Yorkshire & Humber Region Update December 2018

Work Plan

The 2018 regional work plan for sector-led improvement emphasises:

  • Greater rigour and accountability
  • Greater join up of regional processes, systems and structures
  • Focus on a few key regional issues in depth
  • Coherent support for individual LAs where needs are greatest.

All DCSs have signed the 2018 SLI Memorandum of Understanding which emphasises the above and clarifies the expectations of each and all LAs in their support of SLI activities.

Self-Assessment

Our annual self-assessment process is now in its seventh iteration. Each year it is enhanced. In 2018 it has been further refined to include new signatures of risk and to be ILACS compliant. LAs will complete their submissions in December and take part in a challenge event in January 2019 as a result of which we will produce a regional capacity index.

Regional Priorities

Annual self-assessment outputs include a regional capacity index highlighting relative strengths and areas for development. The three key areas for development in 2018 are being addressed as systems issues and are being pump primed with a ‘Directors Fund’ which is accessed by bids. The themes are: quality and sufficiency of placements; outcomes for vulnerable groups (attendance/exclusions/EHE) and, KS1/2. All three have project plans in place. Work continues on the three regional priorities with regular reports to lead members and DCSs.

Peer Challenge

34 LA/LSCB children’s services peer challenges have been completed (as of 30 October 2018). Whilst the ‘core’ three-day peer challenge business process remains at the centre of peer challenge activity, various new peer challenge business processes were developed and piloted in 2017. These have been applied to:

  • JTAI themes
  • SEND (transitions)
  • Domestic violence
  • Children’s mental health: Working closely with CCG commissioners a business process for children’s mental health peer challenge has been developed and is being piloted across two local areas. This was concluded and positively evaluated in November 2018. Mental health commissioners have shown an interest in rolling this out to embrace STP footprints.

A self-assessment schedule has been constructed for new multi-agency safeguarding arrangements which reflects the expectations of Working Together. A peer challenge for this process has also been developed, but not yet applied.

Leadership Development

Our Senior and Aspirant Leaders Programmes have supported the development of over 500 managers over a six-year period. Programmes for 2018 have now been completed with exceptionally positive feedback. We are offering, for the first time, executive coaching to participants from the Senior Leaders Programme. The programme utilises regional expertise that is being developed through an Executive Coaching Programme provided by The Staff College.

Working with Health Education England, we have jointly commissioned a ‘Systems Masterclass’ for leaders in health and LAs (presented and facilitated by Charles Leadbetter). The event was filmed and is available on our CSWM platform. This, our first joint venture with HEE, attracted over 100 participants. Evaluations were positive, and we have now secured access for LA managers to a range of HEE systems workshops and are exploring further collaborative activity on addressing systems issues.

22 senior managers have commenced a four-day ‘Executive Coaching’ programme to develop their individual expertise as coaches and to create a regional pool of coaches who will offer coaching to newly appointed senior managers in the region. We are piloting this model of support with alumni from our most recent senior leaders programme (see above).

Lead Member Network

There is an active lead member network which meets bi-monthly. The network has recently secured some funding from LGA to support further lead member development and is currently co-producing activity with the SLI coordinator and the LGA children’s services regional lead.


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West Midlands Region Update December 2018

Regional Improvement Alliance

  • Self-evaluation and challenge cycle

This year’s self-evaluation cycle is underway. In the light of reflections from previous years, and to strengthen the value of peer challenge activity, there will be a series of peer challenge visits between small groups of LAs commencing in the New Year. Following that, and the identification of strengths and areas for development from moderation processes, a regional showcase and learning event will take place in the spring followed by regional improvement activity.

  • Improvement support

Following the region’s bid for funding, the DfE has confirmed a £300k grant to support the following areas of improvement activity:

  • Resource to release time for people to undertake improvement activities
  • Leadership and management development, including succession planning, coaching and mentoring.

The region is also making good use of Partners in Practice activity with nine out of fourteen local authorities engaging with Partner in Practice to focus on different areas of improvement.

  • System engagement

Governance discussions have identified that the engagement and involvement of chief executives and directors of finance needs strengthening. Through discussions with regional ADASS and DPH colleagues it has been agreed that there is merit in strengthening that engagement through a People focus, rather than each sector having their own event, and reinforcing the lobbying messages. A regional workshop is being developed for the early spring with the support of the LGA.

DCS Residential November 18

The DCS network residential, ‘Managing risk and demand - our people: our places’, sponsored by the LGA, took place at Warwick University on the 27/ 28 November. This is now an established element of the regional improvement work and has been important in the building of a common vision and consensus about improvement and regional opportunities.

The focus this year was on our cross-cutting theme; managing risk and demand; recognising the systems leadership role needed. Assistant directors were involved in some aspects of the programme as part of the succession planning and improvement thinking.

FutureSocial

An agency showcase event took place to focus on permanent staffing. The aim of the event, which involved nine agencies and 14 Councils and Trusts, was to facilitate access to the agencies permanent offerings and to scope the potential for collaborative action. The comments below represent typical responses to the event:

  • From an Agency, “It is an excellent idea to invite agencies in to a presentation of this nature as it really forces us to think about what we offer, how we can do more and where a direct relationship with agencies could be beneficial for organisations in your region. With local authorities under increasing pressure it is refreshing to see them coming to us to see where we can be innovative. It is also incumbent on us to ensure solutions are achievable, cost effective and fulfil an actual need.”
  • From a local authority, “Well done for bringing everyone together. Important for follow up sessions to be arranged asap to keep up the momentum.”.

Migration Fund

Grants have now been released to all 14 local authorities for their work with unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. Funding for the voluntary sector, aimed at creating a sustainable model, will be released in January. The training programme is shaping up.

West Midlands Safe Centre Feasibility Study

The region was successful in securing funding from the DfE to carry out a feasibility study for a new secure unit in the region. A hub and spoke approach is proposed to support young people in times of crisis and step-down arrangements will also be on offer to boost resilience and prevent further crises. If successful, the initial feasibility study will lead into a design phase (2019/20) and then a building phase (2020/21).

Troubled Families Unit

We are working with the Troubled Families Unit to address our conversion from attachments to payment by results. Several authorities have recovery plans and are working hard to rectify the matter.


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South West Region Update December 2018

Self-Assessment Peer Challenge

The self-assessment peer challenge for 2018 will take place on 7 December 2018. The day will be attended by management teams from all the region’s local authorities who will work in triads on their self-assessment position. The self-assessments have now been completed and distributed to allow the necessary preparation for the event. The challenge day will identify regional priorities for sector-led improvement for 2019.

Leadership Summit – 9 January 2019

A leadership summit, to launch the South West Regional Improvement Alliance, will take place in January 2019 for all the region’s local authority chief executives, lead members and directors of children’s services. A Memorandum of Understanding has been circulated with the plan that all local authorities will confirm their agreement by December 2018.

Regional Data Benchmarking

The annual benchmarking report 2017/18 and quarter one report for 2018/19 were released in August 2018 and have been sent to the regional performance leads, directors of children’s services and chief executives in each local authority. A set of presentation slides which provide some analysis of the regional data set for quarter one has been circulated to performance leads in each local authority.

A workshop event, ‘Knowing how well your children’s services are doing’, for lead members and the chairs of scrutiny panels took place on 18 October 2018. The event was well attended and briefed members on the format of the regional report prior to its regular distribution to lead members after quarter two.

The quarter two benchmarking report was released in mid-November 2018. On 27 November 2018 the Assistant Director Network examined the report and provided some narrative analysis of regional performance. This analysis will be available for the self-assessment challenge in December.

Strategic Children’s Sector-Led Improvement Group

The strategic group, which has representation from the region’s chief executives, lead members, directors of children’s services and the LGA, have agreed their terms of reference. The group is now developing a working protocol for the Regional Improvement Alliance which will be subject to agreement by all local authorities at the ‘Regional Leadership Summit’ to be held on 9 January 2019.

Regional Learning Event – Quality Assurance Workshop - 9 November 2018

All local authorities sent representatives to a QA workshop led by Essex as a Partner in Practice event. 50 people were in attendance and the workshop enabled participants to share good practice and resources in QA processes.

Thematic Peer Challenge Programme 2017/18

Eight thematic peer challenges have been held in the 2017/18. A workshop to evaluate learning from the most recent challenge, which focussed on neglect, took place on 13 September 2018. A draft evaluation report has been produced and was presented to the regional sector-led improvement group on 22 November 2018 for approval.

Thematic Peer Challenge Programme for 2018/19

A framework has been agreed for the thematic peer challenge programme for 2018/19. The theme will be focused on improving outcomes for children in need of help and protection. As in previous years, local authorities will be able to work in pairs or threes to undertake the hosting and challenging roles. Each local authority is aiming to take part in the challenge before July 2019. The programme will be organised through the Principal Social Worker Network and Regional Co-ordinator.

Regional Partnership with Research in Practice

Arrangements for the regional ‘Tailored Support’ offer are now in development. After consultation with the RIP Link Officers’ Network, a regional conference is being organised by RIP to take place on 5 December 2018. The conference will be hosted by Devon County Council in Exeter and will focus on ‘getting to good’; involving children, young people and families in the co-production of appropriate provision. In addition, there will be up to four regional workshops open to all local authorities, one of the themes for which will be ‘Identifying and responding to sexual harm of children and young people’.

Strategic Improvement Plan for Sector-Led Improvement 2018- 2021

A RAG rated plan which will demonstrate progress on regional priorities has now been discussed at the regional Sector-Led improvement Group.

Workforce Development

A regional partnership to introduce a South West Frontline programme has been provisionally agreed. Individual local authorities are in the process of formalising the agreement with Frontline. It is intended that the South West programme will commence in September 2019 creating placements for approximately 50 students.


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South East Region Update December 2018

Sector-Led Improvement

  • All 19 authorities have agreed to participate in a self-assessment peer challenge process. There will be 6 triads holding all-day challenge sessions in February 2019, leading up to a regional improvement summit on 22 March 2019. The main principle is a non-stigmatising approach to improvement, including the assumption that there is excellent practice in all authorities and that all authorities have improvement needs
  • All DCS colleagues now have access, via a password-controlled area of the website, to each other’s self-assessments, data profiles, annual conversation letters and improvement “asks” and “offers”
  • The steering group for sector-led work will convert to the RIA steering group in April 2019
  • A consultation draft of a new MoU has been released, including proposals for third-party disclosure of concerns or worries about potential service failure, and for data sharing with DfE and others
  • Our new project considering “LAC placement issues for vulnerable young people and adolescents (10-18 age group)” has now analysed data on over 800 complex-needs placements across the region. Discussion with DfE commissioning colleagues is progressing to support further the development of the project which is sponsored by Lucy Butler (DCS Oxfordshire).
  • Our SEND19 Group, Data Benchmarking Group and Regional Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board continue
  • The Children’s Social Care Workforce: Memorandum of Co-operation (MoC) for managing the supply and demand of children’s social workers phases one and two is now operational; the MoC has been tested in anger recently and two authorities have parted company
  • Networks for assistant directors for safeguarding (or equivalent) and education (or equivalent) continue to provide mutual support.

For further details go to www.seslip.co.uk.


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North West Region Update December 2018

Launch of the NWADCS Directory of Support

As part of the North West’s development of a Regional Improvement Alliance and our commitment to a strong sector-led improvement offer a ‘Directory of Support’ has been developed. This is based on the principle that all local authorities have something to offer, regardless of their current circumstances.

To ensure the directory operates in a proportionate and impactful way, directors of children’s services have agreed that all local authorities will be offered the opportunity to categorise their offer of support. This will enable effective brokering and a more co-ordinated approach to providing and accessing improvement support within the region. The categories are:

  • Sharing key documentation – strategies, action plans, datasets, policies and similar that can be shared widely or made available to share on request
  • Structured practice sharing – dedicated agenda item through relevant sub-group; carousel at NWADCS; one-off session delivered locally to all LAs; input to ‘Better for Children’ Seminar - Working Together to Improve’
  • On-site peer challenge – willingness to match areas of good practice with requests for on-site peer challenge, leading or being part of teams for thematic challenges
  • Peer-to-peer – a more in depth, ‘matched’ offer to LAs in particular need of support e.g. coaching/mentoring; detailed discussion and sharing of plans between teams; ‘critical friend’ review of plans, policies and action plans or similar; external ‘desktop’ audit activity.

Improving Outcomes for Disadvantaged Pupils: Lessons We Can All Learn

Improving outcomes for children from disadvantaged groups is one of the biggest priorities in the North West region. To address this, the partners on the Regional School Improvement Board were keen to understand the lessons learned from schools and trusts succeeding with these groups of pupils.

The Ofsted Regional Director and his team helped to identify a range of schools demonstrating outstanding practice in improving outcomes for these groups of children. This was checked out with the Regional Schools Commissioner for London and West Yorkshire and the relevant local authorities. The schools were then invited to share their practice at a session in Manchester in summer term 2018:

  • Schools provided their context in advance of the session, to ensure the focus of their presentation was on action and impact. The context summary for each school is provided in this report for background information
  • The presenters were asked to address three key questions, to provide a consistent framework to the input
  • The inputs were in the form of table top sharing of practice, rather than showcase power point presentations
  • NLEs acted as scribes to capture the headlines from the carousels of input and questions.

The feedback from the sharing exercise was extremely positive. Partners on the board were determined that the lessons learned should be shared more widely. A written report, based on the response to the three questions, was agreed. In addition, partners requested video footage to capture the heart of the messages from the outstanding leaders to be shared with schools in all 23 LA areas. This is in the final stage of editing.

If you would like access to the good practice document or video clips, please contact Zelda Massey at zeldam@nwemployers.org.uk


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North East Region Update December 2018

Social Work Conference

In October we held a regional children’s social work conference celebrating local social work practice. The event was attended by over 250 social workers and included sessions delivered by each local authority in the region, as well as some led by children and young people. 96% of attendees said they had taken away learning from the event that would inform their practice.

Children’s Emotional Health and Wellbeing

DCSs participated in a system leadership event on children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing. The session was facilitated by Jo Davidson from the Staff College and colleagues from Camden attended to share learning from their integrated approach and thrive model. A sub-group plans to take forward learning from the event.

Children’s Continuing Care

A review of children’s continuing care across the region has identified variation in relation to referrals, eligibility rates, approaches to funding and spend by different agencies. The findings will be explored further by the region’s Children’s Commissioning Group and some children’s continuing care training sessions have been held for staff.

Opportunity North East

The DfE has announced £24 million investment in the North East over three years which aims to improve outcomes for young people through secondary education and beyond. £12 million will fund the early roll out of the ‘Early Career Framework’ for teachers and the remaining £12 million will be invested in bringing DfE national programmes to the North East and innovation projects. There will be a particular focus on four local authority areas; Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Hartlepool and Northumberland.

Sector-Led Improvement / RIA

Preparation for our Regional Improvement Alliance continues. Directors are meeting regularly with DfE regional colleagues and we are working towards a data sharing agreement. Self-assessments are underway and our ‘Directors’ Challenge’ sessions are scheduled to take place in December and January.

Three peer challenges have taken place in the region between September and November with two focussing on care leavers and the other on the front door.

We have re-established a lead member network and the first session in September considered the funding of children’s services. The next meeting, in December, will include a focus on workforce issues, which continue to be a priority in the region.


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Greater London Region Update December 2018

London’s Response to the Regional Improvement Alliance Approach

ALDCS recently held a regional summit with chief executives, lead members for children’s services, DCSs, ADs and other partners from across the region, to present and discuss its approach to the Regional Improvement Alliance. The region identified three priorities – vulnerable adolescents; workforce; and special educational needs & disabilities and is currently working on the programme for the next year of sector- led improvement activity.

Regionalising Adoption

Project managers are continuing to work at each of the sub-regional ‘spokes’ of London’s regional adoption agency, Adopt London. The current target for go-live of Adopt London is April 2019.

Funding Pressures in Children’s Social Care and High Needs

London DCSs, working with London Councils and chief executives, have commissioned further research to understand better the financial pressures facing children’s social care budgets and the High Needs Block. Our recent analysis revealed that London boroughs experienced a collective shortfall of £78 million in the High Needs Block, and £112 million in children’s social care in 2017/18. ALDCS and partners plan to commission qualitative research to investigate the key drivers of increased spend in these areas and identify current and emerging practice to reduce spend and manage demand.

School Places

ALDCS is working with London Councils on the next publication of ‘Do the Maths’, an annual places planning report, which will focus on the demand for secondary and dedicated SEND places in London.

MASH Review

The London Safeguarding Children Board carried out a review of MASH. The final report of the review went to the London Safeguarding Children Board on 13 September and was received positively. Agencies are now tasked to consider whether to endorse or amend the recommendations and report back to the London SCB on 10 December 2018, where an implementation plan will be agreed.

Children in Custody

A multi-agency working group, chaired by a DCS, is reviewing our approach to providing accommodation to children denied bail. The profile of this issue has increased in recent years – the factors behind the challenge of ensuring we are providing accommodation wherever appropriate are related to both the capacity of the system as well as to the clarity of regulations among the police and local government workforce. The group is also looking into whether bail is being granted in all cases where it is appropriate. The group shares data on police requests for accommodation with local authorities on a regular basis. A draft protocol for London has been written and is being consulted upon. ALDCS is also considering what steps can be taken to develop appropriate accommodation within the London area.

