Waltham Forest Safeguarding Children Board
Annual Safeguarding Report 2015 - 2016
Report author: Fran Pearson
WFSCB independent chair
v3 January 2017
The Annual Report of the Waltham Forest Safeguarding Children Board is a chance to look back on the year from April 2015 to March 2016, but it also looks forward to plans for 2016 to 2017. This is so we can show how we aim to tackle the areas where the Board did not make the intended impact on outcomes for children and young people during the year.
Local and national context
Resources, including the resource of all those who work in safeguarding in Waltham Forest: At the March 2016 Board meeting, members came prepared for a debate about the impact of resource cuts on their ability to contribute to the safeguarding of children in the borough. This was the context in which organisations operated throughout the year and in which they will be delivering services in 2016-2017. One example of professional groups undergoing huge change came from North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT) - the provider of health visiting and school nursing services. At the time, discussions were under way about the new contract, which would see reduced funding for these services where there are also recruitment difficulties. Other agencies recognised the issue of changes to the roles and function of staff and agreed that all work on the Board's priorities needs to be underpinned by us leading the training and support to staff so they develop new skills which in turn enable organisations to support and protect the borough's most vulnerable children and families.
The Wood Review of Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs): At Christmas 2015, the Prime Minister announced a large-scale review of safeguarding partnership arrangements, to be led by Alan Wood, a well-known and well-regarded children's services leader. This would include safeguarding children boards, but also two functions undertaken by boards - the collection, analysis and response to child deaths by the Child Death Overview Panel that each local area has; and the commissioning of Serious Case Reviews (SCRs), when a child dies or is seriously harmed and abuse or neglect is known or suspected - which currently sits with LSCBs. Alan Wood gathered evidence for his review from January to March 2016 and Board members contributed via surveys and face to face meetings, organised by a range of interested national groups. The Wood Review was published in June 2016 and legislation to enable the changes proposed by Alan Wood is currently making its way through Parliament. In Waltham Forest, discussions are already well under way about how to respond, with a local leaders' summit planned for early October 2016.
Safeguarding in Education - new statutory guidance: as the year began, the government published Keeping Children Safe in Education - which sets out what headteachers, teachers and staff, governing bodies, proprietors and management committees are expected to do. Education colleagues are hugely important members of our partnership, and this guidance was a timely reminder of the scale of the safeguarding responsibilities that they hold, but also for the Board in terms of our support to the sector.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse: after difficulties appointing a chair, the national enquiry began its work of investigating "whether public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales". Awareness of the inquiry and the issues it will raise over what are likely to be many years, will be a task for all local safeguarding partnerships.
The format and style of this report
This is the second year of producing a shorter annual report than in years before, based on my assessment of progress and the impact the Board has made. I took last year's report to the Scrutiny Committee of local councillors in Waltham Forest, but would very much like a wider audience for it this year, so please do contact me if you would like me to present the report to your organisation or to any community group you are connected with.
I would like to thank all our Board members, who continue to ask questions of themselves, me, and of each other, about the way we safeguard children in Waltham Forest. The more curious we are, the more chance we have of making an impact. I would also like to thank the hard-working team who support the Board, managed by Suzanne Elwick. During the year, as you will read, the officers who support the Board went through significant changes as a Strategic Partnerships Unit was set up to provide co-ordinated support to not just the Safeguarding Children Board, but also the Safeguarding Adults Board, the Health and Wellbeing Board and the Community Safety Partnership (SafetyNet) for Waltham Forest.
I hope you will look at our plans for 2016-2017 and use these to ask me some questions about how effective the Board is in leading and driving improvements in safeguarding children in Waltham Forest.
The structure of this report
Section 1: The context of Waltham Forest and what it means for the Board
Our partners - risks, performance and contribution to multi-agency safeguarding
Section 2: The year's priorities - did we make an impact?
- 2015 - 2016 priorities
- Serious Case Reviews
Section 3: Reports to the Board and what they tell us about impact
- The Annual Private Fostering Report
- The Child Death Overview Panel Report
- The Local Authority Designated Officer Report
Section 4: 2016-2017 - How we hope our plans will deliver greater impact
Section 5: Membership and Funding
- The Board's members and their attendance during 2015-2016
- The Board and its subgroups: structure chart
- The Board's budget and contributions from partners
- The chair and accountability
Section 6: Conclusions - how effective was the Waltham Forest Safeguarding Children Board 2015-2016?
