Support the #Respect4SocialWork campaign today and celebrate the social work profession.
Make an Enquiry
Contact Us

Children experience drift and delay in achieving permanence in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

Not enough children have a timely, well-considered plan for permanence at Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole children's services, Ofsted has revealed.
The councils previously serving the boroughs of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole have been replaced by one new council known as Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council. A new corporate director of children’s services came into post when the council came into being on 1 April 2019.
The senior leadership team has taken timely and effective measures to understand the experiences of children in care of the new council and senior leaders have found that not enough children have a timely, well-considered plan for permanence or have the security of being long-term matched to their forever home.
"Managers are not rigorous enough in providing direction to ensure that children’s plans are progressed quickly enough. Independent reviewing officers do not challenge the lack of pace in making important decisions for children. Consequently, children experience drift and delay in achieving their permanence plans," said the report following a focused visit of the authority which looked at its arrangements for planning and achieving permanence for children in care.
The senior leadership team is rightly embarking on a programme of integration and transformation. Senior leaders are aware of the strengths and areas for development and have realistic plans to achieve the necessary improvements.
Inspectors highlighted:
- For a significant number of children, important decisions about long-term arrangements when they cannot remain at home take too long. Early permanence planning, including parallel planning for adoption, is not sufficiently well considered.
- The quality of assessments and effectiveness of care planning for permanence is inconsistent.
- Independent reviewing officers rarely challenge when permanence plans for children are not presented to the second review.
- Not all children are long-term matched with their carers. These children do not have certainty about their future. They do not benefit from the sense of belonging and stability afforded by a secure placement.
- There is not yet a sufficiently wide choice of placements to meet children’s needs.
However, the report says that most children benefit from trusting relationships with social workers. Social workers visit regularly and spend quality time with children. Life-story work is a strength in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole and is not seen as a ‘one-off’ piece of work but continues throughout children’s lives.
Extended family members are considered as potential carers for children who cannot live at home. Furthermore, special guardianship and connected carers assessments are of a good quality. The rationale for recommendations and decisions is well explained so that family members understand them.
Most children in care are safe where they live and are living in their forever home. Foster carers are well supported through an extensive training offer and a broad range of monthly support groups. Family time is well considered, appropriately risk assessed and informed by what children want. It is arranged flexibly so that it is meaningful and promotes positive relationships for children with their family, as well as others who are important to them.
Supervision with social workers takes place regularly and staff talk positively about supervision and the support they receive from their managers. However, supervision records fail to demonstrate that permanence planning for children is at the forefront of discussions, or that permanence options have been carefully considered.
"Senior leaders are well aware of the issues identified by inspectors through their own audits, externally commissioned audits and data analysis. They demonstrate that they have well-thought-out and realistic actions to make the necessary improvements, for example acting promptly to create a new fostering panel that will focus on long-term matching arrangements, the creation of new permanence policies so that expectations are clear, and a new supervision policy and approach. However, it too soon to see the impact of these for children now," the report concluded.
In order to improve social work practice, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole should address permanence planning for children, including the use of parallel planning so that they achieve permanence at a time that is right for them.
The quality of care plans needs improving so that they reflect children’s current needs and circumstances and are informed by up-to-date, comprehensive needs assessments.
The effectiveness of management oversight should ensure timely permanence for children. The scrutiny of permanence planning by independent reviewing officers needs addressing so that children have timely and well-considered plans for permanence that progress.
Finally, the range and choice of placements needs improvement to meet children’s needs and support permanency planning.
Focused visit to Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Children’s Services

Knowledge & Resources

Keep abreast of the latest news in the children's services sector.

ParentAssess and founder Sarah Lowe nominated for three awards


ParentAssess founder Sarah Lowe’s outstanding contribution to social work has been recognised as she and the specialist parenting framework she established have been nominated for not one but three awards.

Sarah Lowe, founder ParentAssess

ParentAssess has been nominated for Innovation of the Year in the Family Law Awards and Executive Learning Disability and Autism Award in [...]

Read Full Story

Financial pressure is greatest challenge facing families


The most common challenge for families is worries about financial pressures and the rise in the cost of living, a Family Review by the children’s commissioner for England has found.

Children's commissioner for England Dame Rachel de Souza

The Family Review, which is based on research from a Literature Review, a Call for Evidence, commissioned surveys [...]

Read Full Story

School staff need help tackling child mental health as anxiety among students rises


Teachers are seeing increasing levels of anxiety and a rise in mental health problems among their students but lack the training and time to support young people.

Eighty two per cent of teachers are seeing anxious pupils and the worsening of existing mental health problems, compared to just one year ago, according to a survey [...]

Read Full Story
Children First is an online resource for professionals working with children presented by WillisPalmer, providing you with the latest news, features and interviews.
Subscribe Today

A Mackman Group collaboration - market research by Mackman Research | website design by Mackman

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram