Our findings and recommendations for children’s services in Gwynedd Council.
We inspected services for children at Gwynedd during May 2018.
The inspection looked at the experience and progress of children on the edge of care, children looked after and care leavers, and the use of fostering, residential care and out of area placements.
We also looked at child protection enquiries, urgent protective action, and care and support protection plans.
We found that children’s services had significant strengths with a committed and stable workforce which is responding to an increasing workload.
Referrals were responded to in a timely manner, but the Information Advice and Assistance (IAA) service is an area for ongoing development, and there were recognised gaps in prevention and early intervention across Gwynedd.
Assessments were timely, responsive and of good quality. The quality of care and support plans seen was inconsistent and assessments were not routinely updated where there had been a significant change in circumstances.
We saw evidence of care and support plans regularly reviewed in collaboration with children, families and partner agencies. There is a need to enable children, young people and families to have a clearer understanding of decisions made, and in a format which is easy to follow.
On the whole, children, young people and families were positive in respect of the support provided by Gwynedd Council.
There is a need to strengthen fostering arrangements to ensure children receive consistent positive experiences and outcomes. The availability of foster carers and suitable placements is a challenge.
Areas for development
- Address recognised gaps in prevention and early intervention, developing stronger links with community services with improved signposting,
- Assessments must be updated following a significant change in circumstances.
- Further develop reviewing arrangements for children looked after.
- Children, young people and families need to be supported to understand decisions underpinning care and support plans.
- Priority should be given to recruitment of foster carers to improve placement choice.
We expect the local authority to consider the areas identified for development and take appropriate action. We will monitor progress through our on-going engagement activity with the local authority.
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