‘Clear signs of progress’ at Bucks children’s social services, says government

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Bucks County Council is making ‘clear signs of progress’ in its children’s social care service, according to the government, which has decided not to increase its current level of intervention.

Minister of State for Children and Families Edward Timpso’s letter said he recognised ‘the significant efforts which the council is making to improve children’s social care services’.

He noted the ‘overarching commitment to address the weaknesses which Ofsted identified’ in its highly criticical 2014 report.

Mr Timpson some areas still required improvement such as ‘the need for the council to articulate a clear vision and strategy for its children’s services’. He added: “I am also concerned by comments around consistency of social work practice.”

The letter follows a visit by staff from the Department in November to reviewprogress. A follow up auditing of casework was also undertaken in January 2016 by DfE appointed advisors. A further review is planned in early summer.

Lin Hazell, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “The Minister’s decision shows that we are improving and are moving in the right direction.

“This is good news and demonstrates the continued commitment to the children of Buckinghamshire by our social care staff and our partners, who show unwavering resolve to drive through improvements. I and my colleagues in Cabinet are determined to continue to support the drive to improve services for children in Buckinghamshire.”

David Johnston, managing director for children’s social care and learning, added: “It’s important to note that all of the areas the Minister has identified for further improvement are already being addressed and are included in our refreshed improvement plan.

“We are all committed to achieving the best outcomes for children and their families, and they are at the heart of everything we do.”

Superintendent Olly Wright, Aylesbury Vale Local Police Area Commander, said: “Thames Valley Police continues to work very closely with Buckinghamshire County Council and the range of other partners involved in keeping children safe in Buckinghamshire. We remain committed to working as a key member of the partnership, alongside social care, schools, the NHS and others because there is nothing more important than the protection of children and other vulnerable people from those who would cause them harm.”

Lou Patten, Chief Officer of NHS Aylesbury Vale Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The local NHS remains entirely committed to working as part of the wider system partnership to ensure the progress in keeping children safe continues. There has been a huge amount of work undertaken by the County Council and all partners; I am pleased to see this has been recognised by the Department for Education. We are all committed to continuing this work to make sure children and families in need in Buckinghamshire always receive the best possible support and outcomes.”

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