Transforming Children's Services

Our ambition is to consistently deliver services to children and families that are rated good or better by Ofsted.

Improvements within Children's Services

Children’s Services are on an improvement journey following the 2017 Ofsted inspection, which judged services to be inadequate. Over the past 18 months, the significant and ongoing impact of Covid on children and families has led to increased demand for support and services. This in turn has had a negative effect on the provider market - most significantly care provision for vulnerable and complex children which means we have had to adjust how we work to deal with the uncertainties and challenges Covid has brought. However, our ambition to offer good quality intervention leading to positive outcomes for Children and their families remains paramount.

Over the past 12 months a number of national initiatives have set out a future direction for services for children and young people.  The Early Years Healthy Development Review Report; ‘The Best Start for Life’ proposes a multi-agency, hub-based model to provide seamless support for families at the earliest opportunity. It’s vision is a shared approach to leadership, with strong local accountability and the active participation of all sectors.  Alongside this, the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care ‘The Case for Change’, makes the case for a move away from acute services towards effective early help.

Our improvement journey in children’s social care is built on a number of key elements, the most important of which is a ‘grow your own’ approach to workforce development, driven by our Social Work Academy. Our ambition is to become the ‘employer of choice’ in the region, with excellent opportunities for career development and progression. We recognise that staff are our most precious resource and investment in them will bring better outcomes for children and families.

In response to the national direction, our service structures will be transformed in order to provide a more seamless service for children and families, with more coordination with safeguarding partners. Our commissioning strategy aims to develop locally determined care provision, working with provider partners to deliver better quality outcomes for children and young people and greater certainty on costs and capacity. This work means that children and young people will be able to remain closer to home and their support networks.

Covid has been a huge challenge for the education and social care sector, however, it has also highlighted the importance of local relationships and delivery.  Locally there is a greater appetite for working with our partners, particularly with schools and a recognition of the importance of the local authority as an active participant in the local education system. The development of the Education Reference Group (ERG), which draws together the local authority, local leaders in education, the Regional Schools Commissioner and Diocesan representatives, will provide the focal point for addressing issues and improving outcomes for pupils.

The Early Years’ sector in Gloucestershire currently involves around 700 providers and around £33 million in activity.  It is very much the front end of the education system and key to providing children with the best start in life. Working through the Child Friendly Gloucestershire Coalition, we will ensure that high quality, affordable early year’s childcare is available to all children and that the targeted 2-year-old offer reaches the most vulnerable children and families. This will also engage the voluntary and faith sectors who run non-regulated parent and toddler groups to participate fully in our aim to provide the best start in life for our youngest children.

The development of a Family Hub model, centred around our Children and Family Centres, will be a key element in our future early intervention and early help offer.  This will bring together a wide range of agencies and sectors working with children and families pre-birth to 5 years and form part of our wider 0-19 years family support offer.  Our aim will be to provide support to families at the earliest opportunity to stabilise and prevent escalation to statutory services. Our approach will recognise the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and compensate for those through effective least intrusive interventions.

A review of the current SEND arrangements is underway at a national level.  While we await the outcome of that review, we will continue our development work to implement a digital approach to education, health and care plans (EHCP) and ensure we have the range of provision in place to meet the needs of children with additional needs and disability in the county. We will continue to invest in special school places and services for children with complex needs as part of our £150M investment programme in schools and to help provide for the increasing demand.  An effective and accessible alternative education offer with a strong focus on supporting pupils back into mainstream, will help meet the needs of children struggling to maintain a school place.

Page updated: 16/12/2021 Page updated by: GCC

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