- What makes an effective LSCB?
- Conclusions about our board
How to have your say about this report
Section 1 Our borough
65,100 children and young people under the age of 18 years live in Waltham Forest. This is 24% of the total population in the area.
(ONS 2015 mid-year population estimates – figure is rounded to the nearest 100)
According to the latest estimates published by the End Child Poverty Campaign in November 2016, approximately 35% of children are living in poverty in Waltham Forest.
(Definition of living in poverty: Households are living in poverty if their household income, adjusted to account for household size, is less than 60% of the average. Poverty rates are calculated on an after housing costs basis. )
The proportion of children entitled to free school meals in Waltham Forest:
- In primary schools is 15.0% (the national average is 14.5%)
- In secondary schools is 16.4% (the national average is 13.2%).
Population projections for 2016 indicate that approximately 78% of children living in Waltham Forest are from minority ethnic backgrounds.
(GLA ethnic group population projections for 2016)
The 0-17 year olds in Waltham Forest by ethnic group are as follows:
- White British/Irish (26%)
- Asian/Asian British (25%)
- Black/Black British (22%)
- Mixed/Multiple ethnic group (12%)
- White Other (11%)
- Other ethnic groups (5%).
The proportion of children and young people with English as an additional language IN Waltham Forest:
- In primary schools is 54.0% (the national average is 20.1%)
- In secondary schools is 46.6% (the national average is 15.7%).
The proportion of non-resident pupils attending Waltham Forest Special Schools is 20.1% (the national average is 8.3%).
Child protection in the borough:
- At 31st March 2016, 2,242 children had been identified through assessment as being formally in need of a specialist children’s service. This is a decrease from 3,076 at 31 March 2015 but the reduction is partly due to in year data cleansing. The number of children in need at any point during 2015/16 was 5,207, compared with 5,243 in 2014/15.
- At 31st March 2016, 249 children and young people were the subject of a child protection plan. This is an increase from 234 at 31 March 2015.
- At 31st March 2016, seven children were living in private fostering arrangements, the same figure as at 31 March 2015 (not the same seven children, there was movement within the cohort).
Looked After Children
- At 31st March 2016, 275 children were being looked after by the local authority (a rate of 43 per 10,000 children), which is the same rate as at 31st March 2015.
- Of this number: 185 (or 67%) were living outside the local authority area.
- 75% were living in fostering placements; 8% were in semi-independent living accommodation; 10% were living in residential homes; and 4% were placed for adoption. The remaining 3% were in residential schools; placed with parents; in secure units or accommodated in NHS / Health trusts.
- 40 (15%) of the looked after children cohort were unaccompanied asylum seeking children.
In the year ending 31st March 2016, 180 children ceased to be looked after, of whom:
- 10 were adopted
- 20 became subject of special guardianship orders
- 55 returned home to live with parents or relatives (91% of which were as part of the care planning process)
Other reasons for leaving care include turning 18, accommodation on remand ending, and leaving care to live with parents, relatives or other persons with no parental responsibility.
Partners of the Board - change and its impact
In last year's report I wrote about the changes which meant that London Probation Service had become two organisations - the National Probation Service and the Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC), and recognised that it would take time for us to find ways to work together. During 2015-2016, the CRC has found it impossible to attend safeguarding Boards, an issue which has been picked up nationally. It is not yet possible to be sure of what effect this has had on partnership working around the board in Waltham Forest, but CRC colleagues do attend SafetyNet (our Community Safety Partnership) board meetings, which provides an alternative forum for discussions about child safeguarding and offenders, which arguably can happen as appropriately there as at the LSCB, but this will need to be monitored for a longer period.
I wrote last year that the 2015-2016 annual report would follow through the issue of the strength of the children's voluntary sector in Waltham Forest. This was because its fragility meant that there was no network for the sector's representative on the Board to report back to. In March 2016, the Board heard that a new grouping of voluntary sector organisations - Waltham Forest United - might be able to work with the Board. However it was not in a position to do so. At the time of writing, arrangements to support the voluntary sector in Waltham Forest are being recommissioned.
Safeguarding in Health
In November 2015 our local NHS Commissioners, Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), were inspected as were all CCGs in London as part of a "Deep Dive" to assess the effectiveness of their safeguarding support and assurance for the local health economy. The CCG was very positively evaluated by NHS England and all the London safeguarding boards were given a Red, Amber or Green rating based not just on the performance of the CCG and other commissioning and assurance risks. Our CCG and board were assessed as Green, which fits with my perception of the support the board receives from Waltham Forest CCG.
