The report, published today, finds a number of serious concerns and that children and young people are not well served by the current arrangements for accessing support services in Powys.
In particular, significant changes to leadership and management arrangements in children’s services, with only interim appointments in place, has disrupted the workforce and as a result the service provided to children and their families.
A lack of assessment, care and support planning combined with an inconsistent approach to working in line with the child sexual exploitation guidance and the management of sexual exploitation and risk assessment framework process placed children at risk of harm. In addition, child protection processes did not always comply with statutory guidance with delays in investigations and assessments being undertaken and completion of statutory visits.
We found that staff have shown commitment, resilience and professionalism whilst coping with significant changes in leadership and management. However, there are serious performance issues with front line services arising from instability in management, poor and confused direction and weak governance. Without effective support and capacity to undertake the work, frontline staff cannot be expected to undertake the complex work required in children’s social services.
Since the inspection, we have been in close discussion with the chief executive and senior officers of Powys County Council to ensure urgent action is taken to improve children’s services.
Powys County Council is expected to produce an improvement plan in response to the recommendations in this report within 20 working days of publication. This plan will be closely monitored as part of our programme of inspection, engagement and performance review.
Chief Inspector, Gillian Baranski said:
It is clear from this report that we have serious concerns about the way children’s services are run by Powys County Council.
Whilst we have recognised the significant contribution staff have made under very difficult circumstances, we have serious concerns about leadership and management arrangements.
We have made this clear to Powys County Council and expect to see rapid improvement to ensure that children are safeguarded and families in Powys receive the level of service they deserve. We are monitoring this closely.