Children's services set for shake-up as Kent County Council hopes for greater Ofsted success
PUBLISHED: 14:54 10 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:54 10 January 2019
Kent County Council plans to overhaul its system for children and family services in a bid to get the top ranking from Ofsted.
The council has trialled four schemes to “improve the outcomes and the life chances of the children and young people of Kent” in a bid to receive an Outstanding judgement from inspectors.
However council officers claim lack of funding for supporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) under 25 is impeding their chances.
According to a report written by the director of Children’s Integrated Services East, Sarah Hammond, the extra pressure to look after these vulnerable adults means the council will miss the mark.
The report states: “The current grant rate for Care Leavers is insufficient to deliver an Outstanding care leaver services in accordance with the Ofsted ILAC guidance.
“Councils with disproportionately large numbers of UASC Care Leavers are heavily impeded and disadvantaged in achieving an Outstanding rating from Ofsted as a result of the too low level of funding.
“In addition to aspiring to be outstanding, the Council is under constant challenge from NGOs, immigration lawyers and special interest groups to
provide to the fullest extent for this cohort.”
Despite this, for more than ten months staff have tested four pilot programmes, which look at different ways of making children’s services more efficient with the hope of getting the top accolade from Ofsted.
This included having fewer formal handovers which helped save time and reduce caseloads for social care and early help staff.
In east Kent, schools integrated with KCC staff which also led to a reduction in social care work as there were fewer referrals for assessment.
The pilot in the west led to fewer placements breaking down as 53% of those children were “supported” to stay.
And in the south of the county there was a 65% decrease in reports of missing children and young people as council staff “examined a new multi-disciplinary approach to working with adolescents”.
According to a council report, that is due to be discussed at a meeting on Friday (January 11) , other postive outcomes included more trusting working relations between social care/ early help staff and partners, especially schools and the police.
The future of this project remains uncertain as a formal consultation with staff is due to begin next week.
The report states: “However, we are confident that this new approach when it is finalised will be good for the children and young people of Kent, good for the Department and good for Kent County Council.
“We strongly believe that the improvements to which we aspire will both improve the lives of our children and young people and be recognised for achieving that by the inspectorate in due course.”
This report will be discussed by councillors on the children’s, young people and education cabinet committee meeting on Friday (January 11).