South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures
South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures

1.1.6 Quality Assurance in Children’s Social Care

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This Support Tool identifies processes used which illustrate how we ensure quality service provision and how risk is addressed in safeguarding children and our Children in Care services.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in April 2014. When Initial and Core Assessments were replaced with one title: Social Work Assessments; as set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children. Legal Meetings, previously referred to as Gateway meetings are now referred to as Legal Planning and Proof of Evidence Meetings.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Our Approach
  3. Our Values
  4. Our Processes


1. Introduction

1.1 The Children's Social Care is a partner within the Plymouth Children and Young People's Trust. It therefore comes under scrutiny from our partners such as the Plymouth Safeguarding Children's Board and Voluntary and Community Sector representatives. In addition the Children's Social Care also comes under scrutiny from existing structures and democratic processes such as the Children and Young People's Overview and Scrutiny Panel.
1.2 To ensure that Children's Social Care is of a high quality it is important that the service is transparent.
1.3 This Support Tool lists the processes used throughout the provision of Children's Social Care which contributes towards ensuring quality service provision and to address identifiable risk.


2. Our Approach

2.1 Emphasis on Quality of Outcomes - Children's Social Care aims to provide the best possible services and opportunities to children who meet thresholds for Children's Social Care involvement. Quality assurance is a focus on the required outcomes of those processes and the impact they are having on people's lives.
2.2 Real Commitment to Multi Agency Working - Children's Social Care operate in a complex world that involves many partner agencies, preventative activities and human inter-actions with children, young people and families who are often vulnerable. This quality assurance approach needs to be very people focused.
2.3 A Confident Workforce - Children's Social Care service is committed to the five recognised outcomes. Quality assurance in this context is about ensuring our employees exercise sound professional judgements, based on good information and understanding, operating to the highest standards and expectations. Therefore, Children's Social Care is committed to ensure that policies, procedures and processes work effectively to protect children at risk and maximise the ability to provide support and opportunities to those children who meet the thresholds for social care involvement.
2.4 Strong Leadership - The Children's Social Care Service aims to ensure that quality decisions are taken and any problems resolved at the earliest opportunity or point of contact, therefore leadership, challenge and learning must be found throughout this quality assurance approach to service provision.
2.5 Child focused - The engagement of children and young people is crucial to effectiveness of the services being provided; there is a need to achieve the best possible chronological understanding of where they are in their development and exposure to risk. The involvement of children and young people in the improvement of our service is integral to other processes such as recruitment and selection and the right to make a complaint.
2.6 Voice of the child - Ensuring that children and young people are given the opportunity to contribute to all assessments and planning for their care, in order to ensure that their experiences and views are taken into account when making decisions.
2.7 Diversity - The Children's Social Care recognises that children and families in Plymouth come from diverse backgrounds, therefore the service will ensure that needs arising from race, ethnicity, religion, culture, sexual orientation and disability are identified and that service delivery reflects these needs and differences.
2.8 Continuous Service Improvement - This quality assurance approach ensures that there is a commitment to maintain a focus on continuous service improvement through evidencing that feedback is regularly sought and listened to.


3. Our Values

3.1

These values, developed by the Children's Workforce Development Council, are adopted by Plymouth City Council's Children's Social Care.

  • The needs, rights and views of the child are at the centre of all practice and provision;
  • Individuality, difference, and diversity are valued and celebrated;
  • Equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice are actively promoted;
  • Children's health and well-being are actively promoted;
  • Children's personal and physical safety is safeguarded whilst allowing for risk and challenge as appropriate to the capabilities of the child;
  • Self-esteem and resilience are recognised as essential to every child's development;
  • Confidentiality and agreements about confidential information are respected as appropriate to the capabilities of the child;
  • Professional knowledge, skills and values are shared appropriately in order to enrich the experience of children more widely;
  • Best practice requires a continuous search for improvement and self awareness of how workers are perceived by others.


4. Our Processes

4.1 The tables below identify particular processes used throughout the provision of Children's Social Care which are strategically applied to ensure accountability and governance. Generally applied throughout the specific departments of the Children's Social Care Service.
4.2 The tables also identify which roles have lead responsibility in order to strengthen accountability. Furthermore the tables exemplify the required outcomes to illustrate how each process contributes to quality assuring the Children's Social Care provision. For further details about each of these please see individual policy documents.


i. Strategic Overview

Process Lead Responsibility Required Outcome
Management Reviews Chair of Plymouth Safeguarding Children's Board

Issues in the management and practice in cases are identified and inform agency learning and staff professional development;

Required amendments to policy and procedures are made.
Serious Case Reviews Chair of Plymouth Safeguarding Children's Board

Issues in the management and practice in cases are identified and inform agency learning and staff professional development;

Required amendments to policy and procedures are made.

