11 Performance monitoring
Section 11 audit
Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 places duties on a range of organisations and individuals to ensure their functions, and any services that they contract out to others, are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
During the autumn/winter of 2013 a section 11 audit was undertaken by the organisations represented on the board. This type of self-assessment is viewed positively in South Gloucestershire. During July 2014 board meeting time was set aside to provide scrutiny and challenge to partners in respect of their audit and the effectiveness of their safeguarding children arrangements.
Discussions around future section 11 audits have been held with South Gloucestershire’s neighbouring authorities as some partner organisations, who cover more than one LSCB area, would like a joint section 11 audit approach to avoid duplication and aid capacity.
The four formerly Avon authorities and Somerset have collaborated on an approach to section 11 for 2015 which is a series of themed section 11 audits in an attempt to assist partners in a deeper dive of their responsibilities and arrangements around:
- Single agency safeguarding training
- Voice of the child
Multi agency data reporting
The review and development of the quarterly performance report
A multi-agency task and finish group was established to look at the performance report, review the data currently included and whether this was needed and look at any gaps in data and analysis. The aim of the review was to ensure the Board is provided with the tools to monitor the effectiveness of and evaluate the impact of safeguarding practice in South Gloucestershire. At the forefront of thinking was the ‘So What?’ question. The outcome of this group was the production of a greatly revised but far more comprehensive, analytical and outcome focused performance report which has been further improved at each board meeting since. It has enabled the Board to challenge more effectively, earlier identification of significant changes and themes, as well as providing evidence to the Board of some of the good safeguarding activity taking place.
For example, the board has raised a specific challenge with Child Death Overview Panel (CDOP) in respect of the backlog of cases to be heard and the length of time from death to being considered at CDOP. This resulted in discussions at CDOP about increasing the number of cases considered at each meeting, not waiting for the outcome of the inquest before considering the case and not considering cases from Wales which does not follow the same child death processes as England.
Additionally, the board has also included an expectation in the performance report that all agencies report on any single agency safeguarding audit activity and its resultant recommendations. This has not been adhered to, so the chair has written to all agencies reminding them of this expectation.
The data report led to concern being expressed about the decrease in police domestic violence notifications to social care. This is still being explored at the time of writing.
The board also receives quarterly reports from the Quality sub group about the outcome of their most recent thematic audit. These are detailed multi-agency audits and provide the Board with an indication of the quality of front line practice and the opportunity to challenge and seek improvement where required. Action plans are developed by the sub group and compliance with the recommendations has been monitored.