Inspectors report ‘major weaknesses’ in services for children and young people in Orkney

Inspectors have reported major weaknesses in the way children and young people in need of care and protection are supported and cared for in Orkney.

The Care Inspectorate looked at how staff worked together across a range of services in the Orkney Community Planning Partnership area, including social work, health and education staff, police officers, and children’s reporters.

The inspection report identified strengths in the relationships that were built between children and key staff and carers. The majority of care leavers were well supported in their transition to adulthood. However it also found significant areas for improvement.

Inspectors identified priority areas were:

  • Ensuring key child protection processes including inter-agency referral discussions, risk assessments, case conferences and core groups work effectively to protect children at risk of harm.
  • Publishing comprehensive up-to-date inter-agency child protection procedures and training staff on these to clarify roles and responsibilities, and to help staff to be confident in their work.
  • Bringing about a step change in the impact of corporate parenting by delivering tangible improvements in the wellbeing and life chances of looked after children, young people and care leavers.
  • Strengthening key child protection processes, fully implementing the Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) approach, and commissioning services to meet priority areas of need including therapeutic and family support services.
  • Improving the effectiveness and oversight of the public protection committee in carrying out core functions to protect children and young people.”

Peter Macleod, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate said: “It was clear that the partnership was experiencing major challenges in ensuring that the most vulnerable children in need of care and protection consistently get all the help they need, when they need it.

“A significant amount of work is needed to reduce the risks created by inconsistencies in key child protection processes, embed accountability for, and shared ownership of, corporate parenting and modernise approaches to services for children and young people in need of care and protection.

“We recognise the Community Planning Partnership has limited capacity with a very small pool of managers available to take forward improvements at pace while also meeting operational demands.

“We are pleased that leaders in Orkney recognise the need for external resource and expertise because we cannot be confident that they will be able to make the necessary improvements quickly enough without additional support.

“We are aware that the partnership is putting in place a plan to take forward the actions needed to improve. We will maintain close links with the partnership to monitor the progress of improvement.”

The Care Inspectorate leads joint inspections which focus 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 who are, or have been, looked after by the local authority.

Download the report here.

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