Service Auditing:
Middlesbrough

“Innovate CYPS quickly mobilised and managed a team of high-quality auditors. They provided detailed insight at a time where we needed a trusted external view on the quality of assessments, interventions, and case management. Although we’ve got a way to go, we’re confident that we now have a clear improvement plan that has been informed by this work.”
Paula Jemson, Quality Assurance Manager, Middlesbrough Council

background
icon

4

4 Director-level auditors

background
icon

386

386 cases audited

background
icon

12-week

12-week thematic audit service

background
icon

101

101 reflective/mentoring meetings with managers

The Challenge

A disappointing Ofsted inspection of the local authority children’s services in November 2019, revealed that a high proportion of audited cases “did not adequately explore children’s lived experiences”. Audits were not “consistently addressing weaknesses”.

With Children’s Services having been judged as ‘Inadequate’ across the board, the local authority needed a far more robust and thorough audit process. This was to understand exactly where its failings were – at a service, team and individual practitioner level – so that it could quickly move forward with improvement plans.

The Solution:

To address the underlying case recording issues and accurately assess the existing position, the local authority called on Innovate CYPS to take over the auditing process over a 12-week period. This was to help inform the local authority’s immediate assurance plan to Ofsted over the same period. Quick mobilisation was key, and the project went live within three weeks.

First actions

Innovate CYPS’ first action was to allocate four highly-experienced social work auditors at assistant-director level and above.

The project could not have started at a more challenging time though. Just two weeks after the work started, the country went into full lockdown. Usually, Innovate CYPS’ auditors would be sitting amongst the local authority’s team.

However, Middlesbrough County Council were incredibly accommodating, ensuring the communications channels were open and that Innovate CYPS had the direct access required.

Together, Innovate CYPS and Middlesbrough quickly adapted, working remotely to communicate findings and to identify and monitor remedial actions from audits.

Moderation exercise

Since the local authority’s own internal auditing had not been externally scrutinised or moderated, Innovate CYPS’ moderated 386 case audits previously undertaken by internal managers. This enabled Innovate CYPS’ auditors to gain a thorough understanding of the inconsistencies in case auditing and to identify any specific challenges unique to Middlesbrough County Council.

Following the initial moderation exercise, Innovate CYPS’ auditors systematically audited 386 cases. These were all RAG-rated so that the local authority knew exactly where it was in closing the loop. Remedial actions were identified, with social workers having five days to complete them. These actions were closely monitored by Innovate CYPS’ business support team. To assist with completing the remedial actions, the auditors held remote workshops, 1:1 coaching and mentored staff.

Weekly risks and issues meetings were held to identify specific team and practitioner issues. In addition, monthly high-quality detailed audit reports were presented to the Operations and Strategic Management Board.

The results

Over 12 weeks, Innovate CYPS audited over 386 cases, including 87 assessment team audits, 63 front door audits, 105 neglect audits, 65 risk audits and 66 repeat Section 47 audits.

It was important that cases were audited as close to ‘live’ as possible to get an accurate picture of the current situation. Therefore, audits were carried out on assessments made within the previous week. This gave management far greater oversight on the quality of assessments and decision making at the front door.

During the second half of the project, Innovate CYPS’ auditors moderated 33 internal audits and provided reflective feedback on any inconsistencies in findings. This enabled learning and knowledge transfer on what ‘Good’ looks like.

Mentoring and reflecting

In total, 101 mentoring and reflection meetings were held with managers to enhance case management in their teams.

Feedback to the Director of Children’s Services and Paula Jemson, the project sponsor, also took place on a regular basis where direct feedback was provided.

Commenting on the long-term impact of the thematic auditing and how it has informing best practice, Paula said:

“My advice would be to make full use of Innovate CYPS’ auditors and practitioners and soak up their knowledge and approach. By working closely with Innovate CYPS we’ve got a clear improvement plan. Now that we know what ‘Good’ looks like, we’re closely monitoring the quality of case management and where changes need to be made.”

Children in Need

Children in Need

Reduce your reliance on long-term CIN plans. Our highly experienced CIN social work team will take on statutory case management and follow a locally-tailored, sustainable and intensive home-based intervention programme. We’ll leave you with reduced CIN numbers and a legacy model to prevent drift and avoid future delay.

Read More
Duty & Assessment

Duty & Assessment

Are you looking for more capacity within your duty and assessment team to clear a backlog of cases? Or do you reprieve to look at a service restructure. We can help by managing cases coming in for referral and assessment. So you can be confident your local authority is meeting its statutory responsibilities, whilst we give your staff the chance to bring their cases up-to-date and leave your service with manageable caseloads.

Read More
Edge of Care

Edge of Care

Reduce your edge of care costs and improve the life chances of vulnerable children and young people. Our solution brings statutory social work and multidisciplinary support together in a far more structured and focused way to deliver sustainable positive outcomes and huge cost-savings. Our aim is simple – to keep the young people we support safe and prevent them from being unnecessarily placed into care.

Read More
High-Cost Placements

High-Cost Placements

Our managed service model is proven to increase the range of foster care provision available to meet the needs of children who would otherwise be placed within high-cost residential or external foster care placements. In return, you’ll save on your placement budget, increase your in-house foster service capacity and capabilities to secure better outcomes and reduce the number of placement moves for children and young people.

Read More
MASH

MASH

Are you struggling to keep up with what is an impossible number of MASH referrals? Let us take the pressure off and help you develop a more robust, timely MASH. We’ll manage all contacts and referrals coming through your front-door and work with you to co-produce a new MASH model. One that secures timely outcomes for vulnerable children, young people and their families.

Read More
Discharge of Care

Discharge of Care

Could addressing a much-overlooked area of discharge of care orders reduce LAC numbers and create direct cost-savings? By introducing a new model that promotes the timely discharge of care orders and the conversion of foster carers or kinship carers into Special Guardians, we can achieve measurable cost-savings. All whilst securing plans of permanence for children and young people.

Read More
Safeguarding

Safeguarding

Do you have concerns about the length of time children are subject to child protection plans? If yes, how do you improve the timeliness of care proceedings and ensure that cases are front loaded? Holding case management for an agreed amount of time, we will dramatically increase the pace of action in progressing complex cases. We’ll also work with you to introduce proven sustainable longer-term solutions to reduce the risk of drift and delay.

Read More
Children with Disabilities

Children with Disabilities

In most cases, needs of those children and young people can be met within Early Help or outside of social care within the local authority’s existing offer. Proven to close up to 30% of cases to social services and step down a further 20%, Innovate CYPS’ 14-week Children with Disabilities (CWD) programme reduces costs whilst identifying new care pathways for children, young people and their families.

Read More
Service Auditing

Service Auditing

Are you preparing for an Ofsted inspection and want to understand where your services are at in terms of practice quality and performance? Our team will review your case files and practice across the child’s pathway to give you a thorough understanding of the areas that most need your attention.  As part of our knowledge-transfer, we also mentor your front-line managers on our auditing process for a 360 approach.

Read More
  • Children in Need
  • Duty & Assessment
  • Edge of Care
  • High-Cost Placements
  • MASH
  • Discharge of Care
  • Safeguarding
  • Children with Disabilities
  • Service Auditing

Want to know more?

Contact us to find out more about our service auditing programme.

Contact us