Appropriate Adult (AA) Provision

Directors of adults’ social services are currently considering a proposal to co-commission AA provision for vulnerable adults across the Basic Command Unit (BCU) footprint. Although this is not a statutory requirement for local authorities, it is relatively low cost and the MPS and NHSE will jointly fund the provision. Initial indications suggest that the majority of boroughs will agree and, where this is the case, arrangements will then be made to appoint a lead commissioner across the BCU who can liaise with the police and NHSE. The multi-agency working group, chaired by a DCS, which has developed these recommendations, will meet again to consider further the implications of the reduction in custody suites on children’s social care and whether processes can be put in place to support the provision of AAs to large events across the capital which are likely to generate a significant volume of arrests.

County Lines

ALDCS will be leading discussions at a county lines roundtable, being convened with partners from within and outside London, to take stock of our current approaches to preventing the exploitation of vulnerable young people by county lines crime organisations and to agree collaborative actions.

Pan-London Secure Settings Project

ALDCS is working with the NHS on a review of secure settings in London which includes an exploration of the use of secure settings by London’s young people and a consideration of future commissioning options.


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East Midlands Region Update December 2018

Sector-Led Improvement Activity

The East Midlands RIA plan is now becoming well-established as the vehicle to hold and describe the joint work priorities of the nine LAs in the region. The EM DCS group provides regular, strong leadership for the work, providing the executive steer, whilst the second-tier groups for social care/safeguarding and schools/learning provide the extra detail and mobilise the plans.

The activities within the current RIA plan are well-underway and on-track, and the new cycle of challenge and review for the next year has now started. The calendar for this cycle runs as follows:

  • Nov – Dec: All LAs complete their regional self-evaluation
  • Jan – Feb: Triad challenge conversations between senior LA teams
  • March: Updated draft plan developed in response to emerging issues, expressions of need and offers of help
  • Mid-March: Workshop session with DCSs and lead members to confirm priorities
  • April onwards: Implementation of new activity.

Some of the main recent activity within the RIA plan includes:

  • The process is enshrined within and underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding signed by DCS, LM and CEO
  • The recently appointed RIA Project Manager (0.4fte) is strengthening the strategic elements of the process
  • The regional online data facilities continue to create a strong foundation for comparative analysis.

Self-Evaluation and Challenge Conversations

The regional template was updated this year and is currently being completed. It adopts a ‘chapter’ sectional approach that enables different colleagues, from different areas of service, to contribute and utilise pre-existing SEFs much more. These completed self-evaluations are shared between the three LAs in each triad challenge conversation over the Christmas period prior to the challenge conversations taking place in January.

Regional Case Audit Moderation

An inaugural seminar was held in October with Ofsted which looked at the characteristics of a good audit process. In preparation, the region had reviewed and evaluated each other’s audit tools/processes and provided cases for moderation. As a result, a regular on going programme of regional moderation will now be held.

School Inclusion Dashboard

A prototype for a regional inclusion dashboard has now been developed and populated with one LA’s school data. The DCS group has committed to the submission of live quarterly data into the tool, a process which should come into operation during 2019.

Think Tank with Ofsted in November on CLA Education Achievement

A seminar has been held with AD colleagues from education and social care, plus heads of service for LAC and virtual school heads, with Ofsted. This covered the analysis of data and underlying issues, it shared emerging good practice and committed to on going work to develop and share practice across the region.

Reducing Parental Conflict

The regional groups, ‘Troubled Families Leads’ and ‘Workforce Leads’, recently met with the DWP to find out more about this new investment and training resource. Subsequently the DCS group has agreed to support a collaborative approach that will enable the region to obtain better value from the funds.

Reducing Exploitation of Vulnerable Young People

The region’s CSE leads are currently peer reviewing each other’s toolkits for tackling CSE and other forms of exploitation. This work is underpinned by a set of regional standards. A conference is being held in December to bring colleagues and partners together to disseminate and reinforce the most effective practice.

Reflective Supervision and Outcomes-based (SMART) Care Planning

Seminars are being arranged for the spring that tackle these two priority themes in this year’s RIA plan.


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Eastern Region Update December 2018

Regional Self-Evaluation & DCS Peer Challenge

  • The new Regional Improvement Alliance/sector-led improvement framework continues to influence the focus of activity within the region
  • As part of the new process, the next regional DCS meeting in December will include updates from each DCS on the actions arising from their self-evaluations and peer challenge, Ofsted focused visits, feedback from any inspections since last April and the quarter two data from the tartan rug. It is anticipated that this review and challenge will be able to feed into each local authority’s preparation for their Ofsted annual conversation which, for some authorities, will be scheduled early in 2019.

Regional Priorities

The confirmed regional priorities emerging from the peer challenge process are:

  • Outcomes for children in need and early help
  • Children not in school and vulnerable learners
  • Serious youth violence
  • Reducing resources and increasing need
  • Sharing good practice.

DCS and AD leads have been identified for each regional priority. An improvement action plan has been prepared outlining a programme of work to address each topic area and this has been shared with the LGA Improvement Advisor and the DfE. The improvement activity links in to the work of the regional networking groups and several focused regional events are being planned.

Peer Review & Inspection

Peer reviews provide challenge and support in targeted, thematic areas of service. The full peer review methodology is being reviewed and updated to bring it into line with the ILACS framework and a peer review programme for 2019 is being planned. In addition:

  • Paired peer reviews are being conducted into QA & audit arrangements. A methodology has been prepared, pairings agreed, and local planning/scheduling has commenced
  • A peer review methodology for PLO & care proceedings is available for those LAs that request a peer review
  • A thematic CLA & achieving permanence peer review methodology has been prepared. A team has been assembled to conduct a single targeted peer review at the end of November
  • SEND peer reviews continue
  • A programme of education service peer reviews has been planned for this academic year.

Data Benchmarking

  • The quarterly tartan rug report continues to highlight comparative performance across all LAs in the region against a range of performance measures; data outcomes are increasingly being supported with contextual narrative comment
  • Additional data measures, for inclusion in the tartan rug, are being considered. Some of these relate to the group of 18 KPIs proposed by ADCS as a common dataset for regional KPI monitoring
  • A thematic deep-dive benchmark into CIN is currently being undertaken. This will be supplemented by narrative evidenced from QA activity undertaken in each LA.

Regional Networks

  • The regular regional network meetings facilitated for social care ADs, LSCB chairs and business managers, QA leads, performance information management group, principal social workers, corporate parenting steering group, leaving care network and education leads continue to be held
  • A SEND work programme is also in place and will be reviewed at the end of the financial year
  • A new regional group for leads of the early help service is being constituted with a plan to hold the first meeting before the end of the year
  • Governance of sector-led improvement activity within the region is undertaken by an SLI steering group, a children’s improvement board and the regional DCS group.


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Committee Update: WD December 2018

The Workforce Development Policy Committee met on 30 November in London to discuss teacher recruitment and retention, in light of the DfE’s forthcoming teacher recruitment and retention strategy, as well as diversity in the workforce. The committee reviewed the first draft of it’s position paper Building a workforce for all children.

The group considered regional memoranda of understanding (MoUs) for the use of agency social workers and discussed areas to focus on and examples of good practice to help develop a guide to assist regions in developing their own MoUs.

The committee also received an update on the ASYE from a representative from Skills for Care as well as the announcement that the integrated degree apprenticeship for social work has received sign-off from the Institute for Apprenticeships.


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Committee Update: HCAN December 2018

The Health, Care & Additional Needs Policy Committee met in London on 28 November. The group was joined by a rep from Children and Young People’s Mental Health at NHS England, who provided an update on the recent developments arising out of the ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision’ Green Paper. A number of ‘trailblazer areas’ for Mental Health Support Teams are being set up, with four week waiting periods due for imminent announcement. Training for Designated Senior Leads is being commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE), and recruitment is underway for Mental Health Support Staff. The group suggested that greater flexibility was needed around service delivery; the whole system needs to be collaborative and holistic if we are to navigate successfully some of the complexities of children and young people’s individual circumstances. Some concern was raised about workforce issues, and also how best to support young people when they transition from secure placements. Additional issues were discussed about funding arrangements; which it was felt often gets in the way of providing a positive service. The issue of ‘crisis care’ was raised, and there was agreement that improvements in ‘joined up’ working were needed. It was felt that further thought is needed on how to develop and improve working together on SEND transitions, and how to improve assisting young people moving from secure hospitals, to appropriate placements before returning home. The group agreed there are issues where Children in Care who are placed out of area, are struggling to get priority service in the area in which they live, and that this needs to be corrected.

The group went on to discuss a review of recent NHS England reports on secure placements. Whilst it was agreed that placement availability is becoming increasingly scarce, there is an emerging plan from the DfE to boost the number of welfare beds. Concern was raised about the lack of information and understanding about the use of unregulated placements: priorities for further work are unregulated placements, and the join up between secure welfare, justice and health placements. Key messages from Safeguarding Pressures Phase 6 saferelating to the HCAN remit, specifically around placement costs, were also discussed.

The group was then joined by two reps from the DfE who provided an update on plans for the adoption register, Regional Adoption Agencies (RAAs), and improving outcomes in fostering. The adoption register has been paused, and discussions are still being held with Coram about how the service will close down when the contract ends in March 2019. The group emphasised the importance of Ofsted understanding the DfE’s position regarding the LA’s ‘duty to refer’, to avoid unfair penalties. With regards to RAAs, the group noted that still relatively few are up and running, and the general view was that RAAs work better for some LAs than others; dependent on whether they are a net importer/exporter of adopters. Feedback from the DfE was that every LA must be in an RAA by 2020, and by Easter next year two-thirds will have gone live. In terms of developments in fostering, the DfE are trying to identify areas of good practice where LAs are doing things differently. In the New Year, seed-funding will be available to ‘fostering partnerships’, where the potential to develop better partnerships to meet local need is identified. There is a focus on how support can be provided to LAs to avoid high cost IFA placements. Concern was raised by the group about lack of flexibility in the system regarding Shared Lives arrangements, and there was discussion about how to bring relationship-based social work into the recruitment of foster carers, and how to support children and young people into arrangements with matching to people who are not necessarily in the system (eg, wider family and friends).

Key messages from the Family Justice Observatory’s inaugural research report on infant removals was provided by Research in Practice. The group agreed that one of the striking findings was that 54% of newborns removed were ‘first-borns’. A marked regional difference was noted; with the North West having a higher number of infant removals than elsewhere. This raised discussion around what is happening regionally at pre-proceedings level, and that further understanding is needed about practice during pre-birth assessment and the PLO process.


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Committee Update: RS and SPI December 2018

Members of the Association’s Resources & Sustainability and the Standards, Performance & Inspection Policy Committees met jointly in London on Thursday 22 November to discuss shared areas of interest. The Early Intervention Foundation’s (EIF’s) Director of Policy and Evidence joined the group to discuss how we can collectively make the case for investing in early intervention. The EIF recently published a report on this topic and the group ran through the key messages and recommendations. Some of the key challenges to investing in helping children and families earlier included short term funding settlements, the political imperative for ‘quick wins,’ fragmented responsibility for children’s policy across myriad government departments, not delivering ‘what works,’ and, gaps in our knowledge and understanding.

We know that receiving help at any stage in a child’s life can make a difference if appropriately targeted and tailored to their needs and we know there are some key areas where it can make the biggest impact, particularly in relation to risky behaviours in adolescence. Reducing the need for children’s social care interventions should not be the driver for this work nor should cashable savings. Returns on investment may take many years to come to fruition.

Discussions then moved onto the findings of the sixth phase of the Association’s ‘Safeguarding Pressures’ research – over the last 10 years child protection activity has increased significantly, from initial contacts to the numbers of children in care, yet funding has reduced dramatically over this same period – by 50%. These findings will feed into the Association’s written submission to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee’s current inquiry on funding for children’s services. The group agreed it is important to emphasise the growing pressure in the high needs funding block in the submission and that we seek to debunk the myth surrounding spend and outcomes achieved – some of the highest performing authorities in the country have begun raising concerns about their precarious funding situation publicly.

The group then considered in more detail the pressures in the high needs budget, noting in particular the demand coming from FE colleges, who are referring young people aged 16+ we’ve never had dealings with before for assessment and the huge inconsistency in health contributions to the costs of meeting a child or young person’s personal education, health and care plan. The group agreed these were significant concerns.

The gap in regulatory activity in terms of assuring the operations of large chains of children’s homes was also considered alongside some of the indicators which might usefully be included in the expanded Regional Improvement Alliance dataset to help identify those authorities in danger of slipping. Some of the suggested additions to the draft dataset included the percentage of the children’s workforce that is made up of agency social workers, financial fragility and engagement in regional work. The group agreed it is important that these softer indicators are clearly defined to ensure ‘like for like’ is being measured in each of the regional groupings.


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Committee Update: FCYP and WD December 2018

The Workforce Development and Families, Communities & Young People Policy Committees met on Friday 28 September in London to discuss shared areas of interest. The group received an update on the Practice Supervisor Development Programme (PSDP) from a representative from Research in Practice who are leading a consortium to develop and deliver the programme with the first cohort set to begin in November. Registration from local authorities has been positive, however, members were urged to provide participants to the programme where they have not already done so.

The group was then joined by a representative from the Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) for an update on the work of the Centre in providing relevant material for frontline staff and how it has engaged with key stakeholders such as delivering training to Ofsted ahead of their JTAI looking at abuse in the family environment. Cases of neglect and emotional abuse have increased significantly over the past 25 years. Challenges remain around the perceptions of CSA in the media and how it has been overshadowed by CSE due the extra media attention it receives, leading to a loss of focus on CSA. Members noted that many of the key messages around CSA have been known for a long time but that there is now a sense that we need to re-learn a lot of this as our focus has shifted towards online risks.

A senior social work lecturer from the University of Central Lancashire also joined the committee to discuss social work in a digitalised world. They explained that while many of the challenges in social work remain the same, the internet only magnifies these. Practitioners are not always aware of the processes or laws around using social media as a professional and the ethical use of this also needs to be addressed. Members discussed the need for the workforce to be digitally literate and noted that there should be more clarity and guidance on this, possibly from Social Work England as the new sector regulator.

The discussion then moved onto the role of youth work where a representative from the NYA joined the group. A level 6 Youth Work apprenticeship has just received sign-off to be delivered by September 2019 and they are also beginning work on a level 3 qualification which they hope will be in place by mid-2019. The government’s recent Civil Society Strategy, which recognised the transformational impact of youth work, was welcomed and has triggered a review of statutory duties for youth services that is due to begin at the end of 2018.

Representatives from three of the Phase 1 National Assessment and Accreditation System (NAAS) local authorities were present to provide an update on their experiences. They each noted that using the NAAS for professional development purposes and not making it mandatory has been effective. Representatives highlighted issues around GDPR legislation impacting on local authorities receiving results of the assessments as well as the impact of opposition to the NAAS from some trade unions which has resulted in some workers not participating.

Finally, the group discussed a draft structure of the new ADCS policy position paper building a workforce that works for all children. The paper will set out the need for a strong and functioning workforce that is able to respond to the changing and various needs of all children and families.


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Committe Update: EA and FCYP December 2018

The Educational Achievement and the Families, Communities & Young People Policy Committees met jointly on Friday 23 November in London to discuss shared areas of interest. The group was joined by a representative from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to discuss the development of secure schools, which will, in time, replace secure training centres. The MoJ has been working closely with colleagues in the Department for Education (DfE) over the last couple of years to develop the framework within which these new schools will operate – they will be dual registered as a children’s home and a 16 to 19 academy school. It is proposed that the free schools approvals process will also be used in assessing applicants. The window for applications is now open and expressions of interest have been received from a wide variety of providers. Secure schools were recommended by Charlie Taylor following his review of youth justice and discussions also touched on some of the other areas of reform outlined in his 2016 review, including youth offending teams and resettlement.

The group was then joined by reps from Ofsted’s unregistered schools’ team to discuss the recent test case where the proprietors of an unregistered school in London were successfully prosecuted under the Education and Skills Act (2006). Discussions touched on the importance of collaborative working between Ofsted, local authorities and the DfE as well as consistent messaging from these three partners when encountering an unregistered school in terms of pursuing a prosecution should collective efforts to encourage compliance with the law be unsuccessful. The links between attendance at an unregistered setting operating illegally and elective home education was noted as a weakness in legislation and Ofsted reps noted the legislative shortcomings in relation to their role too – they do not have any powers to close settings. The team began operating in January 2016 they have received nearly 500 referrals of suspected illegal schools. They flagged concern about a number of alternative providers operating within the requirements to require registration as a school and some cases of residential children’s homes who were offering on-site education without prior registration as a school.

Two representatives from the DfE shared an overview of several new work streams relating to the early years, including a forthcoming public health style campaign to improve speech, language and school readiness, a new early years peer review for local areas funded by the DfE but delivered by the LGA and a £6.5 million fund for local areas to bid into in order to boost early outcomes. Reps from the DfE noted that local areas have been doing some or all of these things locally for some time and stated that they see their role as a convener and an amplifier and to that end are seeking examples of local practice in this space.

The group also reviewed the results of Association’s third elective home education survey, which showed another annual increase in the numbers of children and young people known to be educated at home and members shared a brief overview of progress in their areas on developing new multiagency safeguarding arrangements (to replace LSCBs).


