More must be done to improve Anglesey children’s service says inspectors

MORE must be done to improve the quality of children’s services at the county council, say inspectors.

A team from the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales visited Anglesey Council in October to examine “the quality of the safeguarding service and the council’s ability to sustain and improve the service”.

The inspection – the second to be carried out at children’s services last year – found “limited progress” in making improvements to safeguarding within the department, and urged the council to make improvement a priority.

Although a programme of improvement has been in place since September, the CSSIW warned that the council “needs to increase the pace and depth of improvement”.

Services safeguarding children in Anglesey were “still poor with ineffective management of risk”, said inspectors.

However, they found that staff were “more positive and motivated” and that staffing levels had increased.

Other agencies had reported “some progress in the practice and communication”, and “more timely and effective initial assessments” were being undertaken.

The inspectors, who spent seven days at the authority and examined 17 case files, said that leadership arrangements within the council were “not sufficient to deliver the necessary improvement agenda”.

The report notes that face-to-face discussion often occurred among officers and the executive.

“The council must ensure that it has robust systems regarding governance, accountability and transparent reporting,” it states.

“These informal arrangements create the potential for uncertainty and misunderstanding.”

The CSSIW also identified a “lack of management oversight which has been present for many years”.

The salaries paid to social workers, managers and other staff are described as lower than those of other councils in Wales.

The report states that this has affected the recruitment and retention of staff at the council.

However, social workers felt their reduced case loads were “more manageable” and that the department is “beginning to make changes that have been implemented in other places for many years”.

Stephen Sloss, interim director of housing and social services at Anglesey Council, said: “The authority welcomes the CSSIW report and its constructive criticism to inform our improvement programme, which has been having a positive impact since September.

“We appreciate the central message that change has not been progressing with sufficient pace.

“The county council is taking immediate steps to address the pace of change.

“The children’s service is currently working closely with the CSSIW to develop a robust and comprehensive action plan which will further drive improvements forward.

“The children’s services improvement board will continue to ensure that improvements aimed at safeguarding and promoting the welfare of our children continue in line with the CSSIW’s recommendations.”

An earlier report, published in July after inspectors visited the council in February and March, described the service as “poor” and future improvement as “uncertain”.