Support of Local Authorities in these challenging times

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

During these difficult times, the impact of COVID-19 on children’s social work services is still yet to be fully realised. Dealing with the predicted impact and getting value for money and good quality services for young people and their families is currently at the forefront of senior managers’ thinking.

Many leaders in social care will be making plans for the anticipated spike in referrals as schools make plans to reopen and other multi-agency partners begin to re-engage with young people and their families. This is a critical time as young people come into contact with teachers and other professionals that they may not have had contact within several weeks, and we must be prepared for managing that demand.

Whilst some regulations have been eased as part of the government’s response to the pandemic, children’s safeguarding services are still working with children and their families safeguarding children and upholding children and families’ rights to live safely and well. Which means for us, visiting children within timescales and ensuring reviews are completed on time is still the norm. 

Working with families face-to-face, even at the door to a families’ home, is always preferable to remote contact. Now more than ever, we’re working closer with our colleagues to ensure that challenges within the homes and communities of the families we work with are well understood and that plans are in place to protect and support them.

We are working to understand the changes Councils are required to make; how to operate remotely with children under an EHC Plan and how to ensure that LAC placement visits still take place in site – especially as placements start, which can be a challenging time for children, their carers and their families.

The standard response to spikes in demand often gets agency workers to struggling teams to pick up new assessments or to cover unfinished work from colleagues who may have become ill or who have decided to take a well-earned break. This approach is often beset with problems of quality, consistency and appropriate oversight. An already struggling service may have to cope with extra staff and to deal with supervision, extra performance monitoring and individual performance issues.

The job of the ICS team is to offer tailored solutions to some of these challenges. We deliver value by increasing the capacity of frontline service delivery and helping to identify and solve underlying challenges. As a managed service, we provide the local authorities with teams of social workers of highly capable, skilled and experienced people who understand the challenges faced and are focussed on delivering high quality, child focussed assessments and plans that will improve outcomes for the whole family.

ICS can create a bespoke service that meets the emerging needs of the Local Authority built around a system that replicates best practice in managing and supporting social workers. That way, social workers can focus on undertaking holistic assessments with families that lead to focussed workplans. All the work undertaken is regularly reviewed to ensure progress is being made and that the young person remains at the centre of everything that is done and every decision that is made.

The teams have pioneered remote working for several years now and our operations are geared up to ensuring that all team members are supported in terms of quality and timeliness of the work that they do.

This support comes from project co-ordinators based in Manchester, who deliver administration and quality assurance so our social workers can be freed up to spend more time with young people and their families. Additionally, the project co-ordinators support the managers by taking away the administrative burden to allow them to focus on the quality of output, supervision, performance and quality assurance.

Case studies of some of the work we have undertaken can be found in here.

Please contact us at 0161 238 7485 to discuss how ICS can work with you to meet this challenge.