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Committee Update: EA and HCAN December 2018

The Educational Achievement and the Health, Care & Additional Needs Policy Committees met jointly in Manchester on 3 October to discuss shared areas of interest. The group was joined by the National Children and Young Person’s Lead for Transforming Care at NHS England to provide an update on Transforming Care and development of the NHS long term plan.

Transforming care aims to improve health and care services so people with learning disabilities, autism and complex behaviour challenges can live, with support, in the community. A number of accelerator sites are trialling new or different ways of working with this cohort of children and young people and an overview of their work was provided – some are developing intensive, therapeutic services, some are working more closely with schools to prevent exclusions and others are building a ‘Tier 3 ½’ service. In terms of the long-term plan for the NHS, three work streams relate directly to children and young people – healthy childhoods; learning disabilities and autism; and, mental health.

A representative from the Department of Health and Social Care also joined the group to discuss the continuing care fund in light of the Department’s review of the national framework. The group suggested greater emphasis on joint commissioning was required, greater flexibility about where continuing care can add value and enablement of growth and participation going forward. There is concern that success in keeping children out of Tier 4 placements and Assessment and Treatment Units is leading to some young people going to residential school placements as an alternative which puts the pressure on both the high needs budget and the dedicated school grant. It was agreed that we need a joint policy agenda in this area given the implications for adult health and care budgets for the long term.

The group was then joined by the co-chairs of the National Network of Parent Carer Forums who offered an overview of their work, some commonly encountered issues and some of the successes local fora have had in recent months. The chairs reported quite significant variances in support for, and work with, fora across the country. The co-chairs noted the challenges and frustrations in the system and offered to work collaboratively with ADCS as we move towards the spending review to put forward the case for additional investment in children and young people with the most complex and challenging needs. Their priorities are to promote co-production, joint working and getting a higher profile in the discussions about managing austerity, all of which could assist us around our SEND budget pressures.

Discussions also touched on the government’s consultation on its draft relationships and sex education and health education guidance, changes to GCSE grades over the summer and exclusions.

Get involved! If you would like get involved in the work of the ADCS Policy Committees contact us at info@adcs.org.uk and one of our policy officers will get in touch with more information.


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NCASC 2018 Presentations

Presentations from the 2018 National Children and Adults Services Conference are available from the conference website at:

ncasc.info/presentations2018


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NCASC18 President’s Address

ADCS President’s address at the National Children and Adult Services Conference 2018

Speaking to delegates at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Manchester Stuart Gallimore, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), today said:

On ADCS Safeguarding Pressures research

“Poverty can and does impact upon parenting capacity. What our research (and that of others) has found quite clearly is that poverty as a result of the cumulative impacts of 10 years of austerity, and welfare reform is a primary cause of increased demand for early help and children’s social care…The ‘trigger trio’ of parental mental ill-health, problematic substance use, and domestic abuse are also driving significant demand pressures. Together with child poverty, these represent the most prevalent risk factors in children’s lives. So it makes sense doesn’t it to address the cycle of adult disadvantage in order to help improve outcomes for children.”

On the Chancellor’s budget announcements

“The Chancellor announced £410 million for social care in 2019/20, with no further detail about how this will be shared or allocated between the desperate needs of adult social care and children’s social care services. It sets us up for 152 local bun-fights. Whilst any additional funding is to be welcomed, this is nowhere near enough to plug the funding gap expected in children’s services budgets next year alone, let alone longer term. For children’s social care specifically, the Chancellor announced that 20 local authorities with the highest numbers of looked after children, will share £84 million over five years…We are keen to understand how this will make a difference to the sector as a whole.”

He went on to say: “The one-off capital payment of £400 million announced in the Budget for equipment and buildings, is less than has been allocated for repairing roads. This will not solve the long-term issues we see in our schools. Failing to invest in children and their education is a false economy.”

On children’s services funding

“We are deeply concerned at the government’s piecemeal approach to funding children’s services. Small, ad hoc, short-term pots of funding from central government in response to single issues, made available for some but not all local areas, are particularly unhelpful and simply not good enough. They fall woefully short of the sustainable and equitable long-term investment strategy we need to ensure that children receive high quality, safe services at the earliest possible opportunity.”

He went on to say: “As part of ADCS Safeguarding Pressures research we asked directors how much money they needed to fill the hole in their budget and what percentage of their overall budget that represented…In essence, children’s services in England need around £840 million pound a year, each year to 2020 to stabilise the ship alone. This does not take into account inflation, price rises nor any further growth in demand or the child population. It would not allow for re-investment in the essential preventative services that local authorities have reluctantly had to begin cutting.”

On early help

“Early help is not a panacea for addressing disadvantage. It does not reduce the pressure on children’s social care in the short term. Nor does it generate short term cashable savings. Early help seeks to address complex and often deeply entrenched problems for children and families. Success depends on long-term investment, co-ordinated across all agencies with an interest. This task is impeded by a funding system biased towards short-term spending in response to immediate pressures.”

On care leavers

“Extending the cohort of care experienced young people who can ask for support from a personal advisor to the age of 25 is the right thing to do it’s what we do for our own children - we want to stay in touch with our care leavers and support them as they get older. As they experience the ups and downs of life, they will inevitably have needs for support that we as corporate parents have a moral duty to respond to…The funding local authorities received to help them meet the financial implications of the new responsibilities towards care leavers was inadequate. What added to our collective disappointment was the reality that these new responsibilities come on the back of a 50% reduction in local authority funding since 2010.”

ENDS



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President’s Address - NCASC 2018

Stuart Gallimore’s Presidential address at the 2018 National Children and Adult Services Conference

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Children’s Services Policy Context

ADCS members hold leadership roles in children’s services departments in local authorities in England. They specialise in developing, commissioning and leading the delivery of services to children, young people and their families, including education, health, youth, early years and social care services.

Managing the statutory demands placed upon DCSs and their senior teams in the face of diminishing resources is proving to be one of the biggest challenges in modern local government.

This resource has been developed for our members to provide an overview of the key current legislation, policy and inspections which drive or otherwise impact upon children’s services, as they deal with diminishing budgets and a range of reviews of the wider services they provide.


Children’s Services Statutory Duties

In 2011, a piece of work was undertaken by government which produced lists of statutory duties as they apply to councils in England. Of those duties, around 200 were in respect of children’s services. More than seven years on, ADCS has undertaken an exercise to update the list of duties - we believe there are now almost 300 statutory duties in relation to children’s services.

Find out more

Children’s Services Timeline 2007 onwards

ADCS has developed a timeline which illustrates the key events and changes that impact on safeguarding children and young people in England.

Find out more

The Roles and Responsibilites of Directors of Children’s Services and Lead Members for Children’s Services

This guidance covers the legislative basis for the 2 appointments; roles and responsibilities of the post holders; and government expectations about the role of local authorities in education and children & young people’s services.

Find out more

ADCS Safeguarding Pressures Research

ADCS longitudinal research into the pressures facing local authority children’s services departments.

Find out more

Inspection

ADCS has developed a resource which brings together a range of supporting information regarding ILACS inspection, including links to the framework and guidance; an overview of published outcomes and a range of supporting materials.

Find out more


This resource will continue to be developed. If you have any comments or suggestions to assist the development please contact info@adcs.org.uk


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Statistics on serious incident notifications by local authorities

Commenting on statistics showing numbers of serious incident notifications by local authorities Jenny Coles, Chair of the ADCS Families, Communities and Young People Policy Committee, said:

“Few conclusions can be drawn from this data, specifically the reasons why there has been a worrying rise in the number of suicides among children and young people. That said, we know that poor mental health and well being can have a devastating, lifelong impact on children and for so long an increasing number of children and young people have not received the mental health support they need until they have reached crisis point. Sustainable, long-term funding across the totality of children’s services is required to ensure children receive the right support, in the right place and at the earliest opportunity to prevent problems from becoming entrenched and reaching crisis point. Without this we will never be a country that works for all children.”

ENDS


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OCC report on vulnerable babies in England

Commenting on a report by the OCC into vulnerable babies in England Charlotte Ramsden, Chair of the ADCS Health, Care and Additional Needs Policy Committee, said:

“For local authorities protecting children and young people from harm is most important work and we work with a range of partners to do this including schools, health, the police and the voluntary sector. We know that children are best brought up within their families, this is a core principle of the Children Act 1989; local authorities are working hard to support families in times of crisis to better manage the challenges they face but the government’s current approach to funding is not conducive to this goal. Children’s services are facing increasing pressures as the report states; austerity continues and the cuts local authorities are having to make are becoming increasingly tough and counterintuitive as we are forced to scale back services that help tackle the root causes of the problems families face not just the symptoms. We urge the government to seriously rethink its current approach to funding children’s services, ad-hoc, time limited grant funding that only benefits a handful of local areas does not offer a sustainable, equitable solution. We hope the government is not silent on the issue in the forthcoming Autumn Budget.”

ENDS


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Children’s Services Statutory Duties

Children’s Services Statutory Duties

In 2011, a piece of work was undertaken by government which produced lists of statutory duties as they apply to councils in England. Of those duties, around 200 were in respect of children’s services.

More than seven years on, ADCS has undertaken an exercise to update the list of duties - we believe there are now almost 300 statutory duties in relation to children’s services.

The list we have compiled is not necessarily exhaustive - we would be grateful for any feedback from colleagues on the duties listed to assist us:

  • Remove any duties no longer in statute
  • Remove any duties which have been over-ridden by more recent legislation
  • Add any duties which we have not yet identified.

Please contact Pam Davies at pam.davies@adcs.org.uk with your comments.

We hope that this list will be a valuable resource to our members as they deal with diminishing budgets and a range of reviews of the wider services they provide.

View list (.xlsx)


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Family court statistics

Jenny Coles, Chair of the ADCS Families, Communities and Young People Policy Committee, said:

“Local authorities and the courts have made some good progress in improving the timeliness of care proceedings down from an average of 50 weeks in 2011 to 26 weeks in 2016. One of the ways local authorities have done this is by revising our approaches to pre-proceedings but there are several reasons why average times are now lengthening. The volume of cases we are dealing with is increasing as is the complexity. Delays can also be due to differences in courts or assessments for family members identified part way through proceedings. The Public Law Outline has delivered some benefits in terms of reducing unnecessary drift and delay for children and families, however, we are clear that this can never be at the detriment of children. Social workers must be given the time and space to conduct comprehensive and robust assessments to ensure we are meeting the individual needs of the child even if this falls outside of the 26 week time limit.”

ENDS


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Civil Society Strategy

Commenting on the government’s Civil Society Strategy Rachel Dickinson, ADCS Vice President, said:

“The Civil Society Strategy clearly recognises the impact of youth services and youth workers who contribute to a range of positive outcomes at a community and individual level, this is welcome, as is the commitment to involve young people more in the development, implementation and evaluation of new policies that will directly affect their lives. DCMS are leading the way with this and we believe other government departments should follow.

“A review of statutory guidance setting out our duties in relation to youth services seems sensible. The Strategy rightly states that much has changed since this guidance was last updated, in 2012. Youth services have been disproportionately impacted by a 49% reduction in local government funding since 2010, and local authorities have been exploring different ways of arranging, commissioning and delivering these services in a bid to retain some provision. Services are typically more targeted and embedded as part of the early help offer.

“The Strategy does not address the key drivers of social inequalities in this country including rising levels of child poverty, expected to reach a staggering 5.2 million by 2022, but it is a welcome step in the right direction.”

ENDS


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Local authority statutory duties in relation to children

Alison Michalska, ADCS Immediate Past President, said:

“Local authorities have around 200 statutory duties in relation to children including around child protection, children in need, special educational needs and disabilities, home to school transport, care leavers – the list goes on. That we are starting to see a trend in local authorities stepping away from providing discretionary services should serve as a warning to the Treasury. Our funding has reduced in real-terms by 49% since 2010 whilst demand and the number of duties most definitely have not. We have worked hard to make savings but children’s services are now facing a funding gap of £2 billion by 2020. As a result, all councils are being forced to make counterintuitive decisions like cutting the very services we know help children and families earlier and prevent the escalation of need to crisis point. This is neither sensible nor an effective use of public money. We hope government hear and, crucially, act by plugging the funding gap in children’s services to prevent us from becoming a wholly ‘blue light service’.”

ENDS


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Out of area placements being made in the south east

Commenting on out of area placements, Rachel Dickinson, Vice President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said:

“Ensuring we find stable placements that meet the needs of the children in our care is a big priority for our members but as Sir Martin Narey recognised in his review of residential care, the issue of out of area placements is not as straight forward as often suggested. Whilst it is desirable for children to remain close to their friends and wider family, there are times when it is necessary for placements to be made further afield because of the availability of specialist homes, for example, or for safety reasons. A whole host of factors are considered as part of this process, including the child’s needs, the support they require, availability, geography and cost. There are more children in care than ever, up 40% over the last decade, yet there is a national shortage of foster carers and a growing disconnect between the location of residential children’s homes and demand. Homes are increasingly opening in areas where housing is cheaper, in parts of the south east, the midlands and north west, which is contributing to this complex picture.

“Identifying vulnerable young people at risk of harm, disrupting sexual or criminal exploitation activities and pursing prosecutions requires the full commitment and support of all statutory partners including local authorities, the police, health services, schools and the wider community, particularly where a child is new to the area. Sadly, these issues are not limited to a particular geography, they are national problems and should be recognised as such. We need to work to together with all safeguarding partners to find different ways of preventing harm from occurring. The government has a role to play too in addressing the weaknesses in our systems, particularly around notifications and information sharing, and in helping us to address the social, cultural and moral issues that allow unscrupulous adults to take advantage of children and their vulnerabilities.”

ENDS


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Annual Conference 2018 Presentations

Speeches and presentations from the ADCS Annual Conference 2018

Plenary Sessions:

President’s Address - Stuart Gallimore’s speech (pdf)

Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP (web link)

Nadhim Zahawi MP (web link)

Jasvinder Sanghera CBE Find out more at www.karmanirvana.org.uk

Local area-based education partnerships: Christine Gilbert CBE (presentation pdf) | Kathryn Boulton (presentation pdf)

Inspection of local authority children’s services: Yvette Stanley (presentation pdf)

Children’s Services Funding: Edwina Grant (LGA) and Luke Tregidgo (Newton) (presentation pdf)

Show Me That I Matter (presentation pdf) | Website (web link)

Workshop Sessions:

A workforce that works for all children (incl Sefton & Nottingham presentations - pdf)

Developing commissioning of placements for children in care (incl Herts & South London Commissioning Prog - pdf)

Responding to parental conflict and domestic abuse (incl. EIF, DWP & Knowsley - pdf)

Supporting info: DWP Parental Conflict Infographic (pdf)

A vision for an inclusive education system (incl Lincolnshire, Milton Keynes, NAVSH and Ofsted - pdf)

Supporting info: Lincolnshire Exclusion Ladder (pdf)

Supporting care leavers (incl. The House Project, Havering and Manchester - pdf)

Complex safeguarding responses (incl. Camden, Hackney, Lambeth, Rochdale & Manchester - pdf)

Supporting info: GM Criminal Exploitation Policy Statement (pdf)

Lessons from the inspected (incl. Oxfordshire, Solihull, Bolton & Greenwich - pdf)


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President’s address at ADCS annual conference 2018

Speaking to an assembled group of senior leaders in children and young people services, the Secretary of State for Education and Children’s Minister at the Midland Hotel, Manchester Stuart Gallimore, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), today said:

On the role of local authorities with schools

“The effective removal of local government from education management has skewed policy development. The publicly accountable local authority, with its historic and democratic legitimacy, and its effective record as a school improvement partner has been side-lined, this is not good for children or their families. Instead the DfE now seeks to perform that traditional local education authority function itself, centrally, for several thousand academies and free schools. There must always be oversight, not just because of the spending of public money, but because no school should become unresponsive to its community. Schools are the heart of their communities, and they must remain accountable to them.”

On children’s health

“The total budget for the NHS in England is approximately £100 billion. What proportion of that £100 billion do you think is spent on children’s healthcare? You don’t know? Well, neither does the NHS; neither does the IFS – but their best guess is about £9 billion – so, 9% of the total budget. That doesn’t seem like the right apportionment to me, because addressing children’s health needs early, particularly their mental and emotional health, equals early help to break the generational cycles of adult disadvantage…I’d like to strongly encourage the DfE to open discussions with the Department of Health & Social Care about transferring some of the NHS’s budget for children’s community healthcare to local authorities – I reckon we could do a damn good job of it – and government would be better sighted on how the money was being spent. There’s a precedent we can look to – the return of public health funding and responsibilities to local authorities. This was a good thing, after all, public health is early help on a grand scale.”

On child poverty

“Recent studies have shown the cognitive damage that living in poverty does to children. The harmful effects become more severe when their families remain in poverty for longer periods. Data from the Millennium Cohort Study demonstrates that family income is a powerful determinant of children’s level of cognitive development…What does this mean? It means that family background trumps ‘natural ability’. Differences in cognitive development and intelligence are the consequence of inequality…A sobering thought; and so is this – by 2022, the IFS predicts there will be 5.2 million children living in poverty. We are seeing families at our front doors or in the MASH that we have had no previous knowledge of, or engagement with. There are foodbanks up and down the land helping working families to survive and whilst I salute their work it really is a stain on our society that they need to. There are new glass ceilings in place for young people today, in addition to the old glass ceilings that never were quite shattered. That feels like a burning social injustice and it’s our job colleagues to help children and young people through that. Reducing child poverty is justified not only from a social justice perspective, but from a cost-benefit perspective as well. For central government, investing in strategies that reduce childhood poverty is both smart and efficient economic policy as well as the right thing to do. In the meantime, it’s our job in local government to do all we can to reduce the impact of poverty on children. This necessitates a wide lens view of social policy, an integrated approach that seeks to ameliorate the impacts of poor housing, family poverty, insecure work, social isolation and mental ill-health. If that’s not a public health challenge for the 21st century I don’t know what is.”

