Meeting documents

Tuesday, 21 July 2009


Return to Agenda


Division(s): All




CABINET – 21 JULY 2009




Report by Head of Service, Children and Families




1.                  This report describes a range of activities underway, within the Children, Young People & Families Directorate, to increase the capacity and improve the quality of children’s social care services to safeguard children.


2.                  This follows the tragic death of ‘Baby Peter’ in Haringey, and the subsequent publication, ‘The Protection of Children: A Progress Report’ written by Lord Laming


3.                  Safeguarding children at risk of harm is an absolute priority for the County Council. It is recognised that safeguarding children is the responsibility of everyone, not just of social workers. Recent Management Seminars, for over 200 of the Council’s managers, emphasised this point.


Lord Laming’s Report


4.                  Lord Laming makes 58 recommendations in his report, including:


·          The establishment of a National Safeguarding Delivery Unit

·          Addressing social care capacity and budgets, including the need to ring-fence budgets for child protection

·          Reviewing the implementation of the Integrated Children’s System, acknowledging it is cumbersome and time-consuming

·          The introduction of new child protection targets

·          The ‘remodelling’ of children’s social work, addressing recruitment and supply, training and multi-disciplinary support and management responsibilities

·          The recruitment of more Health Visitors

·          Improvements to the Ofsted inspection of Serious Case Reviews


5.                  Government has immediately accepted all of the recommendations, and has     published its Action Plan. Key elements include:


·            Briefings and training for all concerned

·            Wholesale revisions to guidance for professionals

·            Revision to the inspection framework to increase the importance of safeguarding in schools

·            Wider roll-out of a national scheme for Newly Qualified Social Workers

·            Improved guidance on supervision practice in social care

·            Changes to the Integrated Children’s System to allow for local flexibility

·            Development of a ‘supply strategy’ for social workers

·            ‘Guidelines’ on caseload management and size

·            Changes to the way Serious Case Reviews are commissioned and conducted by local Safeguarding Children Boards and evaluated by Ofsted

·            The inclusion in local Safeguarding Children Boards, of two lay people and the Lead Member


6.                  Evidence in Oxfordshire suggests the Council and its partners are well-placed to respond to Laming’s recommendations and to implement the necessary actions:


·            The Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board has recently been assessed by DCSF as good and functioning well

·            The Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board is already independently chaired

·            Investment in social work posts has been made year-on-year since 2006

·            Case files, practice, supervision and our child protection conference processes were assessed as at least adequate, with most good and very good, in the 2007 Joint Area Review inspection

·            Action has been taken to address all of the recommendations of the Joint Area Review

·            Recruitment and retention of social workers is better that for statistical neighbours and the regional average

·            A caseload management tool is being implemented across the service to provide ease of comparison within and between teams

·            The County Council has increased its investment in children’s social care to enable 4 new posts to be recruited in 2009-10, with a further 4 in 2010-11. These will be deployed in the Family Support Service, reducing the caseload size across the county by 10-15% each year.

·            A new scheme is in place to provide newly qualified social workers with a level of support, training and mentoring akin to that offered to teachers


Quality Assurance (Annex 1) (download as .doc file)


7.                  The revised Quality Assurance Framework (Annex 1) is designed to ensure that those accountable for the quality of safeguarding services, have the necessary information to judge quality and make improvements.


Financial Implications


8.                  Each of the improvements addressed in this report will be delivered within the funding already agreed by the County Council for additional investment in children’s social care and safeguarding services.


9.                  The funding for the Newly Qualified Social Worker programme is for one year. It is hoped that Government funding will support this in the future.




10.             The Cabinet is RECOMMENDED to:


(a)               note the content of the report, including the increased County Council investment;


(b)              approve the proposed framework for providing Quality Assurance of the Council’s Safeguarding and Child Protection activity





Head of Service, Children and Families


Background papers: Annex 1


Contact Officer:         Andy Couldrick, Tel: (01865) 815833


July 2009


Return to TOP