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Council has to rebuild confidence as a social service provider

 
Created on 04/02/2019 @ 19:19
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By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

Rebuilding the confidence in Powys as a social services provider is a starting point for its “journey to excellence," councillors have been told.

Having good leadership in place will help drive the necessary change, councillors said in a meeting yesterday scrutinising the recent Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) report on Children’s Services.

There, councillors were taken through the report, published y by CIW lead inspector, Denise Moultrie.

She and her team had inspected the department in October 2018 and noted: “significant improvements” since the damning report of October 2017. But they still had “serious concerns”.

Plaid Cymru Group Leader, Elwyn Vaughan (Glantwymyn), said: “In acknowledging the improvement since the original inspection, there’s a saying in Welsh, nid da lle gellir gwell (could do better), which is always good to bear in mind.

“To put things in context I live on the Powys border with the Gwynedd and Ceredigion.”

Cllr Vaughan went on to read from a glowing report on Children’s Services in Gwynedd from August last year.

Cllr Vaughan added: “When you compare that with the contents of the Powys one, it perhaps highlights the difference.

“The question I have is: why on one side of the Dyfi River do you have a certain standard and quite a different standard on the other?

“Wales is not all that big, we should have a seamless sort of approach?”

“The other thing that strikes me, the cost of Looked after Children (LAC) in Powys is £49, 929 and in Gwynedd it’s £34, 822 last year.”

Denis Moultrie answered: “It shows you that there’s huge variety in the quality of practice across Wales.

“I think that is down to leadership at all levels, in terms of determining that the consistent good quality of services are given sufficient oversight.

“Until now you have had in Powys a lot of turnover at senior levels and that doesn’t help strategic visions.

“Big things like restructuring or remodelling services and changing culture.

“These big shifts have to be the whole organisation, from the top, and needs to be very clearly led.”

“That is a difference between social services that work effectively and well for children and where they don’t offer such quality services.”

Last year in the wake of the critical report, a new director of Social Services, Ali Bulman and a head of Children’s Services, Jan Cole’s, director of Social Services were appointed.

Ali Bulman, added: “For me, it’s about recognising where we are on our improvement journey in Powys.

“This is about rebuilding the confidence in Powys as a provider of Social Services but also as a partner in the whole system approach (with health and education).

“Where we are is very reflective of where we have been and our aspirations on moving forward on our journey to excellence.”

In their last report CIW has given PCC four priority areas for improvement:

Ensure there is a clear strategic vision to deliver a seamless service and further develop collaborative working with health, education and the third sector to benefit children and families.

Develop better commissioning arrangements to ensure appropriate placements for children who are looked after. This includes improving choice of placements, reducing the numbers of children placed in an emergency and placed without agreed educational provision.

Ensure early multi-agency involvement in safeguarding and ensure an immediate response to children at risk of sexual exploitation.

Ensure the investigation of complaints are thorough and in accordance with Welsh Government guidelines.

The CIW has said it will return again next year to inspect the service again.

 

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