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Children’s Services Omnibus Survey

Mother with pushchair
Published: August 2017

Senior leaders in local authorities answer questions on children's services.

Aim

This new Children’s Services Omnibus Survey provides clear and up-to-date understanding of the key issues facing children’s services, and of local authorities’ implementation of policy related to children’s services.

The Omnibus is commissioned by the Department for Education

Publication

Results from the first round of the Omnibus were published in August 2017. You can download the report here from the Department for Education's website.

Key findings 

Children’s social care

  • Most LAs, 84%, had a function or team that was able to analyse demand for children’s social care.
  • A majority of LAs, 71%, had a function or team that was able to identify unmet needs for individual children and families.
  • Three in five LAs had a function or team to compare the cost of different interventions, 61%, and assess the impact of different interventions, 61%.

Information sharing 

  • A large majority of LAs, 91%, had multi-agency processes for dealing with child welfare referrals in place, or in development, 7%.

Social care workforce

  • Most LAs, 90%, were confident that supervisors, senior practitioners and practice managers had the knowledge and skills to support social workers and that they would be able to maintain the usual number of practice placements offered to social work students over the next 12 months, 89%.
  • Just over half of LAs, 56%, were confident that they would have sufficient numbers of permanent well-qualified child and family social workers to meet their needs over the next year.

Risks to service delivery

  • LAs were asked to select up to three main risks to the effective delivery of children’s social care services over the next 3 years from a list of six options:
    • 89% authorities selected financial pressures as a risk
    • 57% of authorities selected recruitment of high quality staff
    • 51% selected retainment of current staff as a risk over the next three years.

Adoption and children in care

  • Almost three in four, 72%, LAs felt their relationship with the local judiciary over care proceedings was good, although 11% felt their relationship was poor.
  • Just over one-third, 34% of LAs said that it was fairly or very likely that there will be sufficient care placements for all children in their authority over the next year.
  • A large majority of LAs provide financial support beyond the Adoption Support Fund, both to adopters, 95%, and to special guardians, 91%.
  • While 93% of authorities provide support groups for adopters, 55% provide support groups for special guardians.

Early Years and childcare

  • Almost three in five, 57%, upper tier LAs in England monitored the sufficiency of the Early Years workforce in their area.  
  • Three in five, 58%, LAs supported Early Years providers in recruiting staff.
  • More than half, 55% of LAs in England had a childcare provider portal in place to help providers to check eligibility for entitlements. A further 19% had a portal in development and 11% plan to in the future.
  • All LAs surveyed assessed the sufficiency of childcare places within the authority. Most LAs updated their assessment on an annual basis, 56%, although one in five, 21%, did this on a more regular, termly basis. Fewer than one in ten LAs updated the assessment less often than once a year.
  • Three in five, 61%, LAs had already assessed the sufficiency of childcare places with regards to the extended 30 hour entitlement for three and four year olds, and a further 34% were in the process of doing so.

Special Educational Needs and Disability

  • All responding LAs offered support for parents with a disabled child in finding childcare. This support included publishing information about childcare options, 91%; Families Information Services, 91%; brokering childcare places with providers, 79% and providing help with transport, 23%.
  • LAs’ key systems for monitoring progress in implementing the 2014 SEND reforms were multi-agency boards, internal staff meetings, stakeholder engagement and internal self-assessment.
  • LAs monitored outcomes for children and young people with SEND at three main levels: individual child / young person, provider and LA.

Methods

The online survey was sent to all 152 upper tier LAs in England.