The Panel received a report and presentation delivered by the Strategic Manager for Children and Families and the Professional Practice Manager, which provided a summary of the support available for children and young people and their families by the Children with Disabilities Service (for copy of report and presentation see file).
The Panel noted that since the Ofsted inspection in September 2019, there had been significant changes to the service, including additional investment in front line staff, the creation of a 0-18 children’s service and a transition navigation service which works with disabled young people aged between 14–25 to smooth their transition from children’s to adult services.
Officers explained the emphasis on the young person’s voice when describing their everyday experiences. The Panel viewed a short video clip showing how the Mind of My Own Express App works. The app allows young people to create a profile page and to share their thoughts directly with those that care for them.
Officers informed the Panel how the culture of the service aims to promote good relationships with the young people and their families and strives to maintain the same social worker throughout. Feedback tools had been developed and comments from young people include that that their social worker is fun, that they feel reassured by the stability through maintaining the same social worker and they appreciate the opportunities they are given to gain their independence, whilst knowing their social work is there for support. Carers have reported that team members are kind and offer guidance to other avenues of support in instances where a child does not meet the criteria.
Councillor Walton was pleased to see the service is very much led by suggestions for improvements from the young people, their families and carers and asked what challenges this posed. The Strategic Manager explained that one of the main challenges is the development of direct work with young people with communication difficulties, to ensure their true voices, wishes and feelings are heard. She added that there had been a good response to the app, however it is accepted that it is not suitable for all and work was continuing to develop the app.
Councillor Bainbridge asked for information on caseloads. The Strategic Manager explained that caseloads were difficult to quantify as some young people have an allocated family support worker and a review and monitor service is also in operation, however, she offered to provide further information to Councillor Bainbridge after the meeting.
Councillor Coult asked whether the young people are provided with IT facilities to access the app. The Service Manager responded that the Express App is accessed through a social worker’s account and whilst the Mind of My Own One App may be accessed independently by the young person, the young people in the Children and Disabilities Team use the Express App, alongside their workers.
That the report be noted.