Agenda Item No. 6

The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 7th November, 2013


Report of the Director of Social Services


Children and Young People Services - Commissioning Strategy and Action Plan 2013-2018


Purpose of the Report

1.             To update Members on progress made in implementing the Children and Young People Services Commissioning Strategy and Action Plan 2013-18.


1.             That Scrutiny Committee:

·         Notes the progress made in delivering the Children and Young People Services Commissioning Strategy Action Plan.

·         Refers this report to Cabinet, which has asked to receive regular progress updates.

·         Refers this report to Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee, for information.

·         Continues to receive six-monthly progress updates.

Reason for the Recommendations

1.             To provide Members with opportunities to exercise oversight of a key strategic document for the Council.


2.             On 11th February 2013, Scrutiny Committee considered the draft Children and Young People Services Commissioning Strategy and Action Plan, attached at Appendices 1 and 2.  Members recommended that Cabinet should endorse the objectives and principles it contained and asked for regular progress updates.

3.             Given the need to meet statutory responsibilities and to deal with the significant financial pressures faced by the Council, the Strategy contains four key objectives:

·         To support families to stay together and reduce the need for children to be looked after by ensuring a focus on early intervention and preventative action across all service provision for children, including statutory and independent providers. 

·         To manage risk confidently and provide support at the "edge of care" by making sure that need and risk are accurately assessed and receive the proper response, so that the right children are accommodated at the right time.  This includes supporting families by making private arrangements within their wider family networks.

·         To provide and commission a flexible and affordable mix of high quality placements that meet the diverse range of children’s needs.

·         To give children clearly planned journeys through care which remain focused on achieving care plans; prevent drift; enable them to be reunited with family and friends where possible; provide them with stable placements and opportunities to exit the care system positively.

4.             Increasing demand for children and young people to become looked after and the need to find appropriate placements for them were noted as putting the budget for Children and Young People Services under severe pressure. 

Relevant Issues and Options

5.             Efforts have been focused following implementation of the Strategy on the following key areas:

·         preventing children and young people becoming looked after where this is not necessary to safeguard their welfare;

·         enabling those that do come into care to be rehabilitated back to their family network where it is safe to do so; and

·         providing the best possible outcomes for those who remain accommodated.

6.             An updated Action Plan detailing progress to date is attached at Appendix 2.

7.             Successful implementation of the Strategy will require a continuing and coordinated effort that builds on the achievements above.

8.             At this stage, no additional actions have been included in the Plan but we will continue to deliver on those in place, focusing on:  

·         increasing the number of foster carers who can provide respite, with a view to supporting families to stay together;

·         further developing a range of accommodation options for young people aged 16 plus and care leavers,

·         through Permanency Panel, ensuring that plans for permanency consider the range of available options and that children do not remain looked after for longer than necessary and that those who need to remain looked after are appropriately matched in their placements;

·         undertaking a further review of all looked after children to ensure their legal status remains appropriate and, where possible and safe to do so, secure a return to the child's immediate or extended family.

·         developing the multi-disciplinary 'team around the child' approach to providing placement support, to increase stability and reduce disruption.

9.             This work will continue against the backdrop of ongoing robust arrangements in Placement Panel and Complex Needs Panel that seek to ensure all admissions to care are appropriate in the first instance and that, where possible, children are supported to remain within their families.

10.        The Children and Young People Services Divisional Management Team (DMT) will continue to be responsible for overseeing delivery of the Action Plan, monitoring the impact on children and their families and driving forward the focus on reducing admissions to care and increasing reunification to family and friends as a key priority for the Directorate. 

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

11.        The Commissioning Strategy focuses on:

·         preventing the need for statutory interventions and provision of care and accommodation;

·         managing the increasing expectations and demand for help and support;

·         managing the ongoing reductions in budgets and the need to prioritise service delivery to those most in need.

12.        Increased demand for children and young people to be looked after and for appropriate placements to be found can result in significant overspends in the budget for Children and Young People Services.  Development of this Strategy has been aligned with the Social Services Budget Programme.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

13.        There are no sustainability and climate change implications as a result of this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

14.        Safeguarding vulnerable children and young people including Children in Need, Child Protection and Looked After Children are the statutory responsibility of the Council as set out in the Children Act 1989 and other related legislation and guidance.

Crime and Disorder Implications

15.        There are no crime and disorder implications as a direct result of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

16.        There are no equal opportunities implications as a direct result of this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

17.        To support children and young people to enjoy a healthy life free from abuse, victimisation and exploitation.

18.        To ensure that all children and young people have a safe home and community which supports their physical and emotional wellbeing.

Policy Framework and Budget

19.        Endorsing the Commissioning Strategy is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

20.        The provision of appropriate support to safeguard and promote the wellbeing of children and young people is a Vale wide responsibility.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

21.        Social Care and Health.

Background Papers

The Cabinet Minute C1238 from the meeting on 4th March 2013 requires that Cabinet receives regular progress updates on the delivery of the action plan.

Contact Officer

Colette Limbrick, Operational Manager, Children and Young People Services

Officers Consulted

Corporate Management Team

Responsible Officer:

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services