At the September 2015 board meeting, I wanted to use the opportunity to focus on health provider organisations and there was a discussion led by our two provider partners, North East London Foundation Trust and Barts Health on the question of - How do large complex health organisations manage the complexity of safeguarding?
The local hospital, Whipps Cross (part of Barts Health Trust) was put into special measures at the start of 2015-2016. Adult safeguarding was the cause of greater concern to the NHS regulators, but a piece of work that this Board first requested from Barts Health Trust two years ago - on paediatric pathways, did get under way during 2015-2016 and was reported to the board in September 2016. Meanwhile in October 2015 Barts Health Trust held a safeguarding summit, where useful reports about the strengths and weaknesses of safeguarding arrangements as they were at the time, were presented, along with best practice models in other Trusts that could be adopted by the Trust. The strategy that came out of that event is yet to be signed off by the safeguarding boards of North East London, and this remains a concern. The Named Nurse from Whipps Cross has been an active member of the Board's subgroups but the attendance by a suitably senior trust manager at the Board itself fell off after a senior manager who had been the regular representative from the organisation left. This issue is now resolved but that resolution did not come before the end of the year this report covers, and was noted at the March 2016 Board meeting.
Named General Practitioner (GP) - a welcome new link - in last year's annual report I commented on the retirement of the local general practitioner who additionally held the role of Named GP - a very specifically defined role in relation to child safeguarding and who had been an active member of the board. The vacancy remained until the autumn of 2015 when a new Named GP was recruited by the Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group. The addition of Dr Sabrina Pherungee to the Board is a valuable opportunity to engage local GPs with the work of the board and to understand their issues and standards in relation to child safeguarding.
Sharing the load of the Board
Also in the report is commentary on how we have tried to make our Board more effective by sharing the workload and sharing the learning. This is in recognition that we sometimes rely heavily on the same Board members to do a high proportion of our work. During the year, I have worked with the Business Manager and our executive group on this issue. I think it is fair to say the picture is mixed but is improving. For example, in August 2015 it was really good to have a learning event led and written up by NHS and Local Authority Early Help colleagues. During the year, plans have been put in place for the leadership of work streams and sub groups, and also new colleagues have come into posts in the borough, filling vacancies which have sometimes hindered the fair spread of work - now those taking on these roles feels to be better spread across the local authority, the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group and the Borough Command of the Metropolitan Police.
A timeline for our year
June 2015 - board meeting. SCR on "Joe" is presented and signed off by the board
September 2015 - board meeting. SCR on '"Child S" is presented and signed off by the board; discussion between the Safeguarding Adults and Children's boards about closer working at end of board meeting
October 2015 Board launches first improving Practice podcasts
30th November 2015 Think Family conference
December 2015 Board meets in joint workshop session to look at joint working with the Safeguarding Adults Board
2nd March 2016 - priority setting day for the board's 2016- 2017 work plan
March 2016 Strategic Partnerships Unit set up to coordinate response to the largest and most complex issues that affect families in Waltham Forest such as domestic violence and neglect
March 2016 Care Quality Commission inspect North East London Foundation Trust
March 2016 Board meeting.
Section 2: The Board's priorities for the year and our impact
Priorities for 2015 - 2016
Practitioners know when and how to respond to Children in Need
The board is satisfied that the understanding, recognition and response of all practitioners leads to all children in need getting the right support at the right time and is in line with recognised good practice. This outcome will link with the findings from the SCR about 'Joe' and the Havering SCR where Waltham Forest was involved historically
Waltham Forest's "Think Family" approach is embedded
The board holds all partners across adult and children services to account to ensure that families with additional needs and those in need of statutory intervention (e.g. toxic trio of domestic abuse, parental mental health and parental substance use) receive support from agencies that takes into account all members individual needs and their interconnection with other members, taking a "Think Family" approach.
The board is assured that adults and children who are at risk of harmful practices (early/forced marriage, faith based abuse, honour based violence, female genital mutilation) receive early intervention from practitioners who are knowledgeable of the issues. Communities most affected are actively engaged and influence the approach to these issues. Understanding of front line practitioners of all aspects of harmful practice is good.