The reviews focus on the experience of the child.
Corporate Parenting Group Head of Service Children in Care There are high aspirations for children in care.
Local Safeguarding Children's Board Overview Chair of Plymouth Safeguarding Children's Board

Children in Plymouth are kept safe;

Plymouth City Council employees contribute to multi agency work to keep children and young people safe.
Children and Young People's Trust Board Chair of Children and Young People's Trust Children in Plymouth live grow, achieve and exceed in their hopes for the future.
Children and Young People's Shadow Trust Chair of Children and Young People's Shadow Trust Children in Plymouth are given the opportunity to challenge and support the work of the Children and Young People's Trust.
Plymouth City Council Corporate Management Team Chief Executive

CIP7 - Keeping Children Safe;

CIP8 - Improving Skills and Educational Achievement.
Overview and Scrutiny Panel Chair of Overview Scrutiny Panel Independent scrutiny of the delivery of the Children and Young People's plan and the performance of Services for Children and Young People.


ii. Children Social Care Overview

Process Lead Responsibility Required Outcome
Sample Audit All Managers

Enhance Practice and inform service planning; Identify agency learning;

Improve quality of service delivery for children, young people and their families.
Transfer Audit Both relinquishing and receiving Team Managers

There is compliance with processes and procedures;

Case files have been quality assured (using Case Audit Tool);

All outstanding actions are undertaken.
Supervision All Team Managers

Ensure the child's plan is progressing and that outcomes for the child are improving.

Ensure all notes, discussions and decisions are recorded on case records.
Resource Panel Assistant Director - Children's Social Care

Appropriate resources are available to meet needs of the child;

The appropriateness for the child to be placed in care is discussed.
Thematic Audits (Qualitative and Quantitative) Undertaken by Service Manager and Head of Service

Enhance practice and inform service planning;

Identify agency learning to inform professional development;

To obtain quality outcomes for children and young people;

Improve quality of service delivery for children, young people and their families.
Personal Educational Plans Personal Educational Plan Officer Each child or Young Person has an up to date and rigorous education plan to ensure they reach their potential. The child/ young person will have input into their plan
Management Reports Children's Social Care Management Team

Ensure that the department is performing well;

Identify strengths and challenges for service development and delivery;

Enhance practice to ensure quality outcomes for young people.
Customer Feedback Service Manager In partnership with the University of Plymouth, research is being undertaken with service users to gain their views on the quality of their experience.


iii. Safe and Competent Workforce

Process Lead Responsibility Required Outcome
Recruitment Assistant Director Recruitment of a competent and safe workforce.
Induction All Managers All employees who commit to Children's Social Care have a complete understanding of the organisational structures, their individual responsibilities, the accountability framework and feel supported and confident.
Performance Appraisal All Managers

There is clarity about performance expectations, fairness and consistency, identification of development needs which provide career pathways and the skills to progress;

There is a clear process for: managing performance and continuous improvement, prioritisation of development needs to identify better provision of training courses and/or development opportunities;

There is an appropriately skilled and competent workforce with the skills to work necessary to work directly with children and young people to ensure quality outcomes.
Staff Moves Protocol All Managers To support movement of staff across service areas to enhance and develop a greater understanding of the journey of the child and the contribution of service areas to the overall outcomes for children and young people.
Progression Panel All Managers To support the professional development and retention of staff by enabling appropriate progression to Advanced Practitioner.
Disciplinary/ grievance Assistant Director

Ensure that the workforce is safe, competent and performing;

There is delivery of good outcomes for children and young people;

Employees are treated fairly and the employment is safe for the employer, employee and clients.
Health Check Annual Report Service Manager for Professional Development Identify current strengths and plan to tackle areas of improvement.
Single Agency Training Programme Assistant Director

Employees are equipped with the required skills/understanding to deliver as safe service. The development needs of staff are informed by Appraisal, supervision and file audit.

All training is evaluated within a feedback loop
Learning and Development Plans All Managers These will be reviewed annually through appraisal and other appropriate times e.g. probationary period and end of 'Newly Qualified Social Worker' year.
Staff Communications Events Assistant Director Employees are informed of local and national developments and have the opportunity to feed up their views regarding service delivery.
Staff Exit Interviews Service Manager for Professional Development All professional staff leaving the department have the opportunity to meet with the Service Manager for Professional Development to share their views regarding the quality of their experience and identify areas for change and improvement.


iv. Voice of the Child - is integral to what we do. It is a thread that runs through all our practice

Process Lead Responsibility Required Outcome
Social Work Assessment and Care Planning (to include S47 enquiries Team Manager The child will be seen and spoken to ensure their wishes and feelings are taken into account. The child must be seen during s 47 enquiries and spoken to (given their age and understanding) which will contribute to an assessment of risk and strengths
Child Protection meetings Independent Chair Children will be able to attend their conferences and will have the support of an independent advocate if they so wish.
Children in Care Team Manager and Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO)

The child will have the opportunity to speak to their IRO prior to and during the review process. They will be offered an independent advocate if they so wish.

