Agenda item

The Independent Review of Children's Social Care (Macalister Review) - Implementation Update

To receive a report from the Director of Children and families setting out an update on implementation of the Macalister Review in Leeds, following consideration of these issues in September 2023.


The Board considered a report from the Director of Children and families providing an update on implementation of the Macalister Review in Leeds, following consideration of these issues in September 2023 which outlined the plans to implement the findings of the Review (known as this hereafter).


In attendance for this item were:


·  Cllr Jonathan Pryor, Executive Member for Economy, Culture, and Education

·  Julie Longworth, Director of Children and Families

·  Farrah Khan, Deputy Director Children and Families


By way of introduction the Director of Children and Families highlighted the further national developments through the publication of further statutory guidance from Government, which support the recommendations of the Review. Leeds has progressed a number of the recommendations in the Review despite there being delays to implementation at national level, a key driver behind this is a desire to develop and improve services and improve outcomes for children and young people in Leeds.


Following comments and questions from board members the following issues were discussed:


·  The Board asked about the pathfinder projects that Leeds hoped to be selected for in terms of any update on the success of those bids. In response the Board heard that Leeds had unfortunately not been selected as a pathfinder authority for the Family Network Pilot or the Families First for Children Pilot Phase 2. Despite this there is still a commitment to develop services in the city and behave as if it were a pathfinder authority particularly given that Leeds has already been shaping and developing its services in recent years in the way set out in the Review, for example in areas such as family help, trusting relationships, kinship care and family group conferencing. The Board were supportive of this approach and that Leeds is leading the way in many of these areas.

·  The Board were concerned about developing these services without the funding that might be associated with being a pathfinder authority particularly given the wider financial challenge being faced by the authority. The Board were informed that Leeds is committed to continuous service improvement so many of the developments are happening anyway and the multi-agency, partnership approach was also stressed as a way of maximising resources and developing new approaches such as family help. Working collaboratively with agencies across the city including the third sector was emphasised as a way in which the challenge of reduced funding could be faced and improved services delivered despite that challenge.

·  The Board wanted to know more about kinship care and welcomed the work already being done in this area, a key area of interest was comparison with other local authorities. In response the Board heard that Leeds has a greater proportion of children cared for by family or kin compared to other local authorities. This is driven by the commitment to think family and where possible and safe ensure that children and young people are looked after by family. It was also noted that the offer to special guardianship carers has recently been revised to ensure that there is no financial detriment to looking after children and that through these arrangements there is less statutory intervention in the lives of children and young people which can be intrusive. The Board also heard that a key driver for service improvement is listening to feedback from careers and children and young people.

·  The Board requested if details from this meeting could be fed back to those behind the recent council deputation on children and young people in care being a protected characteristic. This was agreed to by attending officers.

·  Members asked about kinship care when it is not appropriate or safe for the child to meet or interact with parents. The Board heard that it can be difficult to manage the dynamics within families. But the Board heard that the regular reviews of the placement and Section 47 processes mean that social workers are assigned to both the child or young person and the kinship carer. In practice Section 47 means that safeguarding responsibilities apply and include partnership strategy meetings (including police and health) which develop approaches to safeguard the child and appropriate investigations carried out to ensure that the child is safeguarded.

·  The Board were keen to ensure that the dynamics of family are managed as part of kinship placements to ensure that all elements of the placement including the impact on the caring family and young people within that. The Board noted that the collaborative, strength based approach and the commitment to listening to kinship carers is an important element of how the service deals with this, the ‘think family’ approach. The Board also heard that the Council has one of the largest family group conference services in the country to support families along with the therapeutic social work team who provided consultation for both foster and kinship carers.

·  Members were keen to know more about how much weight is given to what the child wants. In response the Board heard that the child’s voice is central to the work of the directorate with trusted relationships a key element to facilitate the sharing of views with adults that can shape services. It was noted that in Leeds past inspections and internal audit work carried out by managers had indicated that the voice of the child is heard in Leeds.

·  A query was raised about the Working Together review which is referenced in the report and the response that was planned following past consideration of the issue by this Board. Members were informed that the work was completed and that more detail could be provided to members outside of the meeting.




The Board:


a)  noted the content of the update report, and the changes to statutory guidance which it outlines.

b)  Agreed to receive a further update report in autumn 2024, in line with further anticipated developments outlined in this report.


Supporting documents: