Agenda and minutes

Safeguarding Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Monday 1st March 2021 11:20am

Venue: Meeting to be conducted using Microsoft Teams

Contact: Helen Phillips  Email:


No. Item


Declarations of Interest

Additional documents:


There were none at this meeting.


Minutes of the meeting held on 6 January 2021 pdf icon PDF 231 KB

Additional documents:


RESOLVED: That the minutes of the Safe & Strong Communities select Committee meeting held on 6 January 2021 be confirmed and signed by the Vice-Chairman.


Children & Families Transformation Phase 2 Update & Learning from the Serious Case Review

Presentation of the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People


Additional documents:


The Serious Case Review (SCR) had been commissioned by the Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire Safeguarding Children’s Board following a house fire in 2019 in which four children had died. The Cabinet Member for Children and Young People shared details of the Review with Members and the harrowing nature of the event. Findings had showed the incident could not have been predicted but highlighting areas for learning.


Members received a presentation from the Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families and Communities on learning from the SCR feeding into the Transformation programme.


Late in 2018 and the beginning of 2019 there had been difficulties in recruiting and retaining social workers. At that time Staffordshire was the only authority rated “good” in the West Midlands. Consequently, some surrounding authorities offered financial inducements for Staffordshire social workers to move authorities.  Loosing staff resulted in agency social worker staff numbers rising to 18% and an increase in case load numbers to an average of 30 cases per social worker. The insidious nature of long-term neglect was not always acknowledged at that time until a threshold event occurred to prompt intervention.


Members heard that the formal consultation for the Children and Families Transformation Phase 2 commenced today, concluding on 10 May. The Transformation to date had evidenced developments since the incident in 2019. The social worker vacancy rate is now 4%, returning to the relative stability prior to 2018. The average case load per social worker was now down to 18. A professional lead for practice and development had been included into the proposed structure with the re-introduction of the Principal Social Worker post. Becky Reynolds had been appointed to the position and was an outstanding addition to the Directorate, working with front line staff to identify training needs and embed development, including around long-term neglect. A recent National Social Workers survey had shown that Staffordshire social workers felt more supported than their regional and national peers. Investment had been made in the number of family support workers, with their expertise in helping to combat neglect being key.


An important component of the Transformation programme was making the currently complex and bureaucratic IT systems easier, enabling more time to be spent with families and less time on form filling. Currently 60% of a social worker’s time was taken with administration and 40% working directly with families.  The aspiration was to flip this enabling more time working directly with families, simplifying and streamlining processes, as well as introducing further administrative support.


Restorative practice had been introduced 12 months ago, focusing on direct work with families. This was a model that all outstanding authorities used and enabled constant contact with families, early identification of changes and the introduction of actions to address these. Staffordshire was also one of a handful of authorities to take part in a Social Workers in Schools pilot project which brought education and social work professionals together to help identify signs of neglect and address these at the earliest opportunity. Recognising and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 300 KB

Additional documents:


The Select Committee noted their work programme, with one meeting left in this municipal year on 22 April considering:

·         Catch 22

·         Domestic Violence

·         Contextual Safeguarding review


Members were aware that this meeting would be held during purdah.


RESOLVED: That the work programme be noted.