys County Council will discuss the the report by Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) published last month.

As part of the meeting councillors will also be told of the improvement plan which needs to be submitted to CIW within 20 working days of the publication of the inspection report.

Head of Children’s Services, Jan Coles, who took over at the troubled department in October 2018, is expected to explain her plan to improve the service over the next three years.

Ms Coles said: “The plan makes clear how we can all help to improve services for children and families.

“It will continue to build on the strengths of staff, get support from the whole council and work with partners and communities across the county. The plan has been developed by all the parts of the council working together.

“The Regional Partnership Board and Regional Safeguarding Board (CYSUR) will also play a big part in making the changes happen.”

The plan has seven strands including Commissioning and Placement and Workforce.

Part of the work will be to reduce the number of children (looked after) placed outside of Powys, and increase the percentage of children placed closer to home.

A huge problem for the department has been its reliance on agency staff which has proved a huge financial burden. The plan sets out how this is supposed to change.

They now hope to strengthen university links for social work students and review the arrangements of sponsoring workers through their social work degree.

This could see more employees supported to complete their training and more students completing placements in Powys, which could increase the number of recruits.

Ms Coles also intends exploring the option of developing a “social work academy in Powys”.

In October 2017, the Care and Social Services inspectorate Wales (CSSIW), now known as the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW), produced a damning inspection report into PCC’s Children’s Services department.

This revealed missed opportunities to safeguard children, poor risk assessment and serious performance issues with front line services.

In January 2018, the CIW gave the council a warning letter after a follow up visit to the authority. A year later, they published another critical report following an inspection in October 2018.

Following the first report in 2017, £6 million was pumped into the department to turn things around. Another £6 million has since been added to that.

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