Agenda and minutes
Venue: Herefordshire Council Offices, Plough Lane, Hereford, HR4 0LE
Contact: Matthew Evans, Democratic Services
Link: Watch this meeting live on the Herefordshire Council Youtube Channel
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Bartrum, Harvey, Howells, Graham Jones, Millmore, Phillips, Rone, Shaw, Stone, Tyler and Watson.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
To receive any declarations of interest by Members in respect of items on the Agenda.
There were no declarations of interest.
QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC PDF 210 KB
To receive questions from members of the public.
A copy of the public questions and written answers, together with supplementary questions asked at the meeting and their answers, is attached to the Minutes at Appendix 1.
QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL PDF 10 KB
To receive any written questions from members of the Council.
A copy of the Member questions and written answers, together with supplementary questions asked at the meeting and their answers, is attached to the Minutes at Appendix 2.
INSPECTION OF HEREFORDSHIRE CHILDREN'S SERVICES PDF 247 KB
To present the recently published report detailing the findings of the inspection by Ofsted inspectors of Herefordshire Council children’s services in July 2022 and to outline both the action taken immediately and since the inspection to address some of the concerns raised, and the implications of the Statutory Direction issued by the Secretary of State.
Council received and noted a report from the cabinet member children and families to present the recently published report detailing the findings of the inspection by Ofsted inspectors of Herefordshire Council children's services in July 2022 and to outline both the action taken immediately and since the inspection to address some of the concerns raised, and the implications of the statutory direction issued by the Secretary of State.
The cabinet member children and families proposed and introduced the report. In introducing the report the cabinet member raised the principal points below:
· The outcome of the Ofsted inspection report was to conclude that the overall effectiveness of children’s services was inadequate. That judgement was accepted and it was acknowledged that the judgement was a criticism not only of children’s services but also the whole council.
· The judgement was a significant concern to all associated with the council and an apology was provided to all those children and families who had not received the support they required when they needed it. The families posing questions at the meetings should be directed towards the record of questions and answers after the meeting and there was an open invitation to all families to make contact with cabinet member directly.
· The department for education had appointed Eleanor Brazil as the commissioner for children’s services in Herefordshire.
· Over the course of the past year the chief executive and director of children’s services had been very open in their assessment of the challenges that they face in achieving improvement in children’s services. It was understood that the council was not sufficiently advanced on its improvement journey but the strength of the Ofsted judgement was a shock with conclusions that poor practice, drift and delay, the impact of staff turnover and a lack of management grip existed in children’s services.
· A significant concern was the risk posed due to a lack of coordination between local agencies. Since the judgement, immediate action had been taken. The multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) and other frontline children’s services had been strengthened by increasing capacity and resource. Senior leaders of all agencies had met and reviewed all cases where children were at risk.
· Staff from children’s services have been open and co-operative with Ofsted and the inspectors had acknowledged their dedication.
· The inspectors had also welcomed the permanent leadership team that was in place which was having a significant impact.
· Partnerships and multi-agency arrangements were mentioned in three of the nine key areas for improvement. All issues identified in the judgement do not lie solely in children’s services at the council.
· The areas identified for improvement were broad and quite general. This indicates that the fundamental systems and processes that should have existed in children’s services were not in place.
· Progress had been achieved recently with the recruitment of more social workers, the strengthening of the MASH, increased supervision and reduced case-loads for social workers.
· The opportunity for effective improvements to be made must now be seized by the council.
The leader of ... view the full minutes text for item 27.