To consider a report by the Executive Director for People - Children, Dorset Council.
The Board considered a report by the Executive Director of People - Children, Dorset Council, which set out actions for them to monitor resulting from recommendations by the Local Government Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO).
It was explained that the LGSCO had a significant number of concerns about Dorset County Council's offer for Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) and Education Health Care Plans (EHCP) in 2018. Dorset Council had to respond to the LGSCO's recommendations and when the report had been considered by the Cabinet it had asked the Board to monitor progress. Good progress had been made within the first month, but EHCP involved partnership working, not just the local authority, and this needed to be improved if the offer to children and young people with SEND needs was to be successful.
Members noted that this was not the first time that services had been criticised for not working as well as they could for children and that children's services had not had a high enough profile at Board meetings to date. They also noted that there had been difficulties in getting appropriate officers to attend joint commissioning meetings and the Board's strategic role could help address the system's challenges in order to get the right provision in place for children and young people with SEND needs.
It was recognised that sometimes EHCPs could be held up by the lack of a confirmed diagnosis and, that although the local authority was meeting its statutory deadlines, it was hoped that the process could be quickened and engagement with families improved. Although the local authority was the agent responsible for co-ordinating EHCP assessments, partners' role to help improve the system was recognised.
In order to get shared responsibility for the EHCP process, it was agreed that the Director of Public Health would share the outcomes of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment panel for children with SEND in BCP Council with colleagues in children’s services. This would inform the local work in Dorset to improve joint working and how this was developing. The Executive Director for People - Children would arrange for this to include progress with the LGSCOs recommendations. Members were asked to ensure that their organisations were engaged in this process, and to ensure that the role of partners in improving outcomes for children was highlighted.
Attention was drawn to the Board's statutory responsibility for young people up to the age of 25, and that currently 170 children aged 16-18 and 600 children aged 12-14 had EHCPs. The system needed to change in order to be able to meet this significant need and the increasing number of children with EHCPs. Early intervention might reduce costs in the longer term.
With regard to the Chief Constable's offer to progress data sharing across organisations, the Assistant Chief Constable and Fire Service representative would meet outside of the meeting to progress this.
1. That the action taken since receipt of the Local Government and Social
Care Ombudsman’s report (18 016 599) be noted and the response to the
Ombudsman’s ten recommendations be monitored.
2. That the actions identified by the Director of People - Children in
response to the Ombudsman’s recommendations be monitored.
3. That a review of the agreed actions arising from the eight previous
investigations of Dorset County Council undertaken by the Ombudsman be received.
4. That the Director of Public Health share the findings of the BCP JSNA panel on SEND with a view to undertaking similar work for Dorset Council and system partners. This should highlight the role of partners in improving outcomes for children.
5. That the Executive Director for People - Children, would provide an update on the LGSCO's recommendations for inclusion in the above report.