Services for children and young people in Moray need to make important improvements, inspectors have said.

It follows an inspection which identified key weaknesses in the way services were being delivered by the Moray Community Planning Partnership.

The inspection, which was led by the Care Inspectorate with Education Scotland, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland, took place between 22 August 2016 and 7 October 2016.

Inspectors looked at how well a wide range of services were working together to make a positive difference to the lives of children, young people and their families.

Inspectors met staff, senior managers and leaders from the different partner agencies in Moray, as well as children, young people and their parents and carers. The inspection also involved visiting a number of children’s services and reviewing a sample of vulnerable children’s records. A specially-trained young inspection volunteer with personal experience of care met young people to hear about what matters to them.

Across nine key indicators of performance, inspectors rated five as ‘adequate’ and four as ‘weak’. Chief officers in Moray have taken immediate action to address weaknesses and need to make significant further improvements.

Inspectors found that some children and young people were benefiting from the help and support provided by staff. But they also noted that the main areas of weakness were in relation to collaborative leadership, strategic planning and in some cases, how services worked together to ensure children were safe.

Inspectors found that while children at immediate risk of significant harm were being protected, those experiencing neglectful parenting were exposed to risk for too long before decisive action was taken.

Karen Reid, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate said: “Children and young people across Scotland deserve the best possible support at every stage of their lives.

“This inspection has identified important areas which need to improve and we expect to see changes put in place quickly.

“Leaders were not directing change effectively or sufficiently holding themselves or others to account where progress was slow.  Collaborative approaches to jointly improve outcomes for children and young people were not well developed, and we also noted there was an urgent need to strengthen challenge and scrutiny to make the necessary changes. 

“Chief officers have taken immediate action to address areas of weakness and the Care Inspectorate will work with partners in Moray to support improvements. The partnership will require considerable on-going support and challenge to address these findings."

Recommendations included improving standards of operational practice by setting clear expectations for staff and strengthening approaches to quality assurance and staff supervision.

The partnership should also improve the initial risk assessment of, and response to, vulnerable children and young people at risk of neglectful parenting or cumulative harm.

Inspectors also recommended that they should strengthen collective vision and collaborative leadership to direct the delivery of integrated children’s services.  Leaders should ensure that their plans are informed by a thorough assessment of the needs of children and young people living in Moray and robust performance information. The partnership should strengthen the governance, leadership and accountability of the child protection committee. It should implement a framework for  joint self-evaluation, so that leaders can assure themselves that their actions are leading to better outcomes for children and young people, including those in need of protection.

There is also a need to strengthen the approach to corporate parenting, participation and children’s rights.

Inspectors will return to Moray to undertake an initial review of progress.

The report of the joint inspection is available here: