A three-year plan setting out how the authority will improve the safeguarding of the city’s children is to go before the council’s cabinet.
The Children’s Social Care Improvement Plan 2014-2017 represents a significant step forward in the authority’s drive to improve children’s services in Birmingham, which were judged by Ofsted to be inadequate following an unannounced inspection in March this year.
The plan, which takes into account Ofsted’s findings, has already received the backing of Lord Norman Warner – the external commissioner appointed by the Department for Education (DfE) following the Le Grand Review in January – who will oversee its progress over the next three years, alongside the Birmingham City Council’s Safeguarding Improvement Quartet, comprising Leader of the Council Sir Albert Bore, Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services Cllr Brigid Jones, Chief Executive Mark Rogers and Director for People Peter Hay.
Significant progress has been made since these reviews, including filling key vacancies, increasing the number of qualified social workers, reducing average caseloads, increasing supervision to social workers and putting in place clear practice guidance.
The plan will focus on a different area for each year of its timeframe. Year 1 will focus on tackling the critical issues outlined by the DfE and establishing the foundations for improvement – or getting the basics right – including understanding and addressing unidentified risk, timely and effective assessment of children at risk, recruiting and retaining good staff, ensuring sufficient and effective leadership, ensuring financial stability of the service and having the right infrastructure in place to effectively manage risk.
Years 2 and 3 will focus on areas such as further development of the strategy, maximising opportunities to deliver better outcomes and value for money, and strengthening partnerships.
Cllr Jones said: “After an long period of review and some considerable uncertainty, we are now setting out the next steps of our plan to make our children safer. It is time to draw a line under the past and turn our services around.
“Lord Warner’s oversight has been incredibly valuable. He has endorsed this as a credible improvement plan, and will continue to check our progress and to give assurance that we do what we have said we will do and through this make the difference.”
The plan will be considered by the council’s cabinet at a meeting on 16 June.