Service Auditing: North West Council

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100

100 cases audited

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5 months

5-month phased Thematic Service Audit

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3

Three highly-experienced auditors, on-site at least 4 days a week

The challenge

A disappointing Ofsted inspection of children’s social care services earlier in the year revealed, amongst many things, that case records did not accurately take account of the child’s lived experience, managers’ case recording was limited in evidence and the case discussions on children’s files was too brief. Furthermore, the quality assurance in the six months leading up to the Ofsted inspection had not accurately assessed practice. This was because there were continued concerns regarding the application of thresholds throughout the council.

To address the underlying case recording issues and accurately assess the existing position, the council called on Innovate CYPS to carry out a robust thematic audit of 100 cases.

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Our approach

Fully managing the service audit process over 5 months, our first action was to allocate three highly experienced social work auditors at assistant-director level and above to carry out thematic audits. The auditors were based at the local authority for four days per week and worked from home the remaining day.

Since previous audit work has not been subject to external scrutiny or moderation, Innovate CYPS’ first task involved the moderation of 41 case audits previously undertaken by internal managers.

The next phase

Following the first 41 case audit reviews, 28 cases of Children in Need or those subject to a child protection plan were audited.  This was followed by a further 28 cases of Looked-After-Children, care leavers and contacts that led to no further action at the front door.

The final phase of auditing involved 10 referrals leading to Early Help, five referrals to assessment and five to Section 47. In addition, moderation of 10 audits completed by the internal managers were undertaken.

Weekly data reports were provided to the council identifying the number of audits completed, the teams the case belonged to, case type and grading. Monthly reports also evidenced findings, identified trends, themes, patterns, quality of practice and the impact of intervention.

Upskilling and mentoring

Crucially, the auditors focused on upskilling and mentoring staff to improve quality of their own case file audits focusing on outcomes for children and young people and looking at the impact of intervention. They devised remedial action plans for every case file audit undertaken using a RAG rating system. Once a case audit was completed, social workers/team managers were given a maximum of five days to complete remedial actions.  To assist with completing the remedial actions, the auditors held workshops, 1:1 coaching and mentored staff. Similarly, team managers were also given training to enhance case management within their teams.

Innovate Services’ Head of Service also undertook a moderation exercise of a sample of case audits that the Innovates team of auditors had completed. This added another layer of managerial oversight.

Feedback to the Director of Social Care and the project sponsor also took place on a regular basis where direct feedback was provided.

The results

With the auditors all experienced at assistant director-level and above, Innovate CYPS provided an objective view; drawing on the experiences of other local authorities.  The team chased remedial actions and were able to look at the impact of the audits.  They also used the audit findings to not only evidence knowledge-gaps in the workforce but also within service areas.

With knowledge-transfer being a key element of Innovate CYPS’ Service Auditing offer, the council’s audit process is now more robust and complies with the local authority’s policies and procedures. Case recording has also improved, with social workers and managers better informed on how to evidence the child’s lived experience. Threshold application is beginning to be better understood and embedded, and the council know themselves better.

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What our clients say

“If it was not for Innovate CYPS’ Social Worker’s persistence and patience we would not be where we are with the family today.”

Olivia Wittich, Alternative Provision Manager,
Enfield Secondary Behaviour Support Service

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.

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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.

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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.

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High-Cost Placement

High-Cost Placement

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  • Children in Need
  • Duty & Assessment
  • Edge of Care
  • High-Cost Placement
  • 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.

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