To consider the report of the Director of Children and Families providing an overview of the national and regional context together with the current position in Leeds regarding Children’s Social Work Services. The report also outlines the actions taken by Children and Families to ensure that the service is able to support vulnerable children and young people to enjoy good outcomes.
The Director of Children and Families submitted a report providing an overview of the national and regional context together with the current position in Leeds regarding Children’s Social Work Services. The report also outlined the actions being taken by Children and Families to ensure that the service was able to continue to support vulnerable children and young people to enjoy good outcomes.
In presenting the report, the Executive Member highlighted that this was a report that she had undertaken to submit to Executive Board at the recent meeting of full Council. Further to this, the Executive Member provided a detailed summary of the key points within the report in terms of the challenges being faced in this area both on a national and local level, together with the range of actions being taken to address them. The Executive Member emphasised the crucial role played by all those involved in the outstanding delivery of children and families social work across the city which it was acknowledged was being undertaken in very challenging circumstances.
In considering the report, Councillor Lamb brought to the Board’s attention that he was attending Executive Board in a non-voting capacity, whilst also being Chair of the Children and Families Scrutiny Board. Given the timing of this report’s submission, he advised that he was not aware that the Board would be considering this item when agreeing to attend the Executive Board meeting, however, he emphasised that in approaching this matter he would endeavour to keep both of his respective roles in mind.
Officers responded to several questions which were put by Members. In summary, the answers provided were as follows:-
· With regard to a number of enquiries around caseload levels, assurances were provided that cases would remain open whilst it was felt that a child or family continued to require support or protection;
· Regarding the level of vacancies reported, it was noted that the vacancies existed in teams across the service;
· With regard to the approach taken towards co-working, it was confirmed that this practice continued, with the benefits of that approach being highlighted;
· Responding to an enquiry, further to the details within the report, Members received an update on the current position with regard to the grievance submitted by a group of social workers;
· The Board received an update regarding the work which was being undertaken regionally and nationally, in terms of collaborative working with other Authorities and also as part of Leeds’ role to help shape the service going forward.
From a national perspective, emphasis was placed upon the need for Local Government funding structures to be reviewed, and specifically regarding Local Authority delivered children and families social care, it was highlighted that in terms of the resourcing of such services there needed to be a parity of esteem with that delivered by the NHS.
In response to a Member’s comments regarding the lateness of the report, those comments were acknowledged, and the Executive Member highlighted that it had been deemed appropriate to submit the report to this meeting, following the undertaking at the recent full Council meeting and in order to demonstrate that the concerns raised were being taken seriously and to formally provide assurances in response to them.
Emphasis was placed upon the integral and highly valued role played by social workers in the safeguarding of children and young people across the city which was being undertaken under very challenging circumstances. Further to this, assurances were provided that the Council would continue to listen to and work through the concerns that had been raised, both in the short and longer term.
Members discussed the importance of an open approach being taken when considering such important matters, which it was noted was the key factor to submitting this report to the Board as a late item of business.
In conclusion, the Executive Member reiterated the Council’s appreciation for the integral role played by all those involved in the delivery of children and families social work across the city and the outstanding service that was being provided in very challenging circumstances. In addition, the Executive Member reiterated the importance of championing the services provided by children and families social care in Leeds and promoting the service as a positive place to work.
RESOLVED – That the assurances regarding the Children and Families Social Care Workforce in Leeds, as outlined within the submitted report, be noted.