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Updates on child protection services in Bridgend

Bridgend County Borough Council civic offices (Pic: LDRS)

BRIDGEND Council has been given an update on improvements that have been made to local child protection services.

The update came after a joint report was carried out by Care Inspectorate Wales in June 2023, reviewing the performance of child protection arrangements across Bridgend, when it came to tackling the abuse and neglect of children.

The joint inspection, which also included bodies such as Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, Estyn, and His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and fire and rescue services, was carried out to highlight concerns with services run by the local authority and its partners at Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, and South Wales Police.

Its findings showed a number of issues, in particular with the recruitment and retention of staff, which was said to be “fragile”, as well as other areas which were described as “inconsistent” with further action required.

These included issues with sharing information between agencies in the multi-agency safeguarding hub, gaps in recording and supervision, and issues with the quality of care and support protection plans, which were “too variable”.

It led to a number of actions being taken, that as of October 2023 were said to be completed or under way. These  included the recruitment of an additional six education welfare officers, the implementation of training courses for staff, and the introduction of a new information-sharing system within the service.

Officers described how there had been a “significant” set of inspection activities earlier in the year that outlined both the areas that needed improvement, as well as those where positive practice was taking place.

They added that the implementation of a joint action action plan produced in response to the report had undergone detailed scrutiny, and had resulted in improvements, most notably in the form of a new information sharing system.

Cllr Jon Blundell said: “I look forward to seeing regular updates, and just to praise the work of both social services and education and everyone else in this council because safeguarding is not the sole responsibility of one cabinet member, one councillor or one directorate, it is the sole responsibility of us all.”

Council leader Huw David was also at the meeting and said he was pleased to see there was an action plan in place, adding it was important to reflect on the positive work that had been done.

He said: “We certainly appreciate the work of staff who are dealing with unprecedented levels of case work and unprecedented levels of cases.”

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