On funding

“Conference, be very clear – there is not enough money in the system, full stop. There is simply no fat left to trim, instead authorities up and down the country have found themselves having to cut back on early help services which makes no financial sense. The frankly bonkers notion that the future of local government funding might be fairer if more of it was generated through the retention of business rates or new homes bonus will unequivocally not be in the best interests of children and will increase the disparity in local and regional funding.”

On a workforce fit for a country that works for all children

“I warmly welcomed the DfE’s focus on social work reform…I’d like to see us focusing next on the wider children’s workforce… A month before the NHS act came into effect Bevan opened a speech with the simple statement ‘nurses are the most important part of the service’, well for us it is our front-line staff whatever their title and background. Social workers, key workers, early help practitioners, youth workers, our unsung residential workers, and the health visitors I mentioned earlier. It is the quality of the relationships they forge that make the difference. Their emotional wellbeing is key if they are to be effective as they bear the brunt of the public service reductions.”

The full speech can be found on the ADCS website.

ENDS


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President’s Address - ADCS Annual Conference 2018

President’s Address - ADCS Annual Conference 2018

Stuart Gallimore’s Presidential address to the 2018 annual conference.

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APPG for Youth Affairs – Youth Work Inquiry

ADCS evidence to the youth work inquiry by the APPG for Youth Affairs

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ADCS DCS Update 2018

Commenting on the DCS Update 2018 report Rachael Wardell, Chair of the ADCS Workforce Development Policy Committee, said:

“Although our membership data shows there were a total of 65 changes in DCS post holders in 2017/18, the highest number of annual changes since 2007, little can be deduced from this. Due to the statutory nature of the role, there must always be a serving DCS in post – almost half of these changes took place due to interim arrangements pending a permanent appointment. On closer inspection, the data shows the average tenure of a permanent DCS has steadily increased since 2012/13 and is now 37 months. Taken together with the total number of DCSs, this suggests we can expect roughly 50 changes per year and the year on year variation reflects this, with an average over this period of 47.4 changes.

“By breaking down the data we can see that a great deal of expertise remains within the sector. Many changes are accounted for by DCSs moving from one local authority to another; former DCSs filling interim positions or returning to the role; and multi-local authority arrangements, which involve a DCS holding statutory responsibility in more than one local authority. In 2017/18, we saw the second highest number of new DCS appointments in a reporting year. The overwhelming majority were assistant directors stepping up to the DCS role. A large amount of succession from assistant director level ensures that leadership positions are held by experienced and knowledgeable individuals and their expertise is not being lost from the sector.

“On the subject of ‘twin hat’ directors, since 2007, around two thirds of local authorities have at some point had a combined children and adult services directorate. Although in the past year more local authorities have moved away from these combined arrangements than have adopted them, there are still examples of new combined roles being established, so it would be too soon to suggest that these roles have had their day. It is up to local authorities how they design their local systems for the benefit of local communities. We will continue to see roles flex in response to local needs.

“We recognise that stability of leadership in any organisation is important, and in the complex domain of children’s services this is vital. We continue to press for encouragement of and investment in children’s services leadership to ensure there are enough high quality, capable leaders going on to lead systems in these increasingly challenging times.”

ENDS


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ADCS DCS update 2018 - Comment

ADCS DCS update 2018

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) today, 3 May, publishes the directors of children’s services (DCS) update 2018 using data from the Association’s membership year 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018.

ADCS has gathered and recorded detailed information about changes in post holders of the statutory DCS role since the Association was established in 2007. The report offers some year-on-year comparisons, several of which date back to 2007, in order to highlight trends and patterns of change.

Stuart Gallimore, ADCS President, said: “The importance of strong, effective local leadership in children’s services cannot be understated. The children’s services landscape has changed hugely since we first started collecting this data, the most obvious change being a 50% reduction in funding for local government since 2010, whilst demand has significantly increased. As local systems leaders, budget cuts have meant that local authorities are faced with difficult, sometimes counter-intuitive, decisions to cut the very services we know make a huge difference to children and families and reduce demand for high end statutory services.

“During 2017/18 there were a total of 65 changes in DCS post holders – the highest number of annual changes since 2007. Some churn in the system is to be expected and despite the high level of turbulence this year, a great deal of expertise remains in the sector, the majority of the changes have been accounted for by DCSs moving from one local authority to another, former DCSs filling interim positions or returning to the DCS role, and a large amount of succession from assistant director level ensures that leadership positions are held by experienced and knowledgeable individuals.

“Since 2007, around two thirds of local authorities have at some point had a combined children and adult services directorate led by a ‘twin hat’ director. In the past 12 months, 17 local authorities have disaggregated services, six local authorities have combined services in the same period. There appears to be an increasing trend in local authorities to move away from combined arrangements, however, little can be inferred from this – it is up to local authorities how they design their local systems for the benefit of local communities.”

ENDS


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ADCS DCS Update - 2018

ADCS gathers and records information about changes in post holders of the statutory DCS role; we also record the number of directors who hold both statutory roles of DCS and DASS (we refer to these posts as ‘twin hat’).

This analysis focusses on the ADCS membership year 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018. It also offers year-on-year comparisons, going back to 2007, in order to highlight trends and patterns of change.

View report


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Stuart Gallimore Inaugural Presidential Speech

Stuart Gallimore’s inaugural presidential speech made on 19 April 2018.

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Response to the government’s Serious Violence Strategy

Responding to the government’s Serious Violence Strategy Stuart Gallimore, ADCS President, said:

“ADCS welcomes efforts to steer vulnerable young people away from gangs and violent crime but we should resist the temptation to identify a single cause or remedy for the increase in senseless violence and loss of life London has experienced recently. We must also avoid labelling groups of young people as ‘troublemakers’.

“The new Strategy’s focus on prevention and early intervention is welcome, but we will need to read through the finer detail to understand the implications for services. It is important that we learn from the range of evidence-based community projects that already exist to maximise the impact of available funding for as many young people as possible such as the public health approach to reducing violence in Glasgow.

“The impact of austerity, cuts to youth services and across the public sector on the availability of positive activities for young people within their communities cannot be understated. Add to this staggering levels of child poverty and stubbornly high numbers of young people not in education or training, leaving young people with nowhere to go making them more vulnerable to exploitation by gangs. Prevention and early action is key, this must involve co-ordination of a wide range of services, including those to support families and young people, but also stimulating housing, employment opportunities and community facilities. The strategy emphasises the importance of local communities and partnerships yet provides little for local authorities to develop local responses.”

ENDS


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Annual Conference 2018 Programme

Programme overview:

DCS only sessions will start at 1:00pm on Wednesday 4 July through to approx. 11:00am on Thursday 5 July.

Wednesday 4 July | DCS ONLY
TIME: SESSION:
11:00am Registration opens - lunch available
1:00pm Plenary Sessions
6:00pm Close
6:00pm Bedroom check-in and networking
7:30pm Drinks reception
8:00pm Dinner

Thursday 5 July | DCS ONLY
TIME: SESSION:
8:00am Registration opens
8:45am Plenary Session
10:30am End of DCS Only Sessions

Thursday 5 July | All ADCS Members
TIME: SESSION:
9:00am Registration opens
11:00am Local area-based education partnerships
Speakers to include: Christine GILBERT
12:15pm Networking Lunch
1:30pm President’s Address
Stuart GALLIMORE
2:00pm Keynote address: Secretary of State for Education
The Rt Hon Damian HINDS MP
2:45pm Plenary session
Speakers to include: Jasvinder SANGHERA, Karma Nirvana
3:30pm Keynote address: Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families
Nadhim ZAHAWI MP
4:30pm Workshop Sessions:
1. A workforce that works for all children
Contributors include Sefton and Nottingham City Councils
2. Developing commissioning placements for children in care
Contributors include Alan Wood, Chair of the Residential Care Leadership Board plus Hertfordshire and Greenwich Councils
3. Responding to parental conflict and domestic abuse
Contributors include the Early Intervention Foundation and the DWP plus Dorset and Knowsley Councils
4. A vision for an inclusive education system
Contributors include Ofsted (TBC) plus Lincolnshire, Milton Keynes and North Tyneside Councils.
6:00pm Bedroom check-in and networking
7:30pm Drinks reception
8:00pm Dinner

Friday 6 July | All ADCS Members
TIME: SESSION:
9:00am Workshop Sessions:
1. Supporting care leavers
Contributors include North East Lincolnshire and Havering Councils plus the House Project
2. Managing the market - social work MoUs cancelled
Contributors include the DfE and the west Midlands regional DCSs
3. Complex safeguarding responses
Contributors include reps from the greater London and greater Manchester areas
4. Lessons from the inspected
Contributors include Oxfordshire, Bolton, Solihull and Greenwich Councils.
10:45am Ofsted
Yvette STANLEY, National Director of Social Care
11:30am Children’s Services Funding - panel session
Participants from ADCS, LGA, Newton Europe and DfE (TBC)
12:45pm City of York Children in Care Council
1:15pm President’s Conclusions
1:30pm Close of conference and take-away lunch available

Please note: The progamme is subject to change


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Cabinet Reshuffle

Responding to the announcement that Justine Greening has resigned as Secretary of State for Education Alison Michalska, President of ADCS, said:

“Justine Greening’s positive engagement with the sector has been appreciated by those of us leading children’s services, as has her commitment to improving social mobility for all children and young people. We wish her all the best for her future endeavours. This will hopefully be a continuing priority for Damian Hinds in his new role as Secretary of State for Education. We look forward to working with him and his team at the Department for Education and continuing to raise the need for a country that works for all children.”

ENDS


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Social Mobility Action Plan - Comment

Alison Michalska, President of ADCS, said:

“ADCS is entirely supportive of improving the social mobility of all children and young people. Children should be at the heart of any effective social mobility agenda and improving their outcomes at the core of all public policy if we are to tackle the challenges children and their families face today and create a country that works for all children. We welcome the publication of this action plan and its focus on education but improving social mobility is everybody’s business and without cross government support we are unlikely to see the sustained changes and improvements needed to improve the life chances of every child. Whilst £800m of funding to improve social mobility is welcome, sadly, the Treasury has decided not to invest in our children and this money will instead be redirected from elsewhere within the Department’s overall budget. It remains unclear where this money will come from and we would urge the government to share more information to help us better understand the implications for our schools and wider children’s services.”

ENDS


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NAAS consultation response from ADCS

Responding to the government’s response to the national assessment and accreditation system (NAAS) consultation Rachael Wardell, Chair of the ADCS Workforce Development Policy Committee, said:

“Social workers carry exceptional responsibility on behalf of society. They work alongside vulnerable children and families and provide emotional and practical support to help them make positive changes and overcome challenges in their lives. Social workers can only effectively safeguard and support the children and families they work with if they themselves are equipped with the necessary skills and support to do their jobs well, so we welcome the government’s commitment to raising the quality and confidence of the children and family social work workforce.

“ADCS has engaged extensively and constructively with the Department for Education on the social work reform agenda since the announcement of the knowledge and skills statements in 2014. In this time we have been clear about our views on the national accreditation and assessment system as outlined in our consultation response. ADCS believes that assessment and accreditation for the approved child and family practitioner must be mandatory, rolled out at pace and fully funded as a new burden. It is therefore disappointing that the government has not listened to our concerns and that assessment and accreditation remains a voluntary system, without the mandate necessary to avoid dividing the workforce – into social workers who are accredited and those who aren’t – and that it remains unclear whether assessment and accreditation will be fully funded by government beyond phases one and two. We hope these issues are given sufficient consideration as part of the ongoing evaluation process. We would also argue that the money spent on the NAAS is not the best use of limited resources. ADCS is committed to working with government to get these reforms right for social workers and for vulnerable children and families too. That the implementation of the NAAS will be supported by real-time analysis and evaluation is both welcome and sensible, as is the Department’s commitment to addressing issues around equality and diversity identified in the proof of concept phase. It is important that the findings from this research are shared with the sector and that we understand how they will influence the model and the social work workforce in the future.”


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Update: RS Policy Committee - Nov 2017

Standalone Resources & Sustainability meeting

Representatives from the National Audit (NAO) joined the group to discuss the NAO’s study looking at the conversion of schools to academy status. The committee was disappointed that the study focused on the conversion process rather than whether the policy of academisation represents good use of public money and improves outcomes. Consideration of how the academy system is meeting the needs of the most vulnerable learners is critical as the numbers of children electively home educated are increasing as are the number of students being placed in more specialist provision e.g. special schools and alternative provision.

There remains an inequality of treatment of the financial balances of schools which become academies via different routes. LAs also provide a range of support to schools during the transfer process which has cost implications yet LAs receive no additional funding. Some LAs are beginning to recharge academies for the costs incurred during conversion but it was noted the DfE is not supportive of this approach.

Finally, the group received a short update on home to school transport following the ADCS survey in 2016 which showed LAs spent approximately £1b pa on this service. DfE has committed to reviewing the statutory guidance on home to school transport for children with special educational needs and/ or disabilities however, there are no plans to make changes to the legislation that underpins this. The committee will continue to gather case study examples of work taking place locally on home to school transport.


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Update: SPI Policy Committee - November 2017

Standards, Performance & Inspection meeting

The Head of Contracts from the newly formed Youth Custody Service (YCS), joined the group to discuss the stark assessment of the youth justice system presented in the Chief Inspector of Prisons’ annual report 2016/17. HMCI concluded that: “There was not a single establishment that we inspected in England and Wales in which it was safe to hold children and young people,” describing the speed of decline as “staggering,” and warning the current state of youth custody is so dangerous tragedy is “inevitable.”

The formation of the YCS decouples the YJB’s responsibility for oversight and delivery of youth justice services but it is unclear if the addition of this extra player will help or hinder this complex set of arrangements. The group asked how the concerns raised by HMCI were being addressed by the NCS and how the MoJ, the YJB, the DfE and operators were engaged in this process. A significant piece of work around the workforce in secure settings is now in train, this involves redesigning the role of staff working directly with children and young people, encouraging use of social pedagogy and the provision of additional training. Investments are also being made in the secure estate and in the longer term secure schools will replace YOIs and STCs.

Finally, the group received a short update on the progress of the Association’s plans for the development of regional improvement alliances. This work attempts to formalise, and bring a greater level of coherence to the sector-led improvement arrangements already in place across the nine regions. The LGA and Solace are actively engaged with this work, as is the DfE. The group discussed the importance of all LAs having an equal share and stake in the arrangements and called on ADCS to continue to press on the valuable learning LAs that had been on an improvement journey have to share – it isn’t just ‘good’ LAs that have something to give. Three regions have agreed to pilot these new arrangements in the autumn term. Learning from this exercise would be brought back to a future meeting of the committee.


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Update: HCAN and RS Policy Committees - December 2017

Heath, Care & Additional Needs and Resources & Sustainability Policy Committees

The two committees came together on 3 November in Manchester. The group was joined by representatives from ISOS to discuss the work they have been doing with a number of local authorities to review local SEND strategy and provision. Many LAs are facing the same challenges but do not necessarily have the levers to address these. Local systems are responding to these challenges in different ways and the committees were keen to pull this all together, providing a clear overview of the implementation of the SEND reforms.

A rep from NHS England then joined the group to discuss mental health and wellbeing. NHS England has a wide-ranging programme of work linked to the priorities detailed in Future in Mind including: roll out of CYP IAPT; development of a generic CYP mental health pathway; and, testing new models of crisis care. A review of tier 4 services has also been conducted.

Finally, the group received an update from the HCAN Chair on the Transforming Care Programme. The programme is going well in adult services where NHS England is working closely with ADASS. The work is not as well advanced in children’s services and will come to an end in March 2019, therefore, NSH England are looking for increased engagement with ADCS to help shape the agenda. The committee raised concerns about capacity and funding;.

Outside of the committee meeting, the HCAN Chair has written to the DfE outlining concerns regarding the introduction of a national trial of the single route of redress for the First-tier Tribunal SEND. This will expand the powers of the First-tier Tribunal SEND to enable it to make non-binding recommendations on the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care Plans alongside the educational aspects. Concerns include: the limited funding available to LAs and CCG; the links with already established routes of redress and the role of the Local Government Ombudsman; managing the expectations of children, young people and families; the capacity of the tribunal system to deal with issues of health and social care; and, workforce development. An initial discussion has taken place and a further meeting will take place in December.


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Update: SPI and RS Policy Committees - December 2017

Standards, Performance & Inspection and Resources & Sustainability Policy Committees

The Resources & Sustainability and the Standards, Performance & Inspection Policy Committees came together on Thursday 21 September in London. A rep from Ofsted joined the meeting to discuss the impact of regulation on placements in children’s homes after ADCS raised concerns with the inspectorate about this issue. Demand for placements is high and members noted a growing number of providers are turning down placement requests for high-risk children for fear of their actions impacting on inspection results. Colleagues raised concerns about the speed of notice given on some placements, particularly for children with high needs, and how this must feel for them. It was noted that Ofsted does not examine discharge processes in the same way as admissions and the group felt greater focus in this area could help.

During wide ranging discussions the group also touched on the growing number of private homes opening in areas with low cost housing rather than where the demand / need for greater capacity is required was touched upon as well as the planning issue in two tier authorities – applications are submitted to the district rather than the county council. Might there be an opportunity to close this loophole via Ofsted’s registration process? NHS Digital’s Chief Social Worker then joined the group to discuss the use of technology and data. Much of NHS Digital’s work is focussed on adults however there are several workstreams relating to children, young people and families.

The Department of Health (DoH) is investing £4.2 billion in digitalising the NHS, this may present an issue for children’s services as the social work profession is split and the oversight for children’s social work sits with the DfE not the DoH. The group reflected on the natural relationship between the health service and adult social care noting it is more difficult in children’s services as schools are critical to our work, as are the police. The group wondered if NHS Digital and/or the DoH needed to draw the DfE closer to this agenda to ensure children and young people benefit from this significant investment.


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Update: FCYP and WD Policy Committees - December 2017

Families, Communities & Young People and Workforce Development Policy Committees

The Families, Communities & Young People and the Workforce Development Policy Committees met in Birmingham on Friday 29 September. The group was joined by a rep from the Department for Education’s (DfE’s) Social Work Reform Unit to provide an update on the progress of these important national reforms.

The first cohort of Practice Leaders have begun their training and applications for the second wave are now open. The programme is aimed at those who wish to become an assistant director for safeguarding, however, the group noted these roles often include wider children’s services and corporate responsibilities and this needs to be recognised by the programme.

In terms of the development of the Practice Supervisor role, the DfE is currently scoping out the tender for a lead supplier and has no plans to mandate participation. The group agreed that the transition from a frontline social worker to a supervisor is one of the most difficult to make so it is important to get this right. However, it was noted most LAs have already developed strong relationships with regional providers. The group queried why funds are not being devolved to local areas and/or regions to strengthen these arrangements or support improvement in areas where this provision is less developed? The DfE hope to address variability in provision by exercising central control. The group warned against the dangers of appointing a single, monolithic provider.

On the assessment and accreditation (NAAS) of social workers, the proof of concept phase threw up some significant concerns, not least around equality and diversity. The findings of this exercise have informed an updated model/framework which is now significantly different to the original. A further round of testing is planned - ‘Alpha Phase’ will go live in summer 2018 and ‘Beta Phase’ will go live in 2019. The group raised strong concerns about the ongoing delays around the development of NAAS and the lack of communications from the DfE which is contributing to disquiet across the workforce.

The group reviewed a recent briefing note produced by the Refugee Children’s Consortium on the national transfer scheme (NTS) set up to ensure responsibility for caring for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASCs) arriving in this country does not fall disproportionately on a handful of port authorities. Members agreed it provided a fair summary of the current state of play but felt it lacked a focus on children’s outcomes. In a wide-ranging discussion about regional arrangements multiple members reported dealings with the Home Office (HO) were frequently difficult and raised concerns about the HO grant not covering the full costs of caring for unaccompanied children. Delays in HO decision making about immigration status place a huge amount of stress on young people and more and more are going missing which is a huge concern. The NTS was established in the wake of a humanitarian crisis – the clearance of the migrant camps in Calais - and the immediacy of responding to this crisis has now passed. A period of reflection on the effectiveness and the ongoing suitability of these arrangements is required.

Ofsted recently published a thematic report on domestic abuse following a series of multiagency inspections. The group felt the tone of the report was helpful and the group was hopeful it will help to raise the profile of this issue on the national agenda once again given the prevalence of domestic abuse. A number of LAs are accessing different funding pots to address the prevalence of domestic abuse, securing funds from the relevant Police and Crime Commissioner or from public health budgets. This feedback was passed to Ofsted and the committee thanked them for the publication of a helpful report.


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Update: EA and HCAN Policy Committees - December 2017

Educational Achievement and Health, Care & Additional Needs Policy Committees

The Educational Achievement and the Health, Care & Additional Needs Policy Committees met in Manchester on Friday 22 September. The Chair of the Adoption Leadership Board joined the group to discuss the rising numbers of care orders, greater use of special guardianship orders (SGOs), adopter recruitment and the development of regional adoption agencies. Discussions then turned to the expanded role of the virtual school head under the Children and Social Work Act (2017) to promote the educational achievement of children who have left care via adoption, SGO or child arrangement order. A consultation on draft guidance will take place later this year and final publication is expected in April 2018. The committee raised concerns about capacity and funding - some early estimates suggest the cohort the virtual school is working with could double or even treble in some areas and expectations are unclear about the levels of support potentially on offer at this stage.

The group then turned to progress on the implementation of the SEND reforms, identifying where the challenges and barriers remain in the system. All transfers to education, health and care plans (EHCPs) must be completed by 31 March 2018. Members voiced concerns about the government’s apparent prioritisation of quantity over quality and noted the ongoing demands placed on the workforce. Whilst there is a sense that the new arrangements, which require genuine co-production, are positive, the group agreed that there have been a number of unintended consequences of these reforms and costs are escalating as a result. LAs now hold a duty to provide for children and young adults with SEND up to the age of 25, however this is not resourced either via revenue or capital funding and accessing suitable post-16 provision and/or post-19 provision is a pinch point in many areas.

The committee felt that national education reforms have done little to support the inclusivity agenda in schools - home schooling numbers are going up as are fixed term and permanent exclusions which is impacting on SEND budgets as alternatives are often high cost and pressures on home-to-school transport budgets are mounting. Similarly, there are significant pressures on the capacity of the specialist school estate due to increased demand and a lack of capital investment, recent allocations from the DfE are wholly insufficient to address this issue. There are a number of national policy agendas which interface – integrated personal commissioning, personal budgets, transforming care etc which need to be brought together, not only locally but nationally by the Departments of Education and Health as well.

A rep from the DfE then joined the group to discuss elective home education. The numbers of children who are currently home schooled are unclear and the group suggested the national pupil database could usefully be interrogated to provide an indication of the numbers of pupils being off-rolled. The group raised a specific issue around SEND funding for children who are home schooled, there is a short guidance document on the .gov.uk website but LAs felt this required clarification with regards to meeting costs as queries frequently arise.

Little is known about the views of children and young people who are home schooled or their outcomes, the group also noted that more could usefully be done by Ofsted to look at the informal / illegal exclusions which result in children being educated at home as part of its school inspection activity. The group then turned to the issue of the ‘suitability’ of the home learning experience (which is open to significant interpretation). The importance of ensuring positive outcomes for children and supporting them to thrive was stressed.

The committee also reviewed a near-final version of the Association’s elective home education survey. The survey was circulated to all DCSs w/c 2 October for completion on school census day (5 October). The final deadline for responses was 27 October. The results of the survey have been shared with the ADCS members and key partners and stakeholders.

Outside of the committee meeting, the Chair of HCAN met with DfE officials to discuss the current and future challenges relating to the implementation of the SEND reforms. The importance of continued financial support by way of the SEND implementation grant was stressed along with other points raised by the committee


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NW Region Update Nov 2017 - Improving Social Care Practice and...

This update is dedicated to an ongoing example of our increasingly integrated and sophisticated approach to improving social care practice and systems across the region, working with key partners.

Background

The North West has a rising population of Children Looked After (CLA) and above average rates of children placed on care orders at home. As part of the region’s commitment to sector-led improvement and peer challenge, an in-depth multi-faceted approach has been agreed through the North West ADCS with both Ofsted and Cafcass.

Strands of Activity:

Data

Initial high-level data analysis was undertaken to ascertain prevalence, trend and proportion of CLA who are placed with parents as an initial first step. This analysis was utilised to prepare a regional data pack which was shared with all local Family Justice Boards and/or designated Family Judges in the region. To augment headline findings, a more detailed quantitative analysis was conducted to ascertain the characteristics of CLA subject to care orders at home, including age; factors at the end of assessment; and, their journey through the system including those ceasing to be CLA and/or experiencing placement moves. Through an embryonic partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University, additional research themes are currently being scoped.

Practice and principles

To capture systematically the experiences and responses of both practitioners and managers, a head of service led task and finish group was convened. The group focussed on the system and practice issues which shaped and influenced the handling of cases where children were the subject of care orders and placed with their parents. It identified key considerations for practice in the following areas:

  • Thresholds - Legal Gateway, pre-proceedings, and threshold for removal not met
  • Evidence – including the use of pre-filing meetings prior to final evidence being filed
  • Cafcass - the role, contribution and influence of children’s guardians
  • Independent Review – the contribution of IROs in care orders at home cases
  • Legal advice – role and impact of local authority legal advice
  • Judiciary – judicial decision making including use of alternative orders and discharge
  • Positive use - circumstances when a care order at home should be considered
  • Diversionary practice - approaches predicated on avoidance/discharge of a care order at home
  • Research – use of research-informed assessment, planning and decision making
  • Case studies – identifying examples considered to show good practice.

Regional case file audit

As part of the programme of activity, the region embarked on its first whole-region thematic audit. Directors engaged business intelligence/analysis functions to select randomly three recent cases where children had been placed on full care orders at home with parents. The audits were conducted by a mixture of team managers, senior managers and IROs based within each local authority. All 23 local authorities returned audits that were used to inform the regional findings, with a total of 62 audits which were fit for purpose. Auditors were asked to evaluate the 12-month period prior to the final hearing at which the care order at home with parents was made. The cases were audited across nine domains:

  • Response to risk
  • Is the work child-centred?
  • Management oversight and decision making
  • Assessments
  • Co-ordination of agencies
  • Plans
  • Effectiveness of reviews
  • Quality of placement
  • Impact on children and young people.

Using the same child-level list, local Cafcass colleagues conducted a concurrent ‘dip sample’ approach to audit in order to bring an additional perspective and triangulate findings. LA and Cafcass audit outcomes are being collated and analysed by a lead LA quality assurance manager with themes prevalent in a high number of audits considered in the context of regional and national data and research. A comprehensive report is currently being finalised and will be presented to North West ADCS for consideration in order to shape local and regional strategic and practice responses.

Responding with partners

Through our increasingly established programme of ‘Better for Children’ seminars, we will work with Ofsted’s senior HMI, heads of service from Cafcass and a lead local authority to deliver an improvement seminar. With representatives from practice leadership and management; quality assurance functions; LA legal services; and Cafcass the session will identify learning from inspection, practice and audit activity and inform local and regional action planning. The session is due to be delivered on 5 December 2017.

Further information, including the nature of data collection, audit tools or other detail, please contact Paul Bunker, Regional Development Manager, NWADCS in the first instance paul.bunker@stockport.gov.uk It is hoped that wider system learning will be able to be shared more widely once the work is concluded and any action planning is completed.


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Future ADCS Vice President

Future ADCS Vice President

Commenting in CYP Now Alison Michalska, President of ADCS, said:

“I am delighted that Rachel will be taking up the important role of ADCS Vice President in April. Children’s services are facing some of their most pressing challenges so it’s vital that the sector has a strong, unified and consistent voice which places children at the heart of the national agenda. I am confident that Rachel will embrace the variety of challenges and opportunities the role will bring.”

ENDS


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ADCS Vice President 2018/19

Rachel Dickinson
Rachel Dickinson

Rachel Dickinson, Executive Director People, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council has been appointed as the next ADCS Vice President, starting April 2018.

Rachel will become ADCS President in April 2019.

Commenting on Rachel’s appointment in CYP Now, Alison Michalska, current ADCS President, said:

“I am delighted that Rachel will be taking up the important role of ADCS Vice President in April. Children’s services are facing some of their most pressing challenges so it’s vital that the sector has a strong, unified and consistent voice which places children at the heart of the national agenda. I am confident that Rachel will embrace the variety of challenges and opportunities the role will bring.”


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Minister Goodwill speech at NCASC 2017

Minister of State for Children and Families, Robert Goodwill, delivered a keynote speech to the 2017 National Children and Adult Services Conference in Bournemouth. A transcript of the speech can be found via the link below.

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Speech - A country that works for all children

Alison Michalska speech at A country that works for all children session at the National Children and Adult Services Conference 2017, Bournemouth.

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The ADCS report A country that works for all children can be found here.


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ADCS President’s Speech NCASC 2017

ADCS President - Alison Michalska’s - opening address to National Children and Adult Services Conference 2017

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A Country That Works For All Children

A country that works for all children explores the impact of different initiatives and policies on children’s lives and outcomes, touching on child poverty, welfare reforms, the impact of austerity across the breadth of children’s services, including schools, and early help. The paper calls for a marshalling of resources across the various government departments, a reaffirmation of the value of preventative services and the establishment of a cross-government review to understand better the reasons for, and links between, rising levels of child poverty and demand for children’s statutory services.

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A country that works for all children - press release

ADCS launches new policy paper

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) today publishes a new policy position paper outlining its view on what a country that works for all children looks like.

The paper highlights the issues in current public policy, including the impact of austerity and an increasingly fragmented approach to public services, overlaid with rising levels of child poverty that are cumulatively having a negative impact on children and families. The paper sets out a clear way forward to improve services and outcomes for children, young people and their families and includes a number of priority action areas for government.

Local authorities are committed to providing high quality services for vulnerable children and their families but this is becoming increasingly tough. On average local authority budgets have reduced by 40% since 2010. Local authorities have worked hard to minimise the impact of these cuts on our communities by redesigning and reshaping their services and finding innovative solutions to do more with less, but non-statutory services such as children’s centres and youth services have had to be significantly scaled back or cut altogether as a result. LGA colleagues have estimated that children’s services face a £2bn funding gap by 2020. A gap that if ignored will seriously compromise our ability to prevent problems from escalating to the point of crisis and result in the needs of children and families being left unmet.

Alison Michalska, ADCS President, said: “How we care for, educate and support our children today is an indication of how successful our country will be tomorrow. Sadly, the reality for a growing number of children and their families is bleak. There are currently four million children living in poverty, a rising number of families relying on food banks and an increasing number of children are going hungry yet not enough national attention or resources are being focused on preventing these or other issues that children and young people face today. Poverty damages childhoods; it damages life chances; and it damages the economic prosperity of our country. Children living in poverty are more likely to have poorer health outcomes than those living in less deprived communities as well as poorer nutrition both of which affect their ability to learn both academically and socially. The government has consistently stated its ambition to build ‘a country that works for everyone’, to achieve this aim ADCS members believe we must first start with ‘a country that works for all children’.

She went on to say: “Financial pressures in children’s services and other public agencies, especially the NHS, police and education, alongside reforms in health, education, social care, welfare and youth and community policy are all taking their toll on our communities. A country that works for children is good for adults, the economy and public services too. Providing help and support to children and families early is the only way to reduce demand for high end statutory services and health and social care in the long run, not doing so is a false economy and, fundamentally, is not in children and young people’s best interests. In a country that works for all children meeting children’s needs and improving their outcomes would be at the core of all public policy. Government would take a long-term strategic view of how we invest in our public services, particularly early help services. This is what we should aspire for, this is what our children truly deserve.

Alison Michalska concluded: “There is a clear and urgent need to do things differently and this must start with the government using the autumn Budget to reaffirm their commitment to children and young people. We must build a country that works for all children – without this the scale of human and financial costs in years to come will be devastating.”

The full ADCS policy position paper, ‘A country that works for all children’, can be found here.

ENDS


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President’s NCASC Speech - Press Release

ADCS President’s opening address National Children and Adult Services Conference

On Wednesday 11 October 2017, Alison Michalska, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) gave her opening address at the National Children and Adult Services (NCAS) conference in Bournemouth.

On deprivation

“We are I think, I hope, beginning to see a move away from some aspects of austerity but families living in deprived areas will continue to suffer unless some flexibility can be introduced to the benefits regime. ADCS has today published a new policy position paper, ‘A country that works for all children’, which highlights the issues in current public policy, including the impact of austerity and an increasingly fragmented approach to public services overlaid with poverty, that are cumulatively having a negative impact on children and their families.”

On supporting migrant and asylum seeking children and families

“This is a massive challenge for us all. Nevertheless, it is a moral duty to support people fleeing from unimaginable horrors. It’s hard to know with precision just how much money local government spends every year supporting families who have no recourse to public funds we think it entirely possible that this figure is well over £100 million a year. These vulnerable families have no legal entitlement to financial support or assistance from the state. But councils cannot and will not leave these families in destitution.”

On systems leadership

“Improved outcomes for children must be the golden thread running through government policy and I include in that Brexit negotiations. Indeed, it must be the foundation of building a country that works for all children. I was asked recently at a conference I was speaking at, what would be the one thing I would ask of the Prime Minister if she was in the room. The answer was easy…please Prime Minister will you be a systems leader for children across government, exerting your influence in the interests of children. I would like the Prime Minister to be a ‘super-DCS’ seeking policy coordination and the marshalling of resources from across the multitude of central government departments with responsibilities for aspects of children’s lives.”

On sector-led improvement

“ADCS, the LGA and Solace have been working together on a proposition for the creation of a trusted and coherent sector-led improvement model in children’s services. A model that not only catches authorities before they fall, but also matches the strengths and areas for development in authorities on an improvement trajectory. Every council has something to give and every council has something to learn regardless of the dangerously over-simplistic one-word judgement labels bestowed upon them by Ofsted. The expertise and the skills required to improve children’s services lie within the sector itself but the sector needs resourcing so it can build capacity that can be released and shared safely and we are talking to the DfE about this.”

