Con­certed ef­forts for chil­dren’s care

£5.8m to ad­dress ser­vice ‘weak­nesses’

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Laura Mowat laura.mowat@trin­i­tymir­

EMER­GENCY funds are to be re­leased to ad­dress ‘sober­ing’ fail­ings in chil­dren’s so­cial care at Bucks County Coun­cil (BCC).

In Au­gust, Of­sted la­belled the ser­vice as ‘in­ad­e­quate’, and the mat­ter was dis­cussed at a cab­i­net meet­ing on Mon­day.

Be­tween 2012/13 and 2013/14, there was an un­prece­dented rise in de­mand for ser­vices – an in­crease of 70 per cent in re­fer­rals to chil­dren’s so­cial care and of about 14 per cent in the num­ber of young peo­ple com­ing into the care of the au­thor­ity.

Coun­cil­lor Martin Tett, leader of BCC, said: “Those are phe­nom­e­nal lev­els of in­crease and re­sulted in many of our staff hav­ing un­ac­cept­able work­loads.”

BCC will be re­leas­ing nearly £6mil­lion to im­prove the ser­vice that it pro­vides, which will be mainly used to in­crease staffing.

Cab­i­net mem­ber for chil­dren’s ser­vices, coun­cil­lor An­gela Macpher­son, said: “We need to ad­dress de­mand and caseloads. Although we have taken mea­sures to ad­dress some of th­ese is­sues, Of­sted ar­rived for their in­spec­tion while we were in the mid­dle of th­ese changes. They recog­nised that there was work in progress but iden­ti­fied weak­ness.”

The cab­i­net will be re­leas­ing £1m from its con­tin­gency fund and £4.8m from re­serves for the port­fo­lio.

Coun­cil­lor Peter Hardy said: “The Of­sted re­port was very sober­ing on all mem­bers of this coun­cil and we have to re­act to it to get it right.”

BCC set up a task and fin­ish group in Fe­bru­ary this year to help tackle the prob­lems.

Coun­cil­lor Tri­cia Birch­ley said: “It is my ab­so­lute pri­or­ity to safe­guard our chil­dren. Since the Baby P prob­lem, there has been an ex­plo­sion of chil­dren in care.”

BCC stated that there had been prob­lems with re­cruit­ing per­ma­nent, ex­pe­ri­enced so­cial work­ers, which re­sulted in an un­man­age­able work­load and a high turnover of staff.

Sue Im­bri­ano, di­rec­tor of chil­dren’s ser­vices, said: “The re­port shows the com­mit­ment, ded­i­ca­tion and the knowl­edge of chil­dren that our staff have; that is recorded as a strength. There is an aw­ful lot of loy­alty and good­will and staff want­ing to move for­ward.”

The coun­cil has 70 days to sub­mit de­tailed im­prove­ment plans to Of­sted, which are cur­rently be­ing de­vel­oped. A RES­I­DEN­TIAL home has had its sec­ond support group for un­paid fam­ily car­ers.

Sun­rise Se­nior Liv­ing, in Sta­tion Road, Bea­cons­field, hosted the meet­ing with Car­ers Bucks on Fri­day last week.

Car­ers Bucks is an in­de­pen­dent char­ity sup­port­ing fam­ily car­ers in Buck­ing­hamshire.

The support group was launched in June and meets reg­u­larly in the up­stairs lounge at Sun­rise.

Cur­rently, one in eight adults in the UK are car­ers and three in five of us will be­come a carer at some point in our lives.

The support group gives lo­cal car­ers the chance to meet peo­ple in sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions and pro­vides a fo­rum to ex­change views and ex­pe­ri­ences.

A pro­gramme of talks is also planned for the meet­ings, which are held on the first Fri­day of each month, be­tween 1.30pm and 3.30pm.

All lo­cal fam­ily car­ers are wel­come to at­tend. Call 0300 777 2722.

Photo by Chris Berry www.buyapho­ NL201410483_01

GATH­ER­ING: Car­ers Bucks Bea­cons­field Support Group meet­ing at Sun­rise Se­nior Liv­ing, led by Val Dom­mett (left), health li­ai­son worker

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