Council welcomes outstanding inspection report on Children’s Services

This inspection, which took place in October and November 2013, covered the range of services in the Council area that provide services to children, young people and families, including education, health, social work, police and the voluntary sector.  Inspectors examined the cases of more than 100 children, observed practice in a range of settings, scrutinised policies and procedures, and met with children, families and staff.

In an extremely positive report, the Care Inspectorate states that:

‘Services in Highland perform strongly in a number of important areas. This strong performance is founded upon the strength and clarity of vision for services for children and young people which is underpinned by a culture of creativity and innovation.

‘Successful implementation of ‘Getting it right for every child’ has resulted in effective and improving early intervention for vulnerable children and young people.”
‘The commitment to joint self-evaluation and performance management across the children’s services partnership is making a strong contribution to service improvement and achieving better outcomes for children. This is reinforced by the highly effective involvement of children and young people in policy and service planning.’

The report identifies examples of good practice, including:

  • A joint approach to self-evaluation across services
  • The ways in which young people are encouraged to be active in their communities
  • The support of learning and achievement for Gypsy Traveller children
    The report focuses on nine quality indicators, which are all measures of performance, and evaluates seven of these as ‘very good’ and two as ‘good’.

The following indicators are graded as ‘very good’, which means that the Care Inspectorate identified major strengths:

  • Providing help and support at an early stage 
  • The impact on children and young people  
  • Planning and improving services  
  • The participation of children, young people, families and other stakeholders 
  • Planning for individual children 
  • Leadership of improvement and change 
  • Improving the wellbeing of children and young people

The following indicators are graded as ‘good’, which means that the Care Inspectorate identified important strengths, with some areas for improvement:  

  • The impact on families 
  • Assessing and responding to risks and needs
    The Care Inspectorate conclude: ‘Children’s services in Highland have a track record of creativity, innovation and change.  The partnership has maintained a position at the forefront of the implementation of ‘Getting it right for every child’ and the integration of health and social care.  There are notable improvements in the wellbeing of children and young people’.

The Care Inspectorate says it is ’very confident that effective partnership in Highland will continue to improve’ in three areas of practice:

  • The assessment of the risks and needs for individual children and young people
  • Developing a strategic approach to commissioning that reflects the shared vision for children and young people
  • Continuing to provide the strong collaborative leadership needed to firmly embed new structures, implement a new integrated plan for services, and realise excellence in the impact and outcomes for children, young people and families.

The Highland Community Planning Partnership will publish an action plan, detailing how it will make these further improvements.

Members of the Community Planning Partnership have welcomed the report’s positive findings and believe that it accurately reflects how well services are working together to improve the lives of children, young people and families. The Partnership acknowledges the excellent leadership and direction of services for children and young people.

Council Leader Councillor Drew Hendry, who is Chair of the Community Planning Partnership, said: “This is an outstanding report, which is tribute to all of the staff working in services for children across Highland.  The Care Inspectorate have confirmed very good and improving practice, that is protecting Highland children and promoting their wellbeing.”

Councillor Alasdair Christie, Chair of the Education, Children & Adult Services Committee, said:  “This excellent report reflects many years of good work with children and families, to ensure we are being effective in supporting all of Highland’s children, and that we are also addressing the need of the more vulnerable.  We are not complacent, and we seek to continue to improve our services, but we can be assured about the very high standards that we are already achieving.  ‘Well done’ to all of our staff and our partner agencies”

Councillor Linda Munro, the Council Children’s Champion said: “This inspection across all of our children’s services coincides with a recent inspection of Highland Council’s Fostering Service.  That report evaluated performance as very good in all three areas: the Quality of Care and Support; Quality of Staffing; and the Quality of Management and Leadership.  I am delighted at the continuing high standard in these important services, which we all value so highly.”

The inspection reports can be found on the Care Inspectorate website at www.careinspectorate.com

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4 Apr 2014
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