Children and young people's services sector leading

Tuesday 31 October 2017

Care Inspectorate

Inverclyde’s services for children and young people are sector leading when it comes to involving young people in their care.

That is the view in a new inspection report from the Care Inspectorate where involvement of young people has received a rare ‘excellent’ rating.

The Inverclyde Alliance, the area’s community planning partnership, has received four ‘very goods’; two ‘goods’ one 'excellent' and one ‘adequate’ rating in the inspection published today (31 October 2017).

The ‘excellent’ rating is in the category ‘participation of children, young people, families and other stakeholders’ and is believed to be the first in Scotland. The inspection was the thirtieth of the thirty-two community planning partnerships in Scotland

Particular strengths praised include embedding the ‘nurturing Inverclyde’ approach across children’s services and driving continuous improvement through a culture of collaboration, high aspiration, reflective practice and learning for success.  Inspectors also highlighted work being done to mitigate the adverse consequences of child poverty and how young people and children are involved in every aspect of policy, planning and service development.

The inspection report also highlighted the benefit of Inverclyde investing significantly in prevention and early intervention, especially from pre-birth to starting at school as key strengths which are making a positive difference to the lives of children and young people.

Inspectors focused on the leadership across the partnership. They pointed out the overarching commitment across partners towards repopulation and promoting Inverclyde as a place where families would choose to bring up their children, young people would wish to remain or return to live and newcomers would be made welcome.

They noted that leaders took corporate parenting responsibilities very seriously and were determined to improve the life chances of looked after children and care leavers.  The inspection also highlighted that genuine efforts were made to reach out and include socially excluded groups in Inverclyde.

The joint inspection focused on the difference that services are making to the lives of children, young people and families in Inverclyde. The inspection focussed on work carried through the Inverclyde Alliance, the community planning partnership chaired by Inverclyde Council leader, Councillor Stephen McCabe.

He said: “Every partner around the table at the Inverclyde Alliance is committed to delivering a shared vision where our agencies work together with the goal of supporting our young people.  It is very positive that the inspection has recognised the excellent work going on in Inverclyde. In particular, they have recognised that commitment to listen to and genuinely involve our young people in the services they receive across the partnership.  Children and young people in Inverclyde get a voice and are listened to.  Our approach recognises this and values the input they have in shaping and improving service delivery.  We believe this approach is sector leading and the rare ‘excellent’ rating from the inspectors has highlighted that.

“On behalf of all of the agencies involved in the partnership, I would like to thank the staff across all of the organisations for the tireless and committed work they do every day of the year.  Many delivering public services 24/7 and doing so without fanfare or praise.  They are supporting our young people and working together to nurture them to become positive and productive adults.

“On behalf of the partners I would also like to thank the inspection team from the Care Inspectorate.  An inspection, of any kind, can be an onerous task. It can be time consuming and even viewed as a distraction from the day job.  It is clear from the feedback from my own councillor colleagues, from the management within the Alliance partners and from staff involved that the inspection is seen as one that has helped make improvements even before the publication of the report.  The challenge from the team and the manner of that challenge is one the Care Inspectorate themselves should be proud of.

“The next stages of the inspection process will be to develop an action plan based around enhancing the areas of strength and focussing on the areas of improvement recommended.  This report is clearly a very good report. None of the partners we have are prone to rest on their laurels. Given the financial constraints all public services are facing, the key challenge will be examining how to further improve the clearly high quality services provided.

The report highlighted areas for continued improvement. Inspectors pointed out that “the very strong, shared value base and culture of high aspirations and openness to learning should help partners withstand future challenges in terms of changes in personnel and the adverse impact of internal and external pressures.”  And, they stated they had a high level of confidence that the current momentum in delivering improvement and change in the lives of children, young people and their families will be sustained.

Specific areas of improvement include that the Inverclyde Alliance should further strengthen joint risk assessment and decision making in response to child protection concerns, including new concerns arising in open cases and from accumulating signs of neglect and develop joint quality assurance systems and processes to achieve high standards of practice in key processes more consistently.

The inspectors also recommended that the Alliance should demonstrate clearer links between activities and measurable improvements in outcomes through implementation of key priorities in the children’s services delivery plan.

The Inverclyde Alliance, is the local community planning partnership which consists of Inverclyde Council; Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP); NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Police Scotland; Scottish Fire and Rescue Service; Community council forum; Skills Development Scotland; Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce; Scottish Enterprise; Greenock and District Trades Council; Strathclyde Partnership for Transport; CVS Inverclyde; West College Scotland; The Scottish Government and Job Centre Plus.

The inspection report singled out several areas of ‘good practice’ taking place in Inverclyde

Closing the attainment gap – the report highlighted a partnership project with Barnardos which engaged with 97 parents and 153 children in P1–3.

Parents who accessed the service experienced improved confidence in their parenting skills and in helping their children complete homework. They felt less anxious about seeking support from teachers. Financial support helped parents maximise their income. There was a 15 per cent increase in self-referrals to the advice service, which was attributed to a relationship-based approach, partnership working and increased accessibility.

Children were reported to enjoy improved family time, were better engaged in completing homework, and enjoyed learning new things.  Attainment in numeracy and literacy had markedly improved among children taking part, attendance improved and teachers reported that young people taking part were more ready to learn.

More recently, the service has been extended to a further 22 families in P4–7 as learning from the initiative is rolled out.

Nurture Me - is an interactive electronic programme to facilitate staff in listening to and acting upon the views and wishes of children and young people. It is primarily for use with children of pre-school and primary school age. The programme includes sets of questions closely aligned to the wellbeing indicators.

This enables the views of children and young people to better inform decisions that affect them. Nurture Me is applied by a member of staff with whom the child has a trusting relationship such as a teacher, social worker or educational psychologist. It supports children and young people in identifying key people in their lives and the strength of each relationship.

Staff described how young people enjoy the tactile properties of Nurture Me and gave positive examples of how it has helped to identify concerns in relation to wellbeing.

Extending the UNICEF Right Respecting Schools approach to Residential

Children’s Houses – St Columba’s High School was the first school in Scotland to achieve the UNICEF level one and Level two ‘rights respecting schools award’ and almost all schools in the area are now involved in this approach.

As corporate parents and with the agreement of UNICEF, partners have successfully adapted and piloted the programme in a residential children’s house. Looked after and accommodated young people living in the children’s house and care staff report very positively on the difference this has made. This is the first venture of this type and unicef have described it as world class.

Becoming data informed through the development of a joint strategic needs

Assessment - Partners recognised the need to carry out a joint strategic needs assessment as a first step towards producing a children’s services plan and moving ultimately to joint commissioning.

By building capacity among staff, Inverclyde community planning partners, developed shared information and data to identify trends, gaps and areas of need. Whenever possible, the group benchmarks data trends, comparing their own performance against similar local authorities, NHSGG&C as a whole and nationally.  This has helped them set improvement targets.

Outcomes of this work include reducing risks to looked after and accommodated young people associated with going missing from residential placements.  The average number of months from a child becoming looked after to registration for a permanent foster placement or adoption has reduced significantly between 2014 and 2015.

Page last updated: 31 October 2017