The Service Manager – Safeguarding and Change introduced the report with the following points:-
1. There was a significant governance structure around assurance which includes quarterly meetings between the Executive Director for Resources and the Independent Chair of the Bristol Children’s Safeguarding Board and a bi-monthly Children’s Services Improvement and Transformation Board;
2. Social work practices were improving as reduced workloads gave Social Workers more time to work with children and families;
3. Reduced caseloads and improved performance management was driving improved performance across key performance measures;
4. Bristol City Council was one of only five Councils that won a bid to work with the University of Bedfordshire in the Contextual Safeguarding Scale Up Project which focussed on safeguarding in situations of extra-familial abuse and exploitation such as criminal or sexual exploitation, serious youth violence and gangs;
5. There was a relatively stable work force, however, turnover was at 19%. Agency staff use remained relatively low though a growth was anticipated this quarter due to the difficulties in recruiting. These factors added to the safeguarding and financial risks faced by the Council;
6. The Committee noted the key risks to the service as set out in paras. 7.9 to 7.15.
The following points arose from discussion:-
1. Caseloads were monitored by volume and assessment. New analytics allowed for monitoring across the city in order to determine where there was greater need for social services;
2. Colleagues within the Licensing Authority provided training for drivers to understand safeguarding issues. There was an Exploitation Group which consisted of officers across the neighbouring authorities;
3. With regard to a timeline for inspections to move to good, the Committee noted that improvements were already taking place. Meetings were held with Ofsted annually so that there was a clear plan ahead of full inspections;
4. Councillor Hickman noted that many families in her ward would become foster carers but were prevented because of the stipulation that a foster child must have their own room and hoped there would be movement on that so that a new cohort could replace ageing foster carers;
5. Simon Cookson stated that the report was an interesting and positive read. He noted the ongoing dialogue with Ofsted and suggested that an update be brought to the Committee after the next inspection for assurance purposes;
6. Councillor Brain referred to Appendix 2 and praised the three lines of defence for each risk. In response to his question, it was noted that 281 children had gone missing from home but this accounted for 520 episodes as some children did it more than once;
7. The Director - Finance referred to the Statutory Policy Board which met quarterly and undertook ‘deep dives’ on matters of statutory business and significant improvements had been noted. 8. It was noted that based on 2018/19 figures it cost the Council on average £4,700 per annum across primary and secondary to keep a child in mainstream school and c.£20,000 per annum comparative data for a pupil referral unit;
9. The Chair thanked the Service Manager for presenting an interesting and positive report and thanked her for her time.
1. That the assurances offered in terms of the effectiveness of approaches being undertaken to safeguarding vulnerable children be noted and;
2. That the progress made since the Ofsted Single Inspection of 2014 as reflected in the September 2018 Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services be noted.