The full speech can be found here

The ADCS policy position paper, ‘A country that works for all children’, can be fo on the ADCS website - www.adcs.org.uk< p="">

ENDS


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Comment on new school information regulations

Commenting on a recent duty placed on local authorities in relation to raising awareness of university technical colleges (UTCs) with pupils and their families, Alison Michalska, ADCS President, said:

“Local authorities have a duty to promote education options for children and young people in their local areas, most do this via their website. Changes to regulations regarding school information earlier this year mean that local authorities must now write to parents to tell them about the option for their child to leave school aged 14 to attend a local university technical college or studio school, as this represents a new burden for already stretched council budgets this funding goes towards the costs of this activity. Where it is possible local authorities will always use the cheapest form of communication such as email however some will have to write out to parents.”

Ends


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ADCS and Cafcass agreement about social work in care proceedings

A spokesperson for ADCS and Cafcass said:

“The agreement between ADCS and Cafcass about how local authorities and Cafcass can work effectively in a set of care proceedings and pre-proceedings was developed with the intention of improving the standard of social work and tackling delays in the family court. The document was never intended to undermine the independence of children’s guardians, nor was it intended to shut out parents or their representatives from due process within proceedings. Due to concerns raised by some stakeholders we took the decision to withdraw the document in question. ADCS and Cafcass regularly promote good practice throughout the social work sector and will continue to look for ways we can work effectively in the best interests of children and their families.”

ENDS


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ADCS response to ‘Revolving Door’ report

Responding to a new report by Action for Children, Alison Michalska, ADCS President, said:

“It’s important that children and families receive the right support at the right time and this is not always done via formal intervention from children’s services. Following a referral, a thorough assessment is undertaken and where there are no further concerns or where the threshold for statutory support is not reached it is common for children and families to be signposted to other support services such as children’s centres, youth services and parenting programmes. It is in the best interest of children and families that we provide support at an earlier stage to prevent problems reaching crisis point. But this is getting harder to do as early help and preventative services have faced the brunt of government cuts.

“The impact of seven years of austerity and rising demand on the vital services we provide to children, young people and families cannot be underestimated. Councils are working hard to reduce costs, make savings and minimise the impact of cuts on the communities that we serve by reshaping services and harnessing capacity within the local community amongst other things. But reductions in early help and preventative services have been necessary in order to balance the books. Colleagues at the LGA estimate that children’s services face an expected funding gap of £2bn by 2020. If we are to create a country that works for all children government must recognise the funding crisis of the moment. Without this our ability to protect children and young people from harm will be seriously compromised.”

ENDS


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President’s speech at annual conference - Press Release

President’s address at the ADCS Annual Conference 2017

On Thursday 6 July 2017, Alison Michalska, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) gave her address at the ADCS Annual Conference in Manchester.

On resourcing a country that works for all children

“Children’s services are enduring relentless pressure as funding decreases whilst demand most definitely does not. The task of balancing council budgets is tougher than ever before as we simultaneously seek to manage demand, reduce spending and improve outcomes. To protect vital statutory services, early help and preventative services have, in some places, been severely reduced despite our desire to help children and young people by intervening early. Add to this the factors outside of our direct influence that increase demand on our services and strapped resources including a lack of affordable housing and rising levels of child poverty. It is unsurprising, therefore that the funding gap for children’s services is as big, if not bigger than that of adult social care. The LGA estimates that the funding gap in children’s services is likely to be £2bn by 2020. This gap needs to be plugged and it should be done, like all good social work assessments, on a needs basis. The future resourcing of children’s services should connect need with funding.

“Without additional resources this figure will continue to increase as the pressures facing children’s services, and the demands on our partners deepen. I know that government will want to do the right thing by children. ADCS urges government to think big, think system wide and think prevention. We urge priority action across government so that resources for children are marshalled with a view to achieving a cross-party, long term, coherent, strategic whole system approach to helping early everywhere, premised upon an inclusive ‘societal’ vision for all ages, abilities and communities of children.”

On early help and prevention

“It is estimated that there are 4 million children living in poverty – that’s almost one third of the total child population. A growing number of those children live in working households; this is a relatively new phenomenon, exacerbated by insecure jobs and an inflexible welfare regime. We should support and supplement families’ endeavours, especially when parenting difficulties are compounded by poverty and deprivation, rather than pathologizing their needs for early help. The most effective way of doing so is to prioritise and therefore resource, universalist, preventative children’s services. Some may think this is a backwards step, harking back to the days of every child matters. Well, the past can illuminate the present, every child does matter. We do need government to work with us to throw the juggernaut into reverse before our children’s services become wholly reactive, specialist, blue light services funded on a fraying shoestring.”

On improving children’s outcomes

“ADCS does not take a simplistic view that delivering better outcomes for children simply requires more spending. We know there is much to be achieved - both for children, and for more efficient use of resources - by transforming culture, practice and systems, but the government’s touching faith in structure as a means of improving children’s outcomes is not one that ADCS members share. The structuralist pursuit of creating trusts, and other arm’s length bodies of various descriptions - social enterprises, staff mutuals and in fact Multi-Academy Trusts - brings an ‘accountability buffer’ between service users and those accountable for ensuring services are provided. In all cases the council remains accountable because of its various sufficiency duties. The proliferation of distributed actors in our school and social care systems makes behaviour change even more complex amongst what is already an elaborate array of providers, watchers, checkers and doers.”

On a self-improving system for children’s services

“Inspection outcomes appear to suggest that a successful children’s social care service can only operate in a successful wider children’s services context. One where the corporate and political leadership is well informed and engaged, providing effective support and challenge. Moreover, wider children’s services can only thrive where they are seen as an intrinsic means by which councils are transforming and shaping the places for which they are responsible. It is my firm view that councils are uniquely placed to transform local areas, making neighbourhoods, villages, towns and cities places that work for all children and their families. I do however acknowledge that in some circumstances a poor children’s service may be symptomatic of broader council failings and in those thankfully rare circumstances a trust might be the right solution. This does not negate the fact that councils are responsible for their own improvement, but collectively we are all responsible for the performance of the sector. This must be our self-imposed improvement mandate. This is not about improvement in pursuit of a better Ofsted rating, it’s about embedding improvement as a habit not a goal.”

On elective home education

“ADCS has been raising concerns with the DfE about home education for some time. It’s hard to be sure, but we think there are at least 30,000 EHE pupils in England. Some parents have legitimate concerns that their local schools are not catering for their children’s needs and thus elect to educate them at home. We also know from surveying our members that some schools use home education as a means of off-rolling pupils who are unlikely to hit their exams grades. And of course, there are significant safeguarding and child protection concerns if home education is used as a cover for attendance at illegal, unregistered schools. Might the answer be finding a way to incentivise schools to be inclusive so they are not tempted to exclude and ‘off-roll’ in the pursuit of academic excellence at all costs?”

On school places

“We will need something like an additional 729,000 school places across England by 2020, this is equivalent to building an additional 2000 schools. Shortages of school places in London, the south east and core cities such as Bristol, Manchester and Nottingham are particularly acute, while some rural areas are continuing to experience a surplus of school places. We need to remain vigilant however, because the Green Paper that contained the grammar school proposals also proposed allowing existing academy schools to become selective. This would add even greater pressures into the system and potentially create new ones too. ADCS would advocate a twofold approach to the provision of more school places. Firstly, by increasing the number of good school places available to all families, in places where they are actually needed, ideally embedded in local communities, serving the needs of that community. Of course, this is rather more complicated in large or sparsely populated rural areas, but as a nation we spend £1 billion on home-to-school transport. Secondly, by giving education providers with a strong track record the right incentives to expand their offer to more pupils. Let me be absolutely clear, I include in this local authority maintained schools which are currently the only providers not allowed to compete to open new schools.”

The full speech can be found on the ADCS website

ENDS


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Annual Conference 2017 Presidential Address

Annual Conference 2017 Presidential Address

Speech by ADCS President, Alison Michalska, at the 2017 ADCS Annual Conference.

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Annual Conference 2017

Presentations and speeches from this year’s conference will be posted here when available.

Plenary sessions:

Session: Presidential address

Session: Cumulative impact of welfare reform on children and families:

Session: Ministerial address

Session: The right care placement, for the right child, at the right time and in the right place

Session: Keynote address - Ofsted

Session: Keynote address - Education Endowment Foundation

Session: Recovery from a Major Incident:


Workshops:

Thursday:

A: SEND strategic planning and delivery (pdf)

B: Leadership and alternative models of delivery

C: A country that works for all children

D:Turning multi-agency safeguarding reforms into reality

E: Reaffirming the role of the local authority in education

Friday:

A: Pathways through the emotional health and wellbeing system

B: Demand management - squaring the circle

C: Learning from workforce innovations

D: Promoting the safety and welfare of all learners | Tri-borough handout | Luton handout

E: Data, improvement and inspection | North West region handout | Waltham Forest handout 1 | Waltham Forest handout 2 | Nottingham City handout 1 | Nottingham City handout 2



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ADCS response to the measures announced in the Queen’s speech

Responding to the measures announced in the Queen’s speech Alison Michalska, ADCS President, said:

“We welcome the government’s commitment to protecting victims of domestic violence and abuse including stricter sentences for perpetrators if abusive behaviour involves a child. We know from our own research that domestic violence is increasingly common amongst the families that we work with and can have a devastating and intergenerational impact on children and families. Putting an end to the direct cross examination of victims in the family courts will prevent any additional trauma for victims. A continued focus on improving mental health services is also welcome. It is vital that we do not lose focus on the ongoing Future in Mind programme, any measures proposed in the forthcoming Green Paper on children and young people’s mental health must complement and support this.

“Local authorities share the government’s desire for every child to attend a good or outstanding school, yet we increasingly lack the capacity to influence where new school places are created. The government must recognise that there is not enough money in the education system rather than focussing on the way in which existing funding is distributed to schools. And must ensure that the urgent problems facing the school system are not overlooked, namely bringing coherence across a rapidly changing education system, addressing the current crisis in teacher recruitment and retention, as well as addressing the funding shortages that many schools face. Children’s services face funding shortages of their own and there was very little information in today’s speech about the future of local government financing. With fundamental changes to the way in which we are funded expected in 2020, there is a need for more clarity on this issue as a matter of urgency.”

ENDS


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Mental Wellbeing Advice Manchester Terror Attack

Mental wellbeing advice following the Manchester Arena Incident

This guidance, prepared by colleagues from agencies across Greater Manchester, is aimed at anyone exposed to the incident at Manchester Arena that took place on 22 May 2017. The emotional effects will be felt by survivors, bereaved families, friends, emergency services, health care workers and the general public. If you witnessed or lost someone in the attack you will most certainly have a strong reaction. Reactions are likely to be strongest in those closest to the incident, who directly witnessed the aftermath and who were involved in the immediate care of victims.

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Safeguarding Children and Families following a Terrorist Attack and/or Incident

In addition to the above guidance, Greater Manchester Police has produced a guidance document entitled Safeguarding Children and Families following a Terrorist Attack and/or Incident.

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Summary of Conservative and Labour Party Manifestos re...

This document aims to bring together key proposals in the Conservative and Labour party manifestos 2017 that may be relevant to you in your role as director of children’s services, it does not aim to be a comprehensive guide to the manifestos in full.

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DCS update 2017

DCS update 2017

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) today, 28 April, publishes the directors of children’s services (DCS) update 2017 using data from the Association’s membership year 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017.

ADCS has gathered and recorded detailed information about changes in post holders of the statutory DCS role since the Association was established in 2007. We also record the number of directors who hold both statutory roles of DCS and director of adult social services (DASS), referred to as ‘twin hat’ arrangements. The report offers some year-on-year comparisons, several of which date back to 2007, in order to highlight trends and patterns of change.

Alison Michalska, ADCS President, said: “This year marks ten years since the creation of ADCS so the latest DCS update is particularly interesting, given that some, but not all, of its data goes back ten years, providing us with some interesting trends and analysis over the past decade. We know that stability and continuity in leadership is important in the delivery of services to children, young people and families at a local level, children and families tell us this themselves, and the report shows that this year we have seen the lowest number of annual changes in DCS post holders since 2011/12, alongside an increase in the average tenure of directors in the same role since 2012/13. The use of short term interim arrangements pending a permanent appointment is commonplace. This is an important part of ensuring that there is a single and ultimate line of accountability for outcomes for children and young people in a locality at any given time, particularly in pressured circumstances. There are currently 16 interim directors in post, nine of which have previously been a DCS in another local authority.

“Whilst there has been an overall downward trend in total change over the past four years there have been peaks and troughs since 2007/08 so few assumptions can be made. Some regions have experienced more change than others in this time but there is no single reason for this, and it might include directors retiring from or leaving their posts and interim arrangements.

“There has been a continuing trend of more local authorities moving away from ‘twin hat’ arrangements compared to those combining services, however the total number of ‘twin hatters’ in recent years has remained relatively constant. This is likely to continue as local authorities continue to seek arrangements that meet local needs. Over the past decade, around two thirds of all local authorities have at some point had ‘twin hat’ arrangements in place, this picture continues to change as local authorities combine and disaggregate their services.”

The full DCS update 2017 can be found on the ADCS website – www.adcs.org.uk

ENDS


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ADCS DCS Update 2016-17

ADCS gathers and records information about changes in post holders of the statutory DCS role; we also record the number of directors who hold both statutory roles of DCS and DASS (we refer to these posts as ‘twin hat’). This analysis focusses on the ADCS membership year 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017. It also offers year-on-year comparisons, going back to 2007, in order to highlight trends and patterns of change.

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Announcement on a snap general election

Responding to the announcement of a snap general election Alison Michalska, ADCS President, said:

“Local government has experienced seven years of uncertainty and change due to austerity. Our services do not look like they did a decade ago as a result of significant funding reductions from central government, and despite local authorities having worked extremely hard to minimise the impact of these cuts on our communities by innovating and collaborating, children’s services face a £1.9bn funding gap by 2020. We have to have a realistic picture of what the impact of these cuts has been and will be in the future. We cannot allow this election to overshadow the ever-deepening pressures on children’s social care and in our schools. ADCS is, therefore, keen to hear what all of the main parties will do to support our most vulnerable children and young people and how they aim to create a country that really works for our children.”

ENDS


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Alison Michalska’s Inaugural Presidential Speech

ADCS President, Alison Michalska, made her inaugural speech on 6 April 2017 at the BMA in London.

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Increases in remand fees

Responding to the news that the YJB are increasing fees for remand, Jenny Coles, Chair of the Association’s Families, Communities and Young People Policy Committee, said:

“Youth offending teams have experienced a significant decrease in their funding from central government in recent years. We’re at risk of this having an impact on the outstanding success these teams have made to date. That being said, across children’s services there are significant continuing pressures, we face a £1.9bn funding gap by 2020. These increased fees will place already stretched council budgets under even further strain at a time when demand for our services is high. It must be recognised that reductions to local authority budgets to date alongside the cumulative effect of reductions right across public services have and will impact heavily on our work and our ability to make the biggest difference to the most vulnerable children and young people.”

ENDS


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Peer support programme for children’s services

Commenting in The MJ on the benefits of a peer support programme for the sector Alison Michalska, ADCS President, said:

“Much wisdom and willingness lies within the sector and so it follows that the sector itself is best placed to share good practice, innovation and drive improvement in services for children and families. Professionals and politicians must work closely together to ensure that we can create a sustainable, self-improving system for children’s services so that services continue to effectively meet the needs of local residents, especially in such challenging times, when resources are reduced but demand most definitely is not. We must also collectively bust the myth that you have to be good or better to have something to offer to others – this is not true. All local authorities, irrespective of their Ofsted judgement, have something to contribute towards a self-improving system and, equally, we all have something to learn.”

ENDS


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Spring Budget 2017

Commenting on Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring Budget announcement Dave Hill, President of ADCS, said:

“The government has today announced that it will invest £320m to fund 140 more free schools. Whilst additional funding to create more schools at a time when we face a growing shortage of school places is welcome, the Department for Education must work with local authorities to ensure that new schools are built in areas of need and are developed in line with local authority sufficiency challenges. Schools are facing funding pressures, a growing teacher recruitment crisis and overcrowded classrooms. Investment in education is an investment in children and young people’s futures and central government needs to ensure that funding across the whole school system is sustainable and effective.”

“The government also announced that it will expand the entitlement for free home to school transport to children attending the nearest selective school in their area. In 2015/16 local authorities spent around £1bn a year on home to school transport; whilst supporting disadvantaged children and young people to access education is absolutely right, extending the selective system and transport offer is not the correct way to do this. This places a significant new burden on local authorities which must be adequately funded by government.

“We are pleased that the government has invested more money into adult social care but we urge the government to recognise the growing pressures in children’s social care too. Over the past decade councils have been forced to make extremely tough choices in children’s services at a time when more vulnerable children and families need help and support but funding for these services continues to erode. To date we have protected vital services for children and young people by creatively redesigning services or through the pooling together of local budgets but the impact of austerity on our communities is now all too evident. With fundamental changes in the way that councils are funded on the horizon, and with the LGA estimating that children’s services face a £1.9bn funding gap by 2020, it is important that challenges facing vital services for children, young people and their families are given the recognition and long term, sustainable funding that they both need and deserve. Without this we will be letting down generations of children and young people.”

