FCYP and SPI Summer 2015 Update

A joint meeting of the Standards, Performance & Inspection and the Families, Communities & Young People Policy Committees was held on Tuesday 12 May.

The first item on the agenda was a detailed discussion around the ‘Prevent’ agenda which centred on how authorities can work more closely with schools and communities in the identification of children, young people and families at risk of radicalisation. Some of the issues touched upon included the challenges of sharing intelligence between agencies, particularly counter-terrorism police, managing the media, the safety of staff and unregistered, independent and supplementary schools. It was agreed that ADCS would develop a briefing note on radicalisation and establish a repository of useful resources on the ADCS website.

Dez Holmes from Research in Practice ran through the findings of a recent study, commissioned by the Local Government Association, on local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs). Some areas of common concern identified during the study include the challenges of engaging with fragmented partner agencies including health and schools, and growing pressures on resources. Findings were not absolute but colleagues agreed that there had been ‘expectation creep’ from the government and others which needs to be resolved in order to ensure the right accountability mechanisms and resourcing is in place to be effective.

Building on the Association’s recently published alternative proposal for the inspection of children’s services the group discussed multi-agency inspection. Ofsted’s current Single Inspection Framework (SIF) is not leading to improvement; the process overwhelms authorities and fails to take into account the contributions other public agencies make in keeping children and young people safe. The committees discussed the use of judgements and agreed that inspection should complement sector-led improvement work.

Two representatives from HMI Probation then joined the group to discuss the development of a new outcomes focussed inspection framework which takes a broader and more rounded approach, providing a more interactive feedback process in addition to a judgement. The inspection will follow on from the joint-inspection currently in development and will be shorter and delivered on a risk-basis. Implementation is due in 2016 for adult services and children and young people’s inspection will follow at a later date.

The ADCS family justice lead then led an interesting debate on how best to use local Family Justice Boards to discuss difficult cases or trends and encourage more robust challenge to courts. Colleagues shared examples of where they had used data analysis and/or research to challenge notions of what was good for children, such as use of mother and baby units or contact arrangements.

There was a subsequent discussion about SGOs in light of the upcoming DfE review, and colleagues discussed the changing pattern of use and the incomplete of picture about breakdown and outcomes. Some public narratives around SGOs, including the idea that they are cheaper alternative to adoption, are both incorrect and unhelpful. Colleagues also noted some regional adoption boards are already looking at other orders in a bid to move to a view on permanence, rather than solely adoption.

Finally, it was noted that the DfE have committed to exploring how a national role in commissioning for secure children’s homes would work in practice with two workshops with ADCS, YJB, Ofsted and provider reps planned to take place over the summer months to explore different options. ADCS is clear this must involve NHS England at an appropriate point to consider crossover with Tier 4 CAMHS.



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