Completion of 'Have Your Say' booklets for reviews.

Contribute to the Foster reviews via feedback forms.
Child Protection visits Social Worker The social worker will ensure that the child is seen and spoken to during child protection visits, to understand the child's view of their world.
Statutory visits to children in care, child in need visits Social Worker The social worker will ensure that the child is seen and spoken to visits, to understand the child's view of their world. The child may wish to be seen outside their home environment and this will be facilitated.
Children in care where the plan is for adoption Team manager

Plymouth City Council routinely seeks children's views about being adopted, given their age and understanding, and records this information on the Child Permanence Report

Children contribute to Family Finder DVDs

The production of 'Katie Kitten' books was developed after children had reviewed them.


v. The Voice of the Child in Service Development

Process Lead Responsibility Required Outcome
Adoption Service Service manager

Children contribute to Family Finder DVDs

The production of 'Katie Kitten' books was developed after children had reviewed them.
Staff recruitment Service Manager for Professional Development Young people are trained and form a Young People's Panel for the recruitment and selection of staff at all levels
Listen and Care Council Head of Service Young people form part of the Listen and Care council to ensure that their views are heard and contribute to service developments
Fostering Service Manager 'Skills to Foster' young people's panel interview potential Foster Carers as part of the assessment process. Young people attend the Information Evening for those interested in fostering to share their experience of being in care.
Children in Care Head of Service Children and young people contributed to 'The Pledge'.


vi. Advice and Assessment / Children in the Community

The cultural background, diversity and context of the child and family are taken into account which will inform all future work with family and desired outcomes.

Process Lead Responsibility Required Outcome
Contact Record Threshold Manager Initial decisions have occurred about the child meeting the thresholds for Children Social Care involvement and a pathway has been identified.
Referral Threshold Manager Thresholds for referrals are consistent and safe and in line with Threshold Document agreed by the Children and Young People's Trust. The child's ethnicity, faith and language must be recorded in order that any assessments take diversity issues into account
Social Work Assessment Authorised by Team Manager The child has been assessed and any risks have been identified to inform the pathway forward.
Strategy Meetings / Strategy Discussions and Section 47 enquiries. Chaired and authorised by Team Manager Information is shared between agencies, which informs the decision as to whether the child is at risk and a Section 47 enquiry is to be conducted. The plan will include relevant agencies.
Social Work Assessment (Section 17) Authorised by Team Manager The child has been assessed, risk and protective factors identified and the appropriate child's plan has been initiated.
Initial Child Protection Conference (ICPC) Independent Chair

Ensure risk and protective factors are identified;

Ensure the threshold has been met for Children's Social Care involvement;

The quality of assessments has been checked.
Child Protection Review Independent Chair

Monitors multi agency input;

Ensure the child's plan is progressing;

Ensure all notes, discussions and decisions are recorded on child's case record.
Core Groups Team Managers

Ensure core groups are held as per the child's plan and multi agency input is maintained;

The child's plan is progressing.
Child Protection Visits Team Managers

Ensure that child has been visited by Social Worker in accordance with the child plan;

The child's plan is progressing.
Independent Chair feedback forms Team Managers

Ensure that plan has been put into action in a timely manner;

The child is being kept safe;
Legal Planning and Proof of Evidence Meetings Head of Service

Ensure the threshold has been met and this is the appropriate plan for the child;

The quality of assessments is checked to ensure they are robust.


vii. Children in Care

Process Lead Responsibility Required Outcome
Contact arrangements Team Manager The views of children and young people are taken into account with regard to decision for contact with family members.
Reviews of Foster Carers Fostering Service Reviewing Officer

Ensure that agencies involved with the Foster Carer participate in reviews;

National Minimum Standards are met;

Children are in safe placements, and their needs are being met;

Exit interviews take place with children and young people when they have left their placement to ensure that the quality of placements is maintained.
Court Reports and Care Plans Team Manager and Service Manager Ensure assessments and plans meet the child's needs.
Service Manager Meeting Service Manager for Children in Care and Permanency and Placements Planning for children in care is progressed to meet the needs of the child.
Team Manager Meeting Adoption Team Manager and Team Manager for the child Planning for children in care is progressed to meet the needs of the child.
Fostering Panel Panel Advisor

Prospective Foster Carers have completed the assessment process and can be recommended for approval;

Outcomes of Foster Carer reviews are considered in order to ensure that the Foster Carers can meet the needs of the child;

