A new type of inspection has identified key strengths in the way children and young people in need of care and protection in Argyll and Bute are supported and cared for.
The Care Inspectorate is currently leading joint inspections, which focus on how well services are working together to improve the lives of children and young people, who have experienced or are at risk of abuse and neglect, and those who are, or have been, looked after by the local authority.
Inspectors look at how staff across a range of services collaborate, including social work, health and education staff, police officers, and children’s reporters.
In the first inspection of this kind, in Argyll and Bute, inspectors noted that overall, processes for recognising and responding to children and young people in need of protection were “well established”, though they also noted that risk assessments were not always carried out when necessary.
The wellbeing of children in need of care and protection was improving, with most children and young people enjoying positive and caring relationships with staff and carers.
The report added that children and young people in Argyll and Bute felt respected and listened to.
However, inspectors also noted some areas for improvement.
Access to some specialist services was not consistent, particularly for children, young people and families residing in the more isolated areas of Argyll and Bute.
Care leavers had good support to access education, employment and housing, but more attention needed to be paid to their health and emotional wellbeing.
And although there were pockets of strong performance management, inspectors reported an “inconsistent approach to the use of trend data and a lack of reliable data measures and outcome-based reporting meant that the partnership was unable to demonstrate sustained improvement over time in key areas”.
Peter Macleod, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate, said: “The Care Inspectorate and its scrutiny partners are confident that the partnership in Argyll and Bute has the capacity to continue to improve and to address the points for action highlighted in this report.
“Services working well together, underpinned by a collaborative, learning culture; and staff are united in a common purpose, underpinned by a strong, shared commitment to improving outcomes.”