Quarterly Corporate Performance Monitoring Report Quarter 1 2018/19
Decision Maker: Cabinet Committee on Performance Improvement
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Performance overview report
A report was presented by Donna Talbot, Head of Service, Business Intelligence, providing an overview of performance activity across the council for Quarter 1 of 2018/19.
Education and Children's Services
It was reported that the number of looked after children had continued to increase both in Lancashire and regionally with over 2,000 looked after children in Lancashire. This was a real concern and various ways of reducing this figure were currently being looked at including looking at those children on Care Orders and the possible revocation of these, and ways in which we could prevent children coming into care, through a successful Life Chances Fund bid. There were rising numbers of children looked after in Preston and Burnley so these were the priority areas. In response to a query from County Councillor Driver, Sally Allen, Head of Safeguarding, Inspection and Audit, agreed to find out why numbers had risen in these areas.
There had also been a rise in the number of referrals from the Police: County Councillor Driver queried whether this should be raised through the Children's Services Improvement Board.
The Cabinet Committee noted that retention rates for newly qualified social workers had continued to improve.
The adoption service had been rated Good in the recent Ofsted re-inspection. The average time between a child entering care and being placed with their adoptive family had continued to improve. Sally Allen confirmed that, when looking to place children, the county council also looked at prospective adopters who had registered with independent adoption agencies. Lancashire was also successful at finding permanent homes for hard to place children.
It was reported that permanent exclusions in all schools were increasing and that rates in Lancashire were higher than regional and national comparators; John Readman was currently looking into this issue.
Adult Services and Public Health
The Cabinet Committee noted there were still concerns about the level of permanent residential admissions for older people and that various options were being considered to reduce this figure. It was reported that Chorley Council was currently developing Primrose Gardens Extra Care Scheme, consisting of apartments for 55s and over, enabling them to live independently whilst providing onsite staff, planned care for those with an eligible care need and shared communal areas including a café and hairdressing salon. A similar project in Burnley was currently being looked into.
Troubled Families Unit
There was a discussion about the government term 'Troubled Families Unit'. The Cabinet recommended that, for Lancashire, the programme should instead be called the Supporting Families Unit.
Ofsted Post Inspection Update
Sally Allen, Head of Safeguarding, Inspection and Audit, reported that the Inspectors had recognised the significant improvements made since their last inspection, and that the overall effectiveness judgement was Requires Improvement. The county council had been described as a committed and responsible Corporate Parent and strong partnerships had been referred to throughout the report, together with positive participation and engagement from children and young people.
One of the areas for improvement was that further work was required to improve the educational attainment of children looked after at Key Stage 4. The report also identified that, whilst there was a high number of care leavers age 16 and 17 in education, employment or training, these numbers reduced through the ages of 19 to 21. County Councillor Driver stated that we needed to know why this was happening.
The Adoption Service was judged to be a strength and the report stated that leadership and governance was increasingly effective, and that strategic plans were now better aligned and partnerships with key agencies were working more effectively.
The report noted that further work with partners was required to improve our response to children and families affected by domestic abuse. The Committee were informed that a Domestic Abuse Task Group had also been established.
The Cabinet Committee noted that care leavers had a positive and confident view of the local authority as a corporate parent, and appreciated the higher profile they now had.
It was reported that a new Children's Services Improvement Plan was scheduled to be considered by Cabinet in November which would address the 11 recommendations of the inspection.
A link to the full inspection report was provided for the information of the Cabinet Committee.
County Councillor Driver wished to place on record his thanks to all staff involved with the inspection for all their hard work.
Resolved: That the Cabinet Committee on Performance Improvement note the reported performance for quarter 1 of 2018/19 and the Children's Services inspection update information provided.
Report author: Michael Walder
Date of decision: 04/10/2018
Decided at meeting: 04/10/2018 - Cabinet Committee on Performance Improvement