Child Protection Activity and Performance
- Meeting of Early Years, Children and Youth Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel, Monday, 19th March, 2012 4.30 pm (Item 74.)
Further to the Panel’s discussion of the Local Safeguarding Children Board Annual Report 2010/11 and Work Programme for 2012/13, this report details progress in respect of the key indicators of child protection activity as reported in that Annual Report. The report details the position at the end of the third quarter of 2011/12.
The People & Communities Strategic Director introduced this item to the Panel. He informed them that he was in talks with the Improvement and Performance team with regard to developing some local indicators for this work area.
He then wished to highlight some of the key facts within the report.
· There was a steady increase in the number of children with protection plans throughout 2010/11 with a marked increase in the final quarter – 106 represented the highest number since the late 1990’s. The Children’s Service investigated this position and determined that the increase has been the result of a combination of factors (the complexity of new cases and risks being identified: cases where long standing but low level concerns have increased to become risks of significant harm: the quality of some assessments and multi-agency evaluations of the risk of harm resulting in cautious decisions about the need for some protection plans) – and took actions to address these factors which have resulted in an appropriate reduction in the number of children with protection plans and more children in need plans – whilst ensuring that protection plans are in place for all who require them.
· Child Protection Plans lasting two years or more (NI 64)
The improvement noted throughout 2010/11 (which resulted in the end of year figure being only slightly off target), has been maintained and is on target for 2011/12. It must be noted that these percentages represent a small number of children and families. We have processes in place to review the circumstances of each child. Each child protection plan is reviewed by a multi-agency case conference, and the decision to continue with child protection plans quality assured by the LSCB’s Safeguarding Children Sub Committee.
· Children becoming subject to a child protection plan for a second or subsequent time (NI 65)
Our performance in this area had been strong for a number of years – exceeding both the national and family of Local Authorities’ performance. As noted in previous reports, performance throughout 2010/11 was however off target (and above national and comparator positions). Gradual improvements have been achieved throughout the first three quarters of 2011/12 and it is now possible that the end of year target will be achieved. We are now closer to the level of comparator authorities. Absolute numbers are small but performance did raise questions about the overall effectiveness of the services provided by agencies at the conclusion of child protection plans to prevent risks from re-emerging. Ensuring that these are in place and consistently accessed by families is central to the re-design of Children’s Social Care Service currently underway and has been reported to the LSCB. This should effect further improvements in the longer term.
· Child protection cases which were reviewed within timescales (NI 67)
Our performance is 100% and has been for the past eight years. Although this indicator is no longer part of the National Indicator set for safeguarding, we will continue to monitor this area of performance given its importance in underpinning good and timely planning.
· Initial assessments by Children’s Social Care carried out within ten working days of referral (NI 59) – (previously seven working days)
The percentage of referrals that are subsequently taken forward to Initial Assessment has risen from 35% in 2008-9 to 74% in 2011-12. This means that the service carried out 400 Initial Assessments in 2008-9 compared to a projected figure of 1295 Initial Assessments in 2011-12. This is a three-fold increase in Initial Assessment workload with only three additional posts added to the social work workforce during this period. Sustaining this level of performance and also improving quality of work cannot be fully disassociated from the level of resource available to carry out this work.
Councillor Liz Hardman asked if he felt he had enough resources to continue this level of work.
The People & Communities Strategic Director replied that that was a difficult question to answer, but he believed that all posts were currently deployed to best effect.
The Panel RESOLVED to:
(i) Note the report and the actions being taken in respect of the reported performance.
(ii) Request further performance reports from the Chair of the Local Safeguarding Children Board in order to maintain an overview of the Council, and partner agencies’, child protection activity and performance.