Joint inspectorate review of child protection arrangements (JICPA): The County of Bridgend
A joint inspectorate review of child protection arrangements in Bridgend County has found improvements have been made, but practice is variable when it comes to protecting children.
Between 12 and 16 June 2023, Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW), Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW), Estyn and His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) carried out a joint inspection of the multi-agency safeguarding arrangements for children aged 11 and under who are at risk of abuse and neglect in Bridgend county.
In common with many areas across Wales, recruitment and retention of key staff is impacting on children’s safeguarding arrangements. This is exacerbated by high levels of demand and increasing complexity of children’s and families’ needs.
The workforce position within social services remains fragile. Deficits in the number of social workers and a competitive market has resulted in an increased reliance on agency social workers.
Despite these workforce issues, inspectors found that significant actions have been taken and improvements have been made by Bridgend County Borough Council’s children’s services and partners since Care Inspectorate Wales’s previous full inspection in May 2022 and its follow-up visit in November 2022.
Positive practice includes:
- Professionals identify children in need of help and protection and report their concerns accordingly enabling accurate, early decision-making.
- Actual and potential risks are better identified with proportionate actions taken to protect children.
- There are examples of the local authority and partners responding promptly and effectively to meet the needs of children, especially where acute need and risk is identified.
- Schools across Bridgend County work well with a wide range of services to support children and families.
- There is good multi-agency attendance and participation in child protection meetings arranged under the Wales Safeguarding Procedures.
Overall, systems and relationships are in place to facilitate effective partnership working where a child is at risk of abuse and neglect. There are, however, areas of child protection which are inconsistent and require attention. These include:
- Challenges in sharing information between agencies in the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub.
- Immediate actions are taken to promote children’s safety but there can be gaps following an initial inquiry. This may represent a missed opportunity to share essential information and discuss the outcome of the inquiry with all relevant agencies.
- The quality of care and support protection plans is too variable.
- There are gaps in recording and in supervision which need to be addressed by managerial oversight and a focus on the quality of practice.
A spokesperson for Care Inspectorate Wales said:
“This joint inspectorate review of child protection arrangements in Bridgend county is one of a series of similar inspections across Wales that focus specifically on child protection procedures and processes.
“We are pleased to see a number of improvements in some areas of practice, and will be working closely with all partner agencies with a responsibility for child protection in Bridgend county to address gaps and monitor progress.
“Children’s safety is everyone’s responsibility. Collectively, we are committed to raising standards and delivering positive outcomes for the children and young people most at risk across Wales.”
|Joint Inspection Review of Child Protection Arrangements (JICPA): Bridgend, June 2023 – Child friendly|