Children’s services in Stirling improve but older care leavers not consistently supported

Inspectors have today reported key strengths in the way children and young people in need of care in Stirling are cared for but older care leavers were not always consistently supported.

The Care Inspectorate who led the joint inspection (with Education Scotland, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and HMICS), focused on how well services are working together to improve the lives of children and young people who have experienced or are at risk of abuse and neglect, and those looked after by the local authority.

Inspectors looked at how staff worked together across a range of services in the Stirling community planning partnership area, including social work, health and education staff, police officers, and children’s reporters.

Key findings included:

  • Inspectors found that the emphasis on nurture and trauma-informed practice in universal services was improving the safety and wellbeing of children and young people in need of care and protection.
  • Many parents and carers had become more confident. The wide range of universal and targeted services had helped build their knowledge and parenting skills. They had been helped to make and sustain important changes in their behaviour.
  • Strong collaborative working and delegated leadership had successfully brought children and young people back into their local communities and more effectively supported other children to remain with their families.
  • Most children and young people in need of care and protection enjoyed sincere and trusting relationships with carers and staff who knew them well.

Inspectors also identified some areas for improvement:

  • Older care leavers did not always experience a consistently high quality of support into adulthood because they had not benefited from the recent improvements in the throughcare and aftercare service.
  • Chief officers need to take timely action to identify and address all emerging and potential risks. Although they have begun the process of strengthening their oversight of public protection this has not yet had the necessary impact.
  • Inspectors also noted that, partners were not yet fully analysing data to understand cause and effect, demonstrating improving trends in all relevant areas or making full use of their high-quality perceptual and observational information.
  • Partners had not yet fully developed a cohesive, shared and systematic approach to joint self-evaluation and quality assurance.

Peter Macleod, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate said: “The Care Inspectorate and its scrutiny partners are confident that the partnership in Stirling has the capacity to continue to improve and to address the points highlighted in this report.

“This is based on staff across services working well together to deliver sustainable positive change for children, young people and families and a significant improvement in assessment of risk and need since the last full joint inspection in 2014.

“We also note leaders having achieved significant service redesign over the last two years.

“The partnership will need to maintain its strong focus on improving the quality of services for children and young people in need of care and protection. The chief officers’ group must establish robust oversight of child protection processes and take timely action to address emerging or potential risks. More systematic analysis of data gathered, further development of joint self-evaluation and strengthened quality assurance should help deliver ongoing improvement.”

Download the report is here.

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