Keeping Devon’s children safe – July 2016 update

Key management messages

Dear colleague,

“Financially sustainable services are built upon good practice achieving good outcomes for children and families.  Weak services are costly for the Council and more importantly they are costly for children and families. That is why I and the rest of the Council are very firmly committed to the improvement journey in Children’s Services”.

In 2016 / 17, the Council increased the budget for Children’s Social Work and Child Protection by nearly £11.4 million and we all have to pull together.

Thanks to excellent partnership working across HR, Finance and Children’s Services, we have stopped overspending on staffing. ASYE programmes continues to ensure excellent value for money.

Progress continues to tackle child sexual exploitation

While we have a good deal of work to do across the portfolio, we’re delighted that notable progress continues to be made in our work to tackle child sexual exploitation, (CSE).  Reports to our People Scrutiny Committee just last week updated Members on that progress.

Councillors heard that Devon’s multi-agency approach to tackling CSE is working well, with every agency engaged and committed to identifying potentially at risk young people, reducing that risk through prevention, and protecting young people through appropriate interventions.

Our thanks go to our Devon Youth Service for the valuable research that they’ve helped with, which is aiding our knowledge of young people’s understanding of CSE.

Other research has identified that children from seldom-heard groups are more likely to be abused or exploited, which we’re addressing in Devon by focusing targeted prevention activity on specific groups of young people, including children with disabilities, LGBT, migrant workers and others.

In a separate report presented jointly with the police, Councillors also heard some of the many improvements that we have made within social care in relation to bespoke training, the strengthening of assessments of relatives as part of special Guardianship applications, and in focusing ourselves on understanding the voice of the child and their experience.

We, alongside our partners, remain committed to continuing to improve our safeguarding services, and towards our aim for our services to be judged as good.

Kind regards, Jennie and James


Jo Olsson

Jo Olsson’s update on core values, our improvement plan, and budget challenges

There’s been great progress on steadily reducing caseloads – a huge well done to frontline staff and team managers.

We’ve been working on a statement of our core values and these will be coming out to you after the next service development meeting. I want every team to have a discussion in a team meeting about what these principles mean and how practice can be shaped, to ensure we are living out the values in our work. Find out more from Jo.

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) briefing

In Devon, we have been implementing the SEND reforms and have recently refreshed the way in which we monitor our performance against SEND Code of Practice 2014. We ensure that we improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND and their families.

This is monitored and overseen by the SEND Improvement Board, which is a sub-group of the Children, Young People and Families Alliance. This partnership approach aims to improve the engagement of all agencies and ensure we work in collaborative way to identify and meet the needs of children in Devon. Find out about the key priorities for the local area.

Are you looking after someone else’s child? Is your child living with another family?

If the answer to either question is yes, and the arrangement is for 28 days or more, this is known as private fostering.

If a child or young person under 16 years old (or 18 if they have a disability) is looked after by someone who is not a close relative, then by law Devon County Council needs to be informed. A close relative includes parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles NOT cousins, great aunt/uncles or friends.

Private Fostering


BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend

As a corporate parent, Phil Norrey, our Chief Executive, chose winners for two pairs of tickets for BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend. Tickets were drawn at random from a list of our care leavers and children in care. Our lucky young winners told us:

“The big weekend was absolutely amazing! I didn’t think it was going to be anything like it was, and would definitely go again! I wouldn’t of had the chance had I not been given those tickets!”

Care leavers at Radio 1's Big Weekend
Devon’s care leavers at Radio 1’s Big Weekend

July 2016

Important updates

Section 20 practice guidance

Social work staff will be aware of the national debate regarding the use of Section 20 as a means of accommodating children. In Devon, we have undertaken a review of all cases where children have been accommodated under Section 20.

New social work evidence templates

A review of the Social Work Evidence Templates (SWET) and supporting documents has recently been undertaken, this exercise demonstrated a high level of support for its use and generated a number of suggestions about further improvements.

In Devon, we are adopting the template from 1 July 2016.

Please refer to the templates and guidance, these will also be available on FDocs (as Word templates) shortly.

The Independent Reviewing Unit (IRU) is changing the way it is organised

The IRU is moving from a functional split between Child Protection and Children in Care, to an area-based model aligned with the four Children’s Social Work areas of North, Mid & East, Exeter, and South. Find out how the area-based model affects you…


Information Disposal Hold

A reminder that standard retention periods and disposal procedures for all children’s social work and child protection records are suspended until further notice at the request of the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse – IICSA.

It is not yet known when work on the Inquiry with Devon County Council will commence or how long it will take when it does. For record retention and disposal enquiries generally – please contact the Information Governance team.

Social Worker of the Year awards

Have you nominated yet? Social Worker of the Year Awards

Who do you want to nominate for the Social Worker of the Year awards?

Entries are now open and nomination forms are on the website and will close on Friday 22 July.

More information online:

Resources and Publications


Training Courses from the Devon Safeguarding Children Board

See the training courses:

  • Group 3 core
  • Group 3 refresher
  • Group 4 refresher
  • Group 6

and the latest newsletter.

If you know anyone who would like to be added to the mailing list please ask them to register on the DSCB website.

Community Survey #WeAreDevon

Taking the temperature of life in Devon

We’ve launched a new survey of people across Devon  to see how good the county is as a place to live, work, raise a family and grow old. Make sure you and anyone living in Devon takes part!

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