As we touched upon in a previous post, Harrow’s Early Intervention Service – a key part of Children’s Services – is currently going through what the council has called a ‘redesign’ which will result in the loss of nearly 30 jobs, and a ‘saving’ of £682,000 (almost 30%) in it’s budget. So, with around half the jobs in the department being slashed, and a third of the cash flow drying up (presumably to fund payrises for others in Lockwood’s management team?) was the review done fairly, properly and transparently? Not according to some.
A raft of documents shared on condition of anonymity with iharrow seem to show a somewhat skewed review of the project teams work. To quote just a few paragraphs from a document collating the response from staff on the consultation:
- The audit carried out of just 15 EIS (Early Intervention Service) cases highlights only negative, bad practice and concludes that there are no demonstrable outcomes for families. This is a drastically different conclusion to the full detailed analysis on all EIS cases carried out and presented by the Service Manager in October 2015 which concluded that 81.6% of children and young people demonstrating improved outcomes in at least 4 categories identified through the Children’s Journey Tool (In last quarter – excellent outcomes).
- EIS Management acknowledge that the new structure will leave a significant cohort of vulnerable families that currently engage with EIS practitioners without any support, yet this was not highlighted. Management have stated that this “gap” in services will need to be met outside of the new EIS structure…It is not a saving to decide not to deliver this support when another arm of Children’s Service will have to deliver it under a new guise.
- There has been a clear lack of consultation with partners. Given the significant impact on CIN (Children in Need) and their current work with EIS, their staff group have not been involved in helping to shape the redesign. The 2014 consultation did not ask families for their views on EIS.
- The new proposal states that certain services will continue (e.g. parenting programmes, mentoring) but there is no resource in the new structure to deliver these.
- The EQIA assessment is flawed as it failed to identify that 8 of the 12 posts proposed for deletion are from BAME group and consequently no mitigation has been put in place to minimise the adverse impact of this cohort of staff.
- The proposed new structure again directly favours Children Centre managers… Hilary O’Byrne, for example, is one of the designers of the new look EIS. Her daughter is reportedly a Children’s Centre Manager.
But if that’s not bad enough, it’s the blinkered response from the Leader of the Council, Cllr Sachin Shah. When this proposal was discussed, and rubber-stamped at cabinet, what was Shah’s response to the looming disaster? This:
Original tweet here, until it suddenly disappears.
We asked young Sachin how axing half the staff, offloading work to other over-worked teams, spreading the remaining staff to the four corners of the borough and slashing their budget by a third would “help disadvantaged families.” No response.