West Midlands Regional Update September 2019
Regional Improvement and Innovation Alliance
We are moving into the third year of our collaboration programme, which includes the RIIA and aims to continue to improve the support and challenge that we can offer each other to achieve higher levels of performance and better outcomes for children, young people and families. It is pleasing that as a region we now have more ‘good’ than ‘inadequate’ authorities but there is much to do if we are to meet the ambitions we set ourselves in 2016 to achieve by 2021.
Mutual Ventures undertook an options appraisal for the future structure of West Midlands Children’s Services (WMCS) which has led to the presentation of an outline business case for LA DCSs and trust chief executives to consider at their meeting on the 6 September. All agree that there is the need for a more formal arrangement and the options for this are: a joint venture contractual model; a joint venture corporate model; or remaining as is with a legally binding agreement to ensure shared ownership/liability.
FutureSocial remains a key focus for the DCS network developing alternative delivery methods under the three key headings:
• Workforce: Recruitment, retention, sustainability and management of agency provision
• Quality and Performance: Developing best practice across all aspects of social care
• Leadership and Management.
The innovation funding continues until March 2020, however, there will also be a continuation of some of the core aspects beyond this time built into the future operation of WMCS. Each council and trust is working through their funded continuing professional development action plans.
The NAAS pilot plans are well underway. There is a dilemma regarding the assessment centres that are managed centrally in that we have been given a target for 25% of the children’s social care workforce to undertake the assessment but have been allocated too few assessment centre places to meet this. Having motivated colleagues to undertake the assessment voluntarily we are in danger of letting them down if they have to wait a long time for their assessment. The second issue is one of declaration. Those participating are volunteers and do not have to disclose to their council or trust if they have passed the assessment. If this scheme is to be rolled out both the capacity and declaration issues will need to have been resolved.
SEND Regional Network
WMCS has now taken over the running of the network and the DCS for Birmingham has agreed to lead on this for the DCS network. There is a growing concern over the high needs budgets and a number of councils and trusts have received ‘written statements of action’ status from Ofsted.
West Midlands Safe Centre
We have been successful with our bid for the creation of a Safe Centre to be built in the West Midlands but are waiting to find out how much funding is available from the DfE secure estates team for both the design and build stages. A meeting scheduled for 18 September, chaired by Sir Alan Wood, will provide greater detail.
Education and Skills Network
The DCS network is meeting with the recently appointed Regional Schools Commissioner in October to work through mutual agendas including issues around home education, pupils missing from schools, and school exclusions. Education and skills are a key priority for the West Midlands as we are a region with poor social mobility.
Regional Commissioning Hub
The hub is being established and staff recruited with the intention that it will be self-sufficient within three years. This will be achieved through better management of the marketplace and the collaborative buying power of the region’s councils and trusts.
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