Children’s minister Edward Timpson is encouraged by improvements to child protection services in Northamptonshire.
Timpson made the comment in response to the third consecutive progress report about Northamptonshire’s improvement programme for children’s services
In a letter to the independent chair of the county’s improvement board, Timpson says: “I am encouraged by the improvements illustrated in your letter and the improvement plans detailed for the coming quarter.”
He added: “I am pleased with the overall performance now being realised with the management and review of caseloads, initial assessments, core assessments and initial child conferences which are all above Northamptonshire’s statistical neighbours.”
The minister made his comments in response to a progress report from the independent chair of the county’s improvement board, Christine Davies, in which she highlighted a number of improvements made by the council and its partners.
The progress report states: “There has been a clear focus on priorities from the council, its professional and political leaders and key partners. All remain energetically committed to securing and sustaining necessary improvements.”
In her report, Mrs Davies cautions that while much work has been undertaken, “it still remains that the council and its partners have much to do in order to deliver services that can be viewed as consistently adequate or good.”
Among the improvements noted were:
- A strengthened senior management team with the capacity to drive further improvement
- Stable caseloads for social workers
- A reduction in agency staff from 47 per cent to 37 per cent
- A sustained increase in the use of the standard assessment tool for all professionals working with children and families
- The creation of a focused action plan to strengthen safeguarding in schools
The council was issued with a Statutory Direction by the Department for Education in October 2013, requiring the establishment of an Improvement Board with an independent chair to assess and challenge the improvement programme and report back to government
Both reports form part of a cabinet report to be discussed at a meeting of the council’s cabinet this afternoon.