Quality assures that the paperwork for Panel is robust.
Adoption and Permanency Panel Panel Advisor

That children and prospective carers (adopters or long term carers) are presented to panel with all the work completed and evidenced. E.g. Life Story Work;

Quality assures that the paperwork for Panel is robust.
Agency Decision Makers consideration of Fostering Panel and Adoption and Permanence panel recommendations Agency Decision Maker

Considers the recommendations made by Panels and makes final decisions on approval of those recommendations;

Ensure that adoption is in the best interest of the child;

Any permanent placement for a child meets their needs.
Personal Educational Plans Personal Educational Plan Officer Each child in care has an up to date and rigorous education plan to ensure they achieve their potential.
Placement Stability Meeting Team Manager for the child Ensure that the risk of disruption is minimised by focussing on the needs of the child and the carer's ability to meet those needs.

Disruption Meetings (Independently chaired)

Team Manager for child

Identifies agency learning from the disruption are taken into account in planning for the child; Improves quality of service delivery for children;

Enhances practice / service planning.
Joint Service Monitoring Meetings Service Managers Permanency and Placements and Children in the Community.

Monitors statutory timescales for those children for whom adoption is the plan;

Minimise drift in planning for the child's permanency.
Statutory Visits to children in care Team Manager

Ensure children are visited by their Social Worker;

Children in care are kept safe;

That the placement meets the child's needs;

Ensure the views of children in care are heard and taken into account.


viii. Youth Offending Service

Process Lead Responsibility Required Outcome
Start Asset Assessment 20% random sample by Team Manager

The child has been assessed and likelihood of re-offending, risk of harm and vulnerability has been identified to inform the intervention plan;

Risk of Significant Harm Asset assessment, Risk Management Plans and Vulnerability Management Plans if appropriate are initiated.
Referral Order Report Identified Colleague Ensure that report is ready for Panel and that recommendations are commensurate with scaled approach intervention level functions and service norms.
Pre Sentence Report (PSR) Panel Team Manager

Ensure that all requirements are meet e.g. placement alert forms completed, Asset and Risk of Serious Harm Asset Assessment is completed and dangerousness is addressed;

Ensure the report recommendations are commensurate with offences, magistrate's pre-sentence assessment, scaled approach level functions and service norms;

Ensure that report gate keeping time is arranged and report writer available for consultation prior to court date.
Pre Sentence Report (PSR) Gate Keeping Identified Gatekeeper (Team Manager for All Options Reports) Ensure report is prepared and ready for court with recommendations as agreed in Pre Sentence Report Panel
Intervention Plans 20% Random Sample by Team Manager

To ensure the risks identified in Asset Assessment are addressed in the intervention plan in a SMART way and that all appropriate referrals are made;

Ensure links are made to Risk and vulnerability management plans where required.
Risk of Serious Harm (ROSH) Asset Assessments Team Manager Ensure comprehensive assessment of Risk of Serious Harm is completed on all cases where required.
Risk Management Plans (RMP) Team Manager Ensure the risks identified in the Risk of Serious Harm Asset are addressed in the Risk Management Plan in a SMART way with links to Intervention Plan on all cases assessed as having a medium to very high Risk of Serious Harm.
Vulnerability Management Plans (VMP) Team Manager Ensure the vulnerabilities identified in the Asset are addressed in the Vulnerability Management Plan in a SMART way with links to Intervention Plan on all cases assessed as having a medium to very high vulnerability.
Risk/Vulnerability Management Planning Meeting Team Manager To ensure that Risk of Serious Harm, Risk Management Plan and Vulnerability Management Plans are completed to appropriate standards and are reviewed in a timely manner.
Case Planning Forums Team Manager To ensure that all 'Deter Young Offenders' are managed in an appropriate way with multi agency input.
Case Closure Team manager To ensure all necessary work has been completed at end of order.


ix. 16+ Service

Process Lead Responsibility Required Outcome
Social Work Assessment - Homelessness Assessments Only Authorised by Team Manager The young person has been assessed and any risks are identified to inform the pathway forward.
Social Work Assessment (Section 17) - Homelessness Assessments Only Authorised by Team Manager The young person has been assessed and risk and protective factors are identified to initiate the appropriate child's plan.
Stat Visits to children who have left care Team Manager / Service Manager Ensure that the young person's needs are assessed and services are in place to enable them to live independently.
15+ plans Team Manager and Service Manager for Children in Care

Ensure that the young persons needs are assessed in preparation for transition to adult services;

The care plan is updated to become a pathway plan which meets regulations.
Stat Visits to Former Children in Care who are now in custody Joint Ensure that the young offender's needs are assessed and appropriate services are in place in preparation for their release from custody.

End