Referrals rise undermines Swansea improvements

Troubled Swansea Council has improved, but not enough to convince the Welsh government to remove the intervention board set in place last April.

Deputy minister for social services Gwenda Thomas announced yesterday that the report from the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) showed there had also been significant increases in workload in recent months. The number of looked-after children had risen by 38% and there had been an 110% increase in children on the child protection register.

This presented further challenges to deliver and sustain service improvement. CCSIW concluded that Swansea “remains uncertainly placed to deliver and sustain service improvement”, Thomas told the Welsh assembly.

“It is in the interests of children in Swansea that the order I made remains in force and that the intervention board continues,” she said. The deputy minister added that she had also asked the inspectorate to provide another progress report in July.

The CSSIW report praised Swansea for having better leadership and a committed workforce who were undertaking “excellent direct work with children and families” but said experienced staff needed further, specialised training. More staff needed to be recruited to combat the 21% vacancy rate and a full-time child protection co-ordinator was needed. Thresholds for care ought to be reviewed and modernised in light of increasing referrals and the number of unallocated cases had to be reduced.

Swansea has already announced it will recruit 35 extra social workers to try to reduce caseloads for frontline staff. Paxton Hood-Williams, vice-chair of the council’s child and family overview and scrutiny board, said: “It is clear that the department has made significant progress in the past 12 months. This is of real credit to all the staff in the department.”

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