13 January 2011
The first stage of a 10 month process to independently inspect the services offered to Jersey’s Looked After Children begins on 14 January 2011 when the Social Work Inspection Agency (SWIA) visits the Island to deliver a series of presentations for social work staff and partner agencies.
There are currently around 80 Looked After Children who are cared for by the States of Jersey because their birth parents are unable to take care of them. These children predominately live with foster carers, with other family or friends or in residential children’s homes.
The external inspection will examine the social work and social care services that support Looked After Children and will follow them through other services such as education, health and probation. The inspection, which was commissioned in response to a recommendation of the 2008 Williamson Inquiry into Child Protection Services, will be the first of its kind in Jersey and will set benchmarks against which to measure improvement.
Overseen by the Children’s Policy Group, the inspection process will use a variety of methods to judge how well children and young people’s needs are being met by services, including:
- engaging with children and young people to obtain their views
- surveys and interviews with foster carers and staff
- self-evaluation by service providers
- an examination of records and processesvisits to sites and facilities used by Looked After Children.
Deputy Anne Pryke, Chair of the Children’s Policy Group, said “By the time children come into the care of the States something has already gone wrong in their lives so it is absolutely essential that we do the best for them. We need to ensure that services are of the highest standard and that different agencies work well together and provide seamless support.
“This completely independent inspection will help us do that. It will rigorously examine how we currently operate, highlight good practice, identify areas for improvement and provide us with valuable information.”
SWIA is an independent and impartial external agency set up by the Scottish Government in 2005 to drive up standards and improve quality in social work services. It broadly combines the work Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission in England in relation to social services delivered by local authorities and has carried out several investigations at the direction of Scottish Ministers.
Alexis Jay, Chief Inspector of Social Work and Chief Executive of SWIA, said “Our inspection process places a great deal of emphasis on the evidence we gather from people who use services, from their carers, staff and other key stakeholders. We are completely impartial with an in-depth knowledge and understanding of social work services, including those delivered in smaller Island communities. That means we are uniquely placed to provide informed comment on Jersey’s services for Looked After Children."
“We are starting the process with a series of presentations aimed at staff working in the relevant agencies but, over the coming months, we’ll be looking to make contact with Looked After Children, their carers and people who have previously been cared for to ask their opinion of the services they received.”
An inspection report will be published in November 2011.