Agenda item

Scrutiny Review into Statutory Care Plans

The Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 3 July, 2019 has referred the Scrutiny Review into Statutory Care Plans to Cabinet for consideration.


Councillor Tom Usher, who had chaired the Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee at the time when the Statutory Care Plans Scrutiny Review had been carried out, presented a report which set out the findings and recommendations emanating from it.  The Review had been undertaken to consider criticism about Care Plans in general and had met with social workers, young people, partner agencies and housing providers. The Cabinet noted that the Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee had considered the report at its meeting on 3 July 2019 and had supported its content and referred it to the Cabinet for consideration. 


Councillor Usher informed that a number of recommendations had been made to the appropriate Cabinet Member who now happened to be himself. He reported that in 2016 when Children’s Services were deemed to be inadequate by Ofsted, there had been a need to focus on the quality of care planning and make improvements at pace. Consequently, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee had set about completing a major piece of work that had run parallel to the improvement journey.  It took over ten months to complete.


In 2016 Ofsted had identified that case recording was sometimes poor and good practice standards had not been communicated clearly.  Overview and Scrutiny Members had spoken to thirty professionals who had been involved in the lives of children in care and who had a part to play in the effectiveness of these care plans. These included foster carers and service users.  Members had also spoken to young people about their experience of being in care. The Review had been purposely long which meant that Members had seen a lot of improvements being made before they had actually got to the end of the review process.


Councillor Usher reported that in 2019 Ofsted had found that care had improved in all areas.  With regard to care planning Ofsted had stated that children in care now benefited from stronger systems and that care planning meetings were held regularly and supported the progress. There had been a shift in the care quality.  However, there had been, in total, nineteen recommendations set out in the report and he was minded to accept all of them.  There were a substantial amount of issues that required improvement.


Councillor Usher thanked all of the professionals and especially the Children in Care Council who had given up their time to help Members pick out some issues with the care planning process so that improvements could be made quickly.


Councillor Anita Leech commented that there appeared to have been a great deal of work gone into the Scrutiny Review and the resulting report was very good.


Councillor Janette Williamson thanked Councillor Usher for the work he had carried out in respect of the Scrutiny Review: she also thanked his predecessor, former Councillor Bernie Mooney and the Director of Children’s Services for their contributions.

Councillor Williamson was of the view that Children’s Services had performed exceptionally well to make the necessary progress and she was pleased to see that the recommendations were being accepted by the current Portfolio Holder. She asked Councillor Usher to provide the Cabinet with regular progress updates as they would be very helpful.


Councillor Usher responded by informing that measuring the recommendations was very important and that he would welcome further scrutiny at an appropriate time to ascertain exactly what progress had been made. There had been progress or completion in respect of almost all of the recommendations so far. One example was with the recommendation that ‘steps should be taken to ensure foster carers are treated professionally’.  Councillor Usher reported that the training and the support offer for Wirral’s foster carers had been revamped and there had been quite a substantial increase in the number of people registering as foster carers.  This was being taken as a sign of the improvements being made. 




That the contents and recommendations of the Scrutiny Report, ‘Statutory Care Plans’ be supported.

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