13th March 2018
Children's services in Powys are improving but there is more work to do, the county council's cabinet was told today.
The cabinet was told that, at the end of February, an independent Improvement Board had reported significant progress in putting the necessary infrastructure in place. It now has stronger leadership, finance and performance management.
There were also early signs of progress in staff recruitment and of improvement in social work practice. However, further substantial work remains in this area. Quality social work practice is key to improving the service and delivering the outcomes set out in the council's Improvement plan for children's services.
The plan outlines well the priority actions needed, including an overall focus on the rights of the child. The plan identifies areas where investment is required to support best practice and safeguard children. The Budget for 2018/19, agreed by Council on 22nd February, includes investment of £6.172 million for children's services. This represents a 47 per cent increase.
Cabinet Member for Children's Services, Councillor Rachel Powell said:
"A media report over the weekend claiming that the service was unstainable due to staffing issues was inaccurate and based on historic data covering a period from October to December 2017.
"Current information shows that children's services have a staffing complement of 360. Itis made up of 88 per cent permanent or fixed term posts and the remainder are agency or casual staff. Most of them were brought in to support front line service delivery following an inspection last year. In February, 15 staff were absent because of sickness, with the loss of 108 working days.
"Children's services are a corporate priority and our recovery plans have been accepted by Care Inspectorate Wales and Welsh Government. We have an Improvement Board and they are reporting improvements while accepting there is much work to do.
"They report very early signs of improvement in social work practice, such as timescales for the completion of assessments, frequency of statutory visits and direct work with young people. However, it is the case that further substantial work remains in this area.
"We know there is work to do but we are committed to driving forward and delivering the standard of service our families need," she added.