A joint inspection of services for children and young people in South Lanarkshire has recommended that improvements are made to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and young people.

The report follows a joint inspection led by the Care Inspectorate which was carried out in June and August 2014.

The inspection was carried out by teams of inspectors from the Care Inspectorate, Education Scotland, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland. 

They looked at the range of services provided to children, young people and their families across the area by the South Lanarkshire Community Planning Partnership.

Across nine quality indicators, one was found to be ‘very good,’ four were found to be ‘good’ and four were found to be ‘adequate.’

The report notes: “Inspectors are confident that the lives of many children and young people growing up in South Lanarkshire are improving as a result of the services delivered to them by the Community Planning Partnership.

“All services are supporting the majority of children effectively and providing them with a positive start in life. However, the life chances of some of the most vulnerable children and young people are not improving sufficiently well.

“Partners now need to demonstrate a stronger integrated approach to drive forward practice change which will help to close outcome gaps more successfully. 

“They should pay particular attention to improving support for care leavers. They need to further strengthen their work towards prevention and early intervention, ensuring that priorities are informed by a robust and transparent needs assessment across the whole partnership area.

Key areas requiring improvement included a need to implement a ‘Getting It Right For Every Child’ approach at an “accelerated pace”, focusing on practice change and reducing bureaucracy. 

Inspectors also said South Lanarkshire Community Planning Partnership and Getting it Right for South Lanarkshire’s Children Board should now lead and direct further improvement in the initial response process of child protection concerns, ensuring collective responsibility by police, social work, health and education staff in information sharing, risk assessment and a single record of decision-making.

The bodies must also set standards for joint processes and “ensure that more robust quality assurance” leads to practice of a consistently high quality.

They should also apply the Partnership Improvement Planning approach developed to support the Single Outcome Agreement to integrated children’s services planning; demonstrate improvements in the life chances of looked after children, young people and care leavers through jointly fulfilling responsibilities as corporate parents; and identify priorities for improvement though joint self-evaluation and complete the cycle of action and review to achieve tangible and sustained improvements. 

Key strengths noted by inspectors included that partners were ensuring new born babies get the best possible start in life, including those in need of protection; valuing and promoting the contribution of children and young people as future citizens; staff solving problems together to find creative ways to meet local needs; and the determination of partners to reduce the impact of poverty on the lives of children, young people and families. 

Annette Bruton, the Care Inspectorate’s Chief Executive, said: "Protecting young people and ensuring that the services they and their families access are of the very highest standard is a crucial part of the work we do as Scotland’s care regulator.

"By working with our partners we can ensure we build up an accurate picture of how services are performing.

"We want to answer the key question ‘how well are these services improving the lives of children, young people and their families?’

"Where there is room for improvement we do not hesitate to report on this and expect partnerships take the necessary action so that everyone in Scotland can access services which meet their needs and respect their rights."

The report is available here: http://www.careinspectorate.com/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=1243&Itemid=100181