Report of the Head of Children’s Social Care and Head of Children's Health and Wellbeing, attached.
The Committee considered a Report of the Head of Children’s Social Care and Head of Children's Health and Wellbeing on the Early Help Review which aimed to support families early, to transform the lived experience of children, young people and their families; work together earlier to support families build upon their strengths; integrate service delivery and invest in local communities to support children to thrive and deliver improved outcomes for children and families.
Benefits of the Early Help Programme included:
· Aligning Devon’s Early Offer to bring to reality ‘Right Support, Right Time, Right Person’.
· Children, young people and families would be supported to achieve outcomes in a timely manner.
· Provide financial security to Devon's Early Help Offer to develop a resilience workforce.
· More families supported within Early Help, reducing the number of children and families needing a social care assessment.
· Comprehensive and clear Early Help offer, supporting children stepping down from social care into Early Help.
· Helping Families early, building upon resilience and strengths.
· Provide strategic Early Help leadership and oversight, with the vision of one team approach.
· Reporting data used to inform responses and offer support.
Potential challenges faced in Devon included financial stability around the core early help budget, staff morale and recruitment; the commissioning of services and how these will meet the needs across Devon and how commissioning relationships could be developed; thresholds and criteria including the level of need to be understood across the partnership to ensure children receive the right support at the right time; capacity and recruitment issues with a number of teams struggling with the volume of work even if fully resourced; changing perceptions and attitudes around thinking outside the box to achieve transformation and practice improvement through performance and people.
Members’ discussion points with officers included:
- Savings in this Service area would come from a reduction in the number of children who required support, such as a reduction in the number of Child Protection Plans. Early Help was required to ensure families were supported at an early stage to build on their own resilience and ensure children did not re-enter the social care system again.
- There were multiple entry points into the system, such as through MASH or from local triage panels, which often led to delays. The Service was working to create a single-entry point with partners to respond to referrals in a timely way.
- The majority of work was focussed on 0-2 year age range which had been a significant risk during the pandemic; however the contract worked with children up to the age range 7-8years.
- Members were informed that the consequences of high profiles cases, as recently seen in the media, can cause significant anxieties amongst staff and partners as everything they do is to protect children. What would often happen as a result, is a drastic increase in referrals as individuals and practitioners do not feel confident to make assessments alone, making it harder to pick out those cases that are very serious and need further support from services.
- The Participation Team would advertise the proposals with children and families and ensure a child friendly version would be produced.
It was MOVED by Councillor Hannaford SECONDED by Councillor Aves and
(a) the draft vision for Early Help in Devon and Officers exploration of an Early Help operating model and offer, including the financial aspects, be approved;
(b) the Cabinet Member and Chief Officer consider the challenges that will need to be considered in achieving the vision for Early Help in Devon ; and,
(c) the Cabinet Member and Chief Officer be asked to report back on the progression of the vision for Early Help in Devon at a future meeting.