ENDS


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WD policy committee update Feb 2017

The committee met four times in 2016, this included joint meetings with the EA, FCYP and SPI policy committees. A fifth meeting focussing on social work reform was also arranged at the request of the DfE. Guests included the DfE, NCTL, the Restorative Justice Council and Health Education England. WD submitted two consultation responses and made a submission to the Education Select Committee regarding the government’s social work reforms, members also published a position statement on assessment and accreditation. Other areas of focus in 2016 included teacher recruitment / retention and apprenticeships.

2017

Social work reform looks set to remain firmly on the WD agenda in 2017, in particular: assessment and accreditation, development programmes, and the new regulator. The group will be joining up with the HCAN, FCYP and EA committees to discuss shared areas of interest, including the mental health workforce, apprenticeship trailblazers and the education workforce. The committee will also pick up the workforce related recommendations in government’s response to the Narey review of residential care.


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SPI Policy Committee update Feb 2017

The committee met four times in 2016, this included joint meetings with WD, EA and FCYP. Guests included senior figures from the education and social care sides of Ofsted and the ISOS Partnership. The committee had a keen focus on sector-led improvement throughout 2016 along with newly introduced inspection regimes concerned with multi-agency safeguarding arrangements and SEND reforms plus the development of the new universal framework for children’s social care. SPI led on the development of two significant consultations on the inspection of children’s social care. Members of the committee sit on six external groups on behalf of the Association.

2017

SPI will join up with the EA, HCAN and FCYP committees in 2017 to discuss shared areas of interest, including sector-led improvement, the inspection of illegal schools, the new SEND inspection and the ongoing development of the universal inspection framework that will replace the current single inspection (SIF) inspection early in 2018. The committee will continue to liaise closely with the National Information Performance Management Group, the DfE, Ofsted and others to minimise burdens on local authorities in terms of planned and ad-hoc data requests.


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RS policy committee update Feb 2017

The committee met four times in 2016, this included joint meetings with EA, FCYP and HCAN. Guests included the Cabinet Office, the Early Intervention Foundation, Link Maker, DfE and Social Finance. School funding reforms have been a consistent focus throughout 2016, the committee also published a think piece on the future of children’s services entitled ‘Pillars and Foundations.’ R&S led on the development of three consultation responses, each concerned with the government’s wide ranging school funding reforms. Three members of the committee sit on external groups on behalf of the Association.

2017

R&S will be joining up with the EA, FCYP and HCAN committees in 2017. School funding will continue to be a focus and the group will lead on the development of the Association’s response to the second phase of the school funding consultation and will also pick up the place planning and sufficiency aspects of the government’s response to the green paper, ‘Schools that work for everyone.’ The committee will also pick up the recommendations from the Narey report linked to commissioning, such as the testing of new arrangements via the DfE Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme.


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HCAN policy committee update Feb 2017

The committee met three times in 2016, this included joint meetings with R&S and FCYP policy committees. Guests at these meetings included the DoH, the MoJ, DfE, the Council for Disabled Children, NHS England and the National Audit Office. Key areas of focus included SEND reforms, adoption, welfare secure and mental health. HCAN submitted evidence to the Education Select Committee’s inquiry on foster care on behalf of the Association. HCAN members are representing ADCS on 28 separate external groups.

2017

In 2017 the committee will continue its focus on SEND, mental health, complex needs, children in care and care leavers. It will pick up the government’s response to Sir Martin Narey’s review of residential care, including engagement with the residential leadership board and the fostering stocktake. Other areas of planned focus include transforming care and a continued emphasis on children and young people’s mental health services, the committee will also respond to the recently announced green paper on CAMHS. Joint meetings are planned with FCYP, R&S, EA and WD policy committees.


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FCYP policy committee update Feb 2017

The group met four times in 2016 which included joint meetings with HCAN, R&S, WD and SPI committees. Members of FCYP welcomed guests from the Early Intervention Foundation, DoH, National Police Chiefs Council, the Cabinet Office, Health Education England, the DWP, Ofsted, the National Audit Office and Charlie Taylor / the Ministry of Justice. Key areas of focus in 2016 have included early years, youth justice, UASC and demand for services. The committee led on the development of three significant consultation responses in 2016 concerning a new definition of CSE, the youth justice review and mandatory reporting. In addition, members of the committee have contributed to round table discussions on the review of LSCBs, SCR process and the future of CDOP and will continue to liaise with DfE as plans move forward. Members of FCYP sit on 26 external groups on behalf of the Association.

2017

The committee will be looking at the interface between welfare secure and Tier 4 provision with the HCAN committee in early 2017 as well as the impact of deprivation on demand for services, UASC, social work reform and sector-led improvement. The committee will also pick up the government’s response to mandatory reporting, the forthcoming children’s centre consultation, the ongoing review of secure children’s homes, the new social justice green paper (which is expected to replace the previously announced ‘Life chances strategy’) and the new national strategy for youth services. FCYP is also inputting into an LGA-led early years conference in the spring.


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EAPC Update February 2017

The committee met four times in 2016, which included joint meetings with the SPI, R&S and WD policy committees and welcomed guests from Ofsted, the Fostering Network, the DfE, NCTL and the Restorative Justice Council. Key areas of focus in 2016 included children missing from mainstream education, the attainment of children in care, relationships with RSCs and the green and white papers published by the government on education. The committee led on the development of three significant consultation responses in 2016 on supplementary schools, children missing from education and the green paper on education and contributed to the ADCS response to ‘Education Excellence Everywhere.’ Four EA committee members sit on external groups on behalf of ADCS.

In 2017 the committee plans to look at school improvement, capital and place planning, inclusion, inspection, sector-led improvement, SEND reforms, curriculum, the attainment of children in care and the education workforce. Joint meetings are planned with the R&S, SPI, HCAN and WD committees. In 2017, the committee will pick up the government’s response to the ‘Schools that work for everyone,’ a further green paper is expected in 2017 following the publication and subsequent withdrawal of ‘Education Excellence Everywhere,’ along with a new national strategy on careers advice in schools.


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Future ADCS Vice President

Commenting in CYP Now Dave Hill, President of ADCS, said:

“I am pleased that Stuart will be taking up the important and wide-ranging role of ADCS vice president in April. Now more than ever the sector needs strong leadership to give voice to the challenges facing children and young people and I am confident that he will rise to the challenge.”

ENDS


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Six New Opportunity Areas - Comment

Commenting on the launch of six new ‘opportunity areas’ Dave Hill, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said:

“Additional support and investment for disadvantaged areas is a positive thing and we welcome the Department for Education working together with local authorities and others to achieve change. We must maintain a relentless focus on improving outcomes for children and young people at all times to ensure that this initiative helps them to achieve their full potential.”

ENDS


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Comment on outsourcing in children’s services and the...

Commenting on outsourcing in children’s services and the recently published LaingBuisson report, Dave Hill, President of ADCS, said:

“When planning and delivering services for children and young people, it’s vital that the focus is on outcomes, over a particular method of delivery or type of provider. It is important to note that current legislation prohibits profit making from children’s social care and the government’s response to the recently published LaingBuisson report restates this position. This is right. The private sector is already heavily involved in many areas of children’s services including in the foster care and residential care sectors and through the supply of agency social workers. However, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to delivering children’s services and local areas must be free to put in place the best arrangements to suit local needs and protect the interests of our most vulnerable children, young people and families.”

ENDS


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FCYP and SPI committee update December 2016

Families, Communities & Young People and Standards, Performance & Inspection Policy Committee

The Families, Communities & Young People Policy Committee met with the Standards, Performance & Inspection Policy Committee on Thursday 22 September in London.

Senior representatives from Ofsted attended the meeting to discuss emerging plans for the self-assessment element of the next universal inspection framework for assuring children’s social care services in local areas. The focus of this exercise will be primarily on social work practice. During group discussions differing views emerged about the format this might usefully take and many were keen to understand how the wider corporate context and use of resources would be taken into account. The interface between this new activity and existing regional sector-led improvement efforts was also raised. This must not be ‘something that is simply done for Ofsted,’ and should not represent an additional burden. Wherever possible existing information and analysis should be used. The inspectorate is keen to pilot the self-assessment in early 2017 with a sub-regional grouping of local authorities.

The group then considered a report from the regional performance and information management network on benchmarking efforts, focussing on the similarities and differences across the country. Some arrangements are more developed than others but there was a general consensus that this activity provides a valuable foundation for improvement efforts. Discussions then moved onto peer challenge arrangements in regions and the development of shared work plans. Colleagues from the east Midlands discussed the development of their memorandum of understanding and how this works in practice.

The first substantive draft of the Association’s response to the consultation on the introduction of mandatory reporting for the abuse and neglect of children was discussed. The consultation acknowledged that reporting rates into children’s social care are higher in the UK than in countries such as Australia and America despite those countries that have had such arrangements in place for some time. Overall, the group was concerned about the lack of evidence that this would improve outcomes for children and has the very real potential to swamp the child protection system.

The final item on the agenda was a discussion about unaccompanied asylum seeking (and migrant) children following the launch of the national transfer scheme over the summer months. Arrangements are still evolving and local authorities are in regular dialogue with the Home Office and Department for Education about placement sufficiency and funding. The group also touched on how best to facilitate a knowledge exchange to help those authorities with less experience of meeting the needs of UASCs to develop new services and responses to best meet their needs.

Members of the Families, Communities & Young People and the Standards, Performance & Inspection Policy Committee took part in several workshops and discussion at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Manchester in early November.

The Families, Communities & Young People Policy Committee will meet with the Health, Care & Additional Needs Policy Committee in the New Year in London. The Standards, Performance & Inspection Policy Committee will also meet in January.


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RS committee update December 2016

Update from the Resources & Sustainability Policy Committee for the December meeting of the ADCS Council of Reference

Resources & Sustainability Policy Committee

The Resources and Sustainability Policy Committee met on 14th October to focus primarily on developing a better understanding of costs associated with supporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children. As part of Safeguarding Pressures 5, a thematic supplementary report on unaccompanied asylum seeking children will be produced which will include a costing model. The committee considered the draft model and suggested areas for further consideration.

The committee considered the financial case for early help and recognised that much work had been done in this area. The recently published NAO report on child protection references early help, the DfE behavioural insights unit are interested in this and the EIF have published evidence on the costs of late intervention.

The committee’s business plan was revisited and updated to reflect new priorities and areas of interest such as: understanding the cost of new burdens associated with the implementation of the Children and Social Work Bill; the impact of devolution; joint funding, commissioning and links to sustainability and transformation plans; the Narey review and fostering stocktake; and, the removal of ESG. Since the committee meeting, the ADCS President and Chair of the Committee have written to the Secretary of State to seek clarification on the future of ESG.

The committee discussed the implications of a recent initial judgement which suggested secure orders made by English courts placing children in secure units in Scotland could not be enforced. ADCS has been working closely with DfE for the last two years in a review of the provision of secure services and has urged government to develop a strategic national approach to the commissioning of this provision. ADCS continues to engage with DfE officials who have been leading the review.

The next meeting of the Resources and Sustainability Policy Committee is on 27th January 2017. This is a joint meeting with the Educational Achievement Policy Committee.


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HCAN committee update December 2016

Health, Care & Additional Needs Policy Committee

The Health, Care & Additional Needs Policy Committee last met on 22nd September. Representatives from the DfE attended to discuss the various strands of policy development in relation to children in care. The fostering stocktake will bring a focus on fostering which is long overdue however the committee were clear that this cannot be viewed in isolation, fostering must be considered as part of the wider care system. The discussion touched on the need to develop the market to ensure the right services are available to meet need, to shift commissioning practices to focus more on outcomes, and develop a better understanding of effective interventions.

Colleagues from Hampshire County Council (HCC) attended the meeting to share with the committee high level data from the welfare secure coordination unit. HCC have been running the interim coordination unit since May 2016 and are developing a rich dataset about the young people referred for a secure placement. Conversations with DfE are ongoing about the capacity of the secure estate and the need to address the increasing pressures relating to the sufficiency of services.

The committee welcomed representatives from NHS England to provide an update on the work taking place to support the implementation of future in mind. An analysis of the local transformation plans has taken place and the key messages coming from this include the need to engage with parents/ carers more, develop a better understanding of how data is gathered across the system and how this links to outcomes, and the demanding challenges around the workforce. Guidance on refreshing local transformation plans has been published and these must be submitted by October.

The next meeting of the Health, Care & Additional Needs Policy Committee is a joint meeting with the Families, Communities & Young People Policy Committee on 20th January 2017.


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EA and WD committee update December 2016

Educational Achievement Policy Committee and Workforce Development Policy Committee

The Workforce Development Policy Committee (WDPC) and the Educational Achievement Policy Committee (EAPC) held a joint meeting in London on Friday 23 September.

The committee welcomed representatives from the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) to discuss the national initial teacher training policy and the sufficiency of teaching staff in light of the growing number of school-age children, increasing churn in the profession and a fall in trainees in recent years. There is a growing shortage of staff specialising in science, Maths and computer science; a range of NCTL campaigns and projects addressing these issues are currently in train. During a wide-ranging group discussion the growing number of entry routes into teaching was raised as was the need to more clearly articulate the benefits and rewards of working in the public sector. Many local authorities have developed workforce strategies but there are challenges beyond their control that significantly impact progress e.g. the cost of housing in local and regional areas, particularly greater London and the south east. The group also reflected on growing pressures in recruiting and retaining middle and senior school leaders, in part due to increased accountability, and difficulties in recruiting to the assistant director of education role for local authorities.

The Restorative Justice Council (RJC) attended the meeting to discuss the work they are doing with schools to promote the use of restorative approaches over short-term sanctions to help students to better understand the impact of their actions. Restorative practices place relationships at the heart of the educational experience, this fits with schools of all denominations and faiths (or none). The group reflected on the value of shifting thinking from behaviour management to behaviour development and were keen to hear about successes in other areas of children’s services e.g. using restorative practices in residential homes. The RJC are involved in a new study with 40 secondary schools to pilot action groups with students and staff to promote restorative approaches. This is a three year study and the results will be published in early 2018.

The committee also considered the government’s new green paper, ‘Schools that work for everyone.’ While much of the media focus to date has been on the expansion of grammar schools, the group expressed concern that some of the other, and arguably more controversial, proposals might receive less scrutiny e.g. allowing existing schools to adopt selective practices and the suggestion that independent schools should sponsor or even open their own state schools. Other points of interest raised during the discussion included the acceptance of an increasingly narrow definition of success and the benefits of a truly comprehensive education. This conversation will feed into the development of the Association’s formal consultation response.

Members of the EA and WD Policy Committees took part in several workshops at the recent National Children and Adult Services Conference in Manchester.

The Educational Achievement Policy Committee is scheduled to meet in Manchester at the end of January 2017 in conjunction with the Resources & Sustainability Policy Committee. The Workforce Development Policy Committee is due to meet in London in early February 2017.


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PR President’s Speech NCASC 2016

ADCS President’s opening address National Children and Adult Services Conference

On Wednesday 2 November 2016, Dave Hill, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) gave his opening address at the National Children and Adult Services (NCAS) conference in Manchester.

On increasing demand for children’s social care

“As we strive to create and maintain the conditions in which good social work can thrive, where social workers and others can form life-changing relationships, we do so against a backdrop of increasing demand. Later this month, ADCS will publish phase 5 of our Safeguarding Pressures research; a longitudinal study of the scale and nature of children’s social care and safeguarding activity. Here are some of the headlines for the year to 31 March 2016 to give us some context. Figures are rounded up:

  • 2.2 million initial contacts were made to children’s social care of which 610,000 became referrals
  • 580,000 social care assessments were undertaken and 225,000 early help assessments were completed
  • There were 280,000 children in need excluding children on child protection plans and children in care
  • There were 71,000 children in local authority care and 35,000 care leavers
  • 50,000 children were subject of child protection plans – almost half of whom, some 23,000, were subject of a child protection plan for the reason of neglect
  • There were 4,500 UASCs, although far more were supported at some point during the year 2015/16.

“Of course, this number now pales into insignificance as an ADCS themed report on unaccompanied asylum seeking and refugee children, to be published tomorrow, will illustrate.”

On the migrant crisis in Calais

“All of us will have been moved by the plights of those vulnerable migrants and particularly the hundreds of unaccompanied children and young people who had somehow made it to France. I pay a heartfelt tribute to colleagues and politicians in local areas hosting the six temporary reception centres, and those many councils that stepped up to provide almost 100 emergency weekend placements, the social workers, foster carers and residential staff are heroes. Thank you, you are a credit to public service and utterly child-focussed in the face of an unprecedented and at times chaotic situation.”

On supporting children in care and care leavers

“A significant proportion of those 71,000 children in care, and those we have taken into care since 31 March, become, eventually, our care leavers. And it is here that another set of our challenges, and costs lie. We can and must do better for care leavers. But how can we hope to do so whilst we take more and more children into care?

