The committee received an update on the child protection plan increase in numbers from the council’s assistant director children's safeguarding, children's and adults' services.
The following key issues were identified to account for the increase in figures from April 2016 to September (when numbers started to decline) as follows:
· Some children of families at this time in the process of court proceedings were not on a ‘plan’ and the practice and processes were changed in part attributing for an increase in figures
· Increase of children in the older age group, youth violence and the issue of child sexual exploitation (CSE) on a plan
· Increase in number of re-registrations. This may have been due to a change of circumstances of the child and their family
· Cases going to court that did not result in orders requested or a breakdown in the special guardianship order (SGO)
· Step down from case too early
· Pre-birth work.
In addition to adjustment to practice and processes that resulted in an increase, the council have put in place the following:
· A robust system with more quality assurance. Some of these measures have included a support and challenge panel chaired by the head of social work improvement and quality assurance.
· A legal panel (consistent chairing and decision making)
· Workforce development. How social work and partners can constructively challenge and work with families.
Following on this presentation the following key issues were raised by members of the committee:
· Re-registrations. Looking at support and what more can be done to assist families and extended families
· Monitoring of re-registrations
· Looking at possible appeals if legal decisions are not in line with council recommendations
· Officer confirmed work being done on special guardianship orders and strengthening
· Queries raised in respect of support to special guardianship orders (and if similar to support offered to fostering placements)
· Issues of the threshold for physical punishment discussed and cultural factors.
1. That the position statement on the increases in the number of child protection plans as detailed in paragraphs 4 and 5 of the report be noted.
2. That the verbal update provided at the committee accounting for increases as updated at the meeting and summarised above be noted.
3. That the committee receives a report in one year which should also reflect and focus on adolescent numbers (illustrated by the journey of adolescent children in and out of care).
4. That scrutiny may wish to consider looking at early help work at the end of the process.
5. That with regard to special guardianship orders (SGOs) that the committee look at this issue generally and what support is offered to children and families.