Concerns raised over support for West Dunbartonshire children at risk of harm

Concerns have been raised over support for children and young people at risk of harm in West Dunbartonshire – with a regulatory raising “significant challenges”.

The Care Inspectorate has published a critical interim report highlighting a range of issues.

The regulatory raised concerns faced by West Dunbartonshire Community Planning Partnership in managing the ongoing impact of the pandemic and the resources needed to do so.

Inspectors said there were problems around the quality of assessments, planning and reviews.

They note they do not “have confidence that the partnership was developing plans to provide timely interventions to meet needs and reduce risk, maximize safety and improve wellbeing”.

There were also discrepancies in how staff evaluated the effectiveness of their practice and what inspectors saw while examining evidence from children and young people’s records.

The approach leaders and managers were taking to monitoring practice standards and quality assurance was also described as “underdeveloped”.

Despite responding effectively when concerns about children and young people were first identified, the quality of later processes was deemed “inconsistent”.

Along with scrutiny partners Healthcare Improvement Scotland, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland and Education Scotland, the Care Inspectorate will lead a series of quality improvement sessions with a range of staff to support the partnership with the key areas for development.

The Care Inspectorate say the sessions, held between May and June this year, will help to focus the direction of improvement activity. Thereafter the regulator will monitor and evaluate the partnership’s progress and report on the improvements it has made.

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West Dunbartonshire Community Planning Partnership said an action plan is already in place.

A spokesman said: “Improving the lives of vulnerable children and young people is at the heart of our work and we welcome all recommendations made by the Care Inspectorate to strengthen the services we offer.

“A comprehensive action plan is already in place, with the HSCP allocating additional funding to support delivery.

“This work includes reinforcing the links between partners to ensure strong collaboration and regular information sharing, as well as introducing a range of new training and development opportunities for our employees.

“We recognize that there is work to be done, and we are committed to making these improvements to provide the most robust service we can to safeguard our vulnerable residents.”

At the request of Scottish Ministers, the regulator is leading joint inspections to consider the effectiveness of services for children and young people up to the age of 18 at risk of harm.

Edith Macintosh, interim Chief Executive of the Care Inspectorate, said: “Following this inspection, the Care Inspectorate and scrutiny partners decided the most appropriate course of action would be to support the partnership to undertake improvements in the key areas we have identified.

“While we are reassured that the partnership now knows where changes need to be made in order to improve, we feel that they need external support to take all the necessary actions. The partnership has agreed with this approach and has recognized the need for improvement.”

The inspection of services for children at risk of harm in the West Dunbartonshire community planning partnership area took place between October 2021 and March 2022.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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