At the meeting of Dumfries and Galloway Full Council on 24 March, Members will hear the Annual progress Report on Dumfries and Galloway Children’s Services Plan. The Plan comprises of 5 action plans which together address the 5 priority recommendations from the Care Inspectorate’s inspection between December 2013 and February 2014.

Members will hear that the Care Inspectorate acknowledged the progress Dumfries and Galloway Council has made in the follow on Inspection Report published in April 2015, when Children’s Services had begun to put in place structures and processes which would support improvement. The over-arching key message now is that we are beginning to see evidence that these structures and processes are starting to impact on practice on the ground, resulting in more effective responses for our most vulnerable children.

The recommendations and outcomes following the inspection are:

Children and young people are protected from abuse and neglect by appropriate and timely actions, including the assessment of risk. – Whilst work has been done on all recommendations, ‘Keeping Children Safe’ has been the Service’s first priority and they have made good progress in this area with faster and more effective decision-making when responding to concerns and risks about children being introduced thorough new processes.

Staff from all agencies have been further supported through new, innovative approaches to multi-agency Learning and Development, forming a key part of the approach to raising standards of professional practice and improving outcomes for children and young people.

Vulnerable children, young people and families get the help they need at an early stage. – This is being addressed through the work of the Early Years and GIRFEC Group and progress is being made in each of these stages.There are number of key parts to ensuring that families get the help they need at the earliest possible stage; this includes the early recognition of risk and need, effective sharing of information, good joint working and staff with the right skills, experience and training that are supported by clear guidance and pathways.

Priority areas of need are tackled successfully to improve the life chances of looked after children, young people and care leavers. – This is being addressed through the work of the Corporate Parenting Group. Children’s Service staff are confident that they are now better listeners to the views of Looked After Children and Young People and the Council will make sure we take those views into account so that they influence the delivery of our services.

Consistently high standards of work are achieved through the implementation of effective quality assurance framework – A great deal of focus has been placed on this and good progress has been made. Although adopting a single service approach, the outcome will provide information from a multi-agency perspective.

Stronger collaborative leadership to plan and direct the delivery of integrated children’s services results in measurable improvements in outcomes for children, young people and families. – Attention has been focussed on establishing a clear vision for Children’s Services and driving forward plans for improvement through reviewing structures, improved communication, increased accountability and the development of a more modernised approach to service delivery.

Leader of the Council, Councillor Ronnie Nicholson said: “I am delighted to hear that Children’s Services are making such good progress following the last inspection by the Care Inspectorate. Dumfries and Galloway Council’s top priorities are to provide the best start in life for our children and to protect our most vulnerable people. The recognition of strong leadership and encouraging progress in transformational change is particularly encouraging.

I recognise that there is still some way to go, but the positive changes made this far are already raising the standard of provision and I am confident that through the continued commitment of our staff we will be able to deliver the best outcomes for all of our children.”

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