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Friday, 20 October 2017

Inspectors call for urgent improvement at Powys children's services

Written by The Editorial Team

The Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) has called for urgent improvement after inspectors found a number of serious concerns following an inspection of Powys County Council children’s services in July 2017.

The inspection report, published this week, found that children and young people were not well-served by the current arrangements for accessing support services in the area. 

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.

Inspectors pointed to 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.

CSSIW also found that staff have shown commitment, resilience and professionalism whilst coping with significant changes in leadership and management. However, there were 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 could not be expected to undertake the complex work required in children’s social services.

Since the inspection, CSSIW say they have been in close discussion with the chief executive and senior officers at the council to ensure urgent action is taken to improve the situation.

The council is expected to produce an improvement plan in response to the recommendations in this report within 20 working days.

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."

The recommendations of the inspection have been accepted by the council.

Council Leader Councillor Rosemarie Harris, said: “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."