To receive a presentation from the Executive Director for People, Children in respect of the People Services – Children – Transformation Programme.
The Executive Director for People – Children, gave a presentation to the committee which provided an overview of the directorate’s transformation programme ‘Blueprint for Change’. The presentation covered the council’s vision for children, design principles for the whole council and for Children’s Services, the programme timeline, an overview of the major changes proposed and the localities for the service. The Portfolio Holder for Children, Education and Early Help hoped that councillors recognised the steps taken in this area including recruitment of officers at a senior level and work undertaken around the corporate parenting board. The Chairman noted that it was important for the committee to receive the presentation in order to have an understanding of the background when they were considering financial information in this area.
The committee considered the issues arising from the presentation and during discussion the following points were raised:
· A point was raised about the importance to a child or young person of having the continuity of contact with one social worker. In response it was noted that it may not always be possible to avoid the need to change social workers however, consideration was being given to the systems available to and support provided to social workers in order to retain officers in this area
· In response to a point raised about the transition of young people into adult services, it was recognised that this needed to be a respectful process which considered the important role of parents
· A point was made that there was no reference to access to doctors and dentists, as it was thought that a large proportion of looked after children were not registered with either. In response, the Executive Director referred to work undertaken through the Corporate Parenting Board, working with partners, to aim to ensure that the majority of children were registered
· It was noted that there were two locality bases in the North area as this was the largest area in terms of population and this also took into account school clusters and links to other service areas. This also took into account the amount of travel undertaken by social workers
· In response to a question, the Executive Director provided information on the time availability of youth workers, urgent care teams and social workers
· A discussion was held with regard to the support being provided to staff going through the transformation programme and information was provided on upskilling opportunities, looking at best practice, training for staff and the opportunity that this provided to listen to staff
· The transformation programme aimed to provide £1m of savings through the delivery of services more efficiently
· The presentation made reference to ‘needs not thresholds’ which related to the need to have a conversation when a referral was first made in order to understand what a child’s needs were and who would be best to meet them. There was a need for ownership from the person making the referral
· The presentation provided an overview of the work to be undertaken to get the foundations in place and noted that further work would then have to be done. This was not just about the role of Children’s Services, but how the directorate communicated with and worked with many other council services, for example, parks or apprenticeships
· Reference was made to the need to look at an earlier intervention model in terms of success rates and the need to reduce costs
· In response to a comment made about the vision statement, it was explained that children, young people and staff had had an input
· A comment was made as to how Sherborne fitted into the service localities? In response it was reported that work had been undertaken to identify where partners were located and where current asset resources were. It was a priority to get the locality teams together so that work could continue, however it was recognised that further work would need to be done when the asset plan was considered
· The position with staff morale in the service was raised and it was noted that staff were being supported through the process by the leadership. In general good feedback was being received from staff
· It was noted that staff had a voice in the process and they were able to feed in their comments. This was important as they had good knowledge of the children within the service
· The programme included a particular focus on the adolescent service, where a real impact could be made. In addition to supporting all children up until the age of 18, the service had a responsibility for children with special educational needs and looked after children up until they were 25
· The Chairman asked that when the consultation period was completed, for the committee to see the plan for the service moving forward. The Chairman also requested that user numbers for Children’s Services be included in the quarterly report produced for Cabinet.