“Throughout my presidency I have talked about how local government should lead the debate about taking fewer children into care and doing even better for those children that we do take into care. To get to that turning point safely we’ve got to change the shape of children’s social care not through the lens of the government’s touching faith in structural reform, but by investing in prevention and early help. For a while of course, maybe 2-3 years, you have to double invest – money into early help and money into statutory child protection work, but eventually the balance can begin to shift. Less child protection work, fewer children in care resulting in more manageable caseloads for social workers meaning they are better able to achieve continuity in case-holding, form meaningful sustainable relationships with children and families and thereby make more meaningful, lasting interventions in the lives of children, young people and their families. Many of those interventions can then be predicated upon breaking the cycle of adult disadvantage, of improving the ability of adults to care effectively for their children, thus preventing some from coming into care.”

On the relationship between central and local government

“I think elements of central government do understand the crucial and unique role of local government as the shaper of places, places where children and young people are at the heart of everything we do. There is not only a moral argument for child-centric policy development, but frankly an economic imperative too, to ensure all public services improve opportunities and outcomes for our children, who will, afterall be the tax-payers of the future, the social workers of the future, the government Ministers of the future.

“Effective public services can only be delivered in partnership. Partnerships with schools, with health, with police, with communities and with other councils. Local councils lead these partnerships on behalf of the citizens their elected members represent. Central government cannot hope to operate effectively and efficaciously without strong, confident local government. Our staff have collaboration in their DNA, lets maximise their skills and experience in moving forward. We owe it to those we serve.”

The full speech can be found on the ADCS website – www.adcs.org.uk

ENDS


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President’s Address at NCASC 2016

Dave Hill’s Presidential speech to the National Children and Adult Serviecs Conference 2016

Download speech here

View Changing the Narrative video


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Comment on Demos’ report on commissioning in children’s...

Dave Hill, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said:

“Throughout the country local authorities are working tirelessly to find innovative and effective solutions to improve services and best meet the needs of children, young people and families. We’ve seen some local authorities create social enterprise companies to deliver their children’s services, and others commission out their youth or permanency services. But there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to improving services and what might be right for one local area will not necessarily work for another. It’s crucial that local areas are free to put in place the best arrangements to suit local needs.”

ENDS


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HCAN and RS Policy Committee Updates September 2016

The Health, Care & Additional Needs Policy Committee and the Resources & Sustainability Policy Committee held a joint meeting on 17th June. Representatives from DfE attended the committee to discuss the SEND reforms, particularly focusing on children and young people over the age of 19. Members of the committee were keen to explore the challenges they face in terms of implementing the reforms and called for more join up at the national level between Department for Education, Department of Health and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to further support collaboration at a local level.

The committees were also joined by representatives from the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) to discuss children and young people with complex needs. Following the Winterbourne View scandal, ADCS has been working with CDC, NHS England, DfE, and DoH to understand better the cohort of children and young people who are in assessment and treatment units (ATUs) or 52 week residential school placements who have autism and/ or a learning disability. NHS England is continuing work to ensure all cases have appropriate tri-partite reviews across health, education and social care.

Representatives from Link Maker also joined the committee to provide an update on the expansion of the resource. Link Maker was initially established to create an online platform providing details of a national pool of adoptive parents which could then be used by LAs during the matching process. From August 2016, Link Maker will provide information on the availability of all care settings subscribed to the service.

Both committees continued to be active over the summer period. The HCAN committee led two workshops at the ADCS annual conference focusing on regional adoption agencies and SEND. Since the last meeting of HACN, Martin Narey’s review of residential care and the government’s care leaver strategy have both been published, followed by an announcement of DfE’s intention to carry out a fostering stocktake. The committee will want to influence this agenda and DfE officials have been invited to the next committee meeting on 22nd September to outline their current thinking.

The R&S committee developed the opening plenary session of the ADCS annual conference, with the chair of the committee and committee member Richard Selwyn exploring ideas around next practice in children’s services. The committee also held a well-attended workshop focusing on social impact bonds. The committee next meets on 14th October and will be focusing on innovative approaches to commissioning, IFAs, costs of accommodating UASC and the financial case for early help and prevention.


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FCYP and WD Policy Committee Updates September 2016

The Workforce Development Policy Committee (WDPC) and the Families, Communities and Young People Policy Committee (FCYP) held a joint meeting on 10th June. The committee welcomed representatives from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to discuss the cross-government Life Chances strategy, and in particular how parents and parental relationships can be better supported and the potential to develop local family offers. The committee felt strongly that the government’s welfare reforms are having a devastating impact on some families and leading to increased pressures on parents. The sanctioning regime in place further compounds this and places an extra burden on local authorities via the section 17 duty. Although DWP is keen to move away from a focus on income as a measure of poverty, the committee was clear that for families, the worry associated with a lack of financial means can be traumatising for people and lead to a wider range of issues which require intervention. The committee explained that work is already taking place locally on this agenda and anything that is developed at a national level must seek synergy with local programmes. The group felt strongly that the language of intervention/ programmes can be stigmatising so this needs to be universal and accessible to all to reduce the risk of stigma.

The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) also attended the committee to provide an update on their review of early years programmes which support parent child interaction. The review has tested 100 programmes across three outcome categories: attachment, behaviour and cognitive development. Each programme has been assessed against the strength of evidence of impact and allocated a cost rating. The review has now been published along with a commissioning guide.

Outside of the meeting schedule both committees continue to be active. The WDPC recently responded to the consultation on the knowledge and skills statement for achieving permanence. Both committees ran workshops at the ADCS annual conference and social work reform featured as a plenary session. FCYP is also leading on the Association’s response to the consultation on mandatory reporting.

The next meeting of the WDPC is a joint meeting with the Educational Achievement Policy Committee on 23rd September. The next meeting of FCYP is on 22nd September.


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Talking Heads - Richard Selwyn on Next Practice in...

Richard Selwyn talks about next practice in children’s services​


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Providing leadership and ambition for the care system

Alison Michalska, Vice President of ADCS, said:

“Our members are clear that independently owned children’s homes and fostering agencies play a vital role in the provision of suitable placements for children and young people who can no longer live with their families. However, when local authority budgets are being squeezed year after year it is difficult to understand how and why tens of millions of pounds of public money is not directly benefitting vulnerable children but the shareholders of a small number of private providers and agencies. It is important to note that not all agencies and organisations make profit, some are charities or operate on a not-for-profit basis. This issue, and others, will be picked up in the government’s recently announced stocktake of foster care and we look forward to engaging with central government and providers in this process. The results of this exercise will hopefully serve as a catalyst for future reforms.”

Ends


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Annual Conference 2016 Presentations

Presentations and speeches from the 2016 ADCS Annual Conference

More updates will be made to this page once permission has been granted to share the documents.


Speeches:

Dave Hill - Presidential Speech

Edward Timpson MP - requested

Isabelle Trowler - Chief Social Worker for Children and Families - Speech not available


Film:

Changing the Narrative About the Care System: Views from Children and Young People


Plenary Presentations:

Ian Thomas and Richard Selwyn - Next Practice in Children’s Services

Almudena Lara - DfE - Assessment and Accreditation

Lisa Pascoe - The Future of Children’s Social Care Inspection


Workshop Presentations:

Thursday

Regional Adoption Agencies (Charlotte Ramsden, Andrew Christie, ALB; Jane Parrfement, Derbyshire; Bryan Glover, East Mids RAA; Joanne Hewson, NE Lincs; Nic Haughton, YH RA; Mark Owers) to follow

Relationships, Risk and Restorative Approaches: Doing Things Differently for Young People (Jenny Coles, Dez Holmes, RiP; Andy Lloyd, Leeds; Lindsay Dalton, PACE)

Supporting UASC (Paul Greenhalgh, Chris Spencer; Catherine Houlcroft, NRPF; Bekah Little, DfE; Ian Lewis, Croydon) to follow

Educational Achievement of Children in Care (Debbie Barnes, David Berridge, University of Bristol; John Freeman, NCER; Alan Clifton, VSH, N Yorks; Kevin Williams and Lisa Belletty, Fostering Network) to follow

Conditions for Success (Stuart Gallimore; Ben Bryant, ISOS; Anne MacIver, W Sussex; Brian Lawson; Bernie Brown, Liverpool; Steve Crocker, Hants) to follow


Friday

SEND - Children and Young People with Complex Needs (Barbara Peacock; Amanda Harvey, CDC; Julia Lumb, Calderdale; Jess Haslam, York) to follow

Social Impact Bonds (Ian Thomas, Barbara Herts and Helen Lincoln, Essex; Nasima Patel and Anthony Walters, Tower Hamlets; Simon Brown, Bucks; Tamsyn Roberts, Cabinet Office) to follow

Promoting Stability and Quality in the Social Work Workforce (Rachael Wardell; Graham Archer, DfE; Chris McLoughlin, Stockport; Paul Marshall, Manchester; Samantha Baron, MMU; Melanie John-Ross (Barnsley); Karen Jones, Kirklees) to follow

Families at the Heart of Life Chances (Linda Uren, Jonny Mallinson) to follow

Missing from Mainstream Education (Debbie Barnes, Gail Tolley, Brent, Paul Brennan) to follow


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Local Government Ombudsman review of local government complaints...

Dave Hill, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said:

“An increase of 13% in the numbers of enquiries or complaints about the provision of services to children and their families sounds high but it is important to see these figures in context - our work with schools brings us into contact with millions of children each and every year. The services we provide are complex and local authorities are going through a lot of change driven by changes in legislation and austerity. Some of the most affected areas of our work are SEND, children’s social care and school transport. We work hard to minimise the impact of this change on the communities we serve and when things go wrong we seek to learn lessons.”

ENDS


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Harold Bodmer

Commenting on the sudden death of Harold Bodmer, President of ADASS, Dave Hill, President of ADCS, said:

“I am saddened to hear about the sudden and unexpected death of Harold Bodmer, the Executive Director of Adult Services in Norfolk and the President of our sister organisation, ADASS. I know how honoured he was to be nominated by his peers to hold that role. Harold has made an important contribution to public services throughout his career, first as a social worker and later as a manager and director. His upbringing and early working life in Africa informed his approach to everything and I heard him speak passionately about the inequality and social injustices he witnessed first-hand. My thoughts, and those of the Association’s membership, are with his family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.”

ENDS


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Video Changing the Narrative About the Care System

Changing the narrative

Changing the Narrative about the Care System: Views from Children and Young People


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Press Release ADCS Annual Conference 2016 Presidential Address

President’s address at the ADCS Annual Conference

On Thursday 7th July 2016, Dave Hill, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) gave his address at the ADCS Annual Conference in Manchester.

On the role of the Director of Children’s Services

“As the DCS role is reviewed we must be clear about the advantages of having one voice for children – not because we seek to be defensive or protectionist about our role, but because it works.”

On early help and creating the conditions for successful social work to thrive

“Local government should lead the debate about taking fewer children into care and doing even better for those children that we do take into care. But to get to that turning point safely we’ve got to change the shape of children’s social care not through the lens of the government’s touching faith in structural reform, but by investing in prevention and early help. For a while of course, you have to double invest – money into early help and money into statutory child protection work, but eventually the balance can begin to shift. Less child protection work, fewer children in care resulting in more manageable caseloads for social workers meaning they are better able to achieve continuity in case-holding, forming meaningful sustainable relationships with children and families and thereby making more meaningful, lasting interventions in the lives of children, young people and their families.”

On adoption and permanence

“We value adoption as a means to finding a loving, forever family but love is also present in foster placements and in residential care too. Over the last six years, there has been a focus on adoption as the gold standard of permanence. But ADCS members around the country see no hierarchy in different forms of permanence. The overwhelming majority of the children in our care currently, are in foster placements – it’s time for a focus on fostering.”

On Sir Martin Narey’s review of residential care

“We are pleased to see that Sir Martin Narey’s report into his independent review of children’s residential care has been published this week. We note his recommendation that a fundamental review of fostering is overdue and that this should be a priority for the DfE.”

On the profit made by some Independent Fostering Agencies

“Minister, I urge you to bring your considerable passion and knowledge about fostering to bear on some pretty sharp practices in the private for-profit fostering world. Making millions of pounds of private profit on the back of vulnerable children and young people is quite frankly immoral.”

On the relationships between central and local government and schools

“When well marshalled, collaboration and partnership are the key ingredients of success in our education system and schools. So, please can we stop the pernicious narrative that goes: local authority involvement with schools is de facto a bad thing? Let’s focus instead on creating the conditions for establishing a meaningful relationship between central and local government working together with schools to improve outcomes for children and young people.”

On anchoring accountability for children’s outcomes

“Effective public services can only be delivered in partnership. The local authority leads these partnerships and is responsible for ensuring that the arrangements made by itself and other local providers are designed to benefit children, young people and families and are not predicated on a profit motive or the needs of a single organisation, agency or provider alone. It makes sense therefore, to anchor accountability for children’s outcomes firmly at a local level.”

On safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in care

“The role of the corporate parent is to act as the best possible parent for each child they look after, safeguarding and promoting their welfare and securing the best possible outcomes in particular a duty to promote the educational achievement of children in care. As a sharp-elbowed corporate parent, I don’t want to wait 9 months for my request to the Education Funding Agency to direct a recalcitrant academy to admit one of my kids so let’s devolve the Education Funding Agency’s power to direct an academy to admit a pupil to directors of children’s services in respect of children in care. This would represent a much more efficient and effective system.”

On ensuring school effectiveness

“Acting alone, central government cannot adequately ensure, nor assure, school effectiveness. Therefore, I want to keep my statutory duty to promote high standards in primary, secondary and special education because it gives a way into all schools for the local authority which is the only agency in a geographical area that has a whole-locality focus. With the best will in the world, a Multi Academy Trust isn’t going to spend any time or energy thinking about the life chances and attainment of pupils that attend other schools or colleges. But I am, we are, because we care about the wellbeing of every child and young person on our patches – that’s what councils do.”

On meaningful relationships for children in care

“Every one of us in this room knows only too well how important positive and meaningful relationships are to children, particularly children and young people in care. I wonder though if sometimes the trajectory of years of policy development focussed upon protecting and safeguarding children from physical and sexual abuse has had an unintended consequence – that many adults, be they members of the general public, or the dedicated professionals who work in a wide range of roles with children and young people, are hesitant, reluctant or downright scared of having physical contact with a child. We know that new-born babies in part at least form their attachment with their principal care-givers through physical contact. Children and teenagers need that too.”

END

The full speech is available on the ADCS website at www.adcs.org.uk

Notes to Editors

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) Ltd is the professional leadership association for Directors of Children’s Services and their senior management teams in England.

The Staff College, today, publish Changing the narrative: a new conversation between the citizen and the State. To access the full report please click here.


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Presidential Speech 2016

Dave Hill’s Presidential Speech at the 2016 ADCS Annual Conference, held at the Midland Hotel, Manchester.

View speech


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Staff College Changing the Narrative Report

The Staff College

Report

CHANGING THE NARRATIVE: A NEW CONVERSATION BETWEEN THE CITIZEN AND THE STATE.

The relationship between state and citizen is changing more rapidly now than for a generation. Expectations and obligations long familiar to the UK’s citizens, policy makers and service providers are being reassessed; and the UK is far from being alone. The pressures that are redefining the relationship – fiscal, technological, demographic, cultural and ideological – are being felt in other advanced economies, whether they have traditionally followed social democratic, Christian democratic or liberal welfare models.

Find out more


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NCMG Good Practice Guidance

The National Complaints Managers’ Group

Good Practice guidance for handling complaints concerning adults and children social care services (England) - May 2016

The National Complaints Managers’ Group (NCMG) is a forum representing Adults, Children & Families Social Care Complaints Managers from local authorities in England.

This document has been developed by complaints managers representing local authorities across England.

View the guidance


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Children and Social Work Bill Announced in the Queen’s Speech

Responding to measures announced in the Queen’s speech, Dave Hill, President of ADCS, said:

“The government’s ongoing commitment to finding the most vulnerable children in care a stable and loving home is welcome. It is, however, important to recognise that adoption is not the only placement option and isn’t right for every single child or sibling group. Their best interests must always remain at the heart of our decision-making.

“The news that the government is exploring broadening the role of the virtual school head and designated teachers is a positive development as is the pledge of additional help and support for care leavers in the future, including the formalisation of corporate parenting expectations. The idea that the care system is a bad place to end up is in danger of becoming the accepted truth. This lazy generalisation does a disservice to the children and young people in care, the staff that work so hard to keep children and young people safe, and the foster carers who look after them. Changing this misconception is a priority for the Association and we stand ready to assist in the creation of a new narrative.

“Efforts to raise the profile and standing of the social work profession are similarly welcome. The whole-profession remit of the proposed new regulatory body for social work is welcome; ADCS urges the government to learn the lessons from establishing the GSCC in 2006 to ensure that the morale and productivity of the social work profession is not adversely impacted upon by these changes. A complex social work reform agenda is already underway and steps must be taken to avoid destabilising or even demoralising this fragile workforce. Social workers are rarely recognised for the positive work that they do and we are absolutely committed to promoting one of the most important professions in the country by encouraging better public understanding of the role.”

ENDS


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Children and Young People’s Services in the Queen’s Speech

Responding to early reporting on the Queen’s speech, Dave Hill, President of ADCS, said:

“ADCS welcomes the government’s ongoing commitment to finding vulnerable children in care a stable and loving placement. Any new legislation is likely to build on the adoption policy paper the DfE published in March but we await further detail in the Queen’s speech. We welcome ongoing efforts to raise the profile and standing of the social work profession and the Prime Minister’s pledge to provide care leavers with more help and support in the future.”

ENDS


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