The Annual Safeguarding Report, presented to the County Council’s Cabinet today (15 September 2017), sets out the Authority’s high standard of practice, particularly around protecting children across the county from abuse and neglect - as highlighted by the most recent Joint Targeted Area Inspection (JTAI) of Hampshire Children’s Services and Partners. In the report, the feedback letter is cited as being “one of the most positive of any authorities nationally”.
Welcoming the report, Councillor Keith Mans, Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services, said: “It is incredibly reassuring to know that the safety and wellbeing of our most vulnerable children and young people is in good hands. Our Children’s Services Department is among the top three per cent of the highest performing authorities in the country.
“It is this strong track record that led to the Department for Education calling on us to support the Isle of Wight and Torbay Councils, in improving their children’s social care and education services, as well as selecting us to be one of the few authorities to be one of their ‘Partners in Practice’, to transform social work.
“It is equally good to see that we are continuing to deliver positive outcomes for children across the board, in spite of the challenges of increasing demand for services and ongoing national austerity.”
In the financial year ending in March 2017, the number of calls to Hampshire’s Children’s Services, from people reporting concerns about a child, rose by 11.9 per cent on the previous year (87,235 calls).
However, despite the ongoing pressures, Children’s Services has successfully reduced the number of children in the County Council’s care - supporting them to be able to return home safely to the care of their family, or the care of adopting parents. Alongside this, the County Council’s robust child protection planning process and its proactive approach to supporting children and families, means that few child protection plans need to be in place for longer than two years.
Reflecting Ofsted’s judgement that the County Council’s Children’s Services are ‘good’ with ‘outstanding’ features, inspections of the Authority’s residential homes for children have resulted in ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ gradings.
Work by the County Council’s Youth Offending Team (YOT) and the Youth Crime Prevention Team to prevent offending and reoffending by children and young people aged 10 -17 years, is also highlighted in the report. During the year, the teams worked with over 1,100 children. In April 2016, the Team was awarded the Restorative Services Quality Mark by the Restorative Justice Council. This was followed, in 2017, by the Youth Justice Board describing the YOT’s performance as “exceptional” - commending their work in reducing the number of young people entering the criminal justice system.
Strong performance by Hampshire County Council has ensured that over 10,000 children and young people in Hampshire received the appropriate support, care and intervention to safeguard them from harm in 2016/17.