Plans to transfer West Sussex County Council’s children’s services into an independent trust have reached a new stage.
The council’s cabinet met yesterday (20 October) to discuss a report on the new trust and how the council will work with the Department for Education to continue with work to improve services for children and young people in the county.
According to the report, the proposed trust will become operational from 1 October 2021.
‘The primary aim of the trust is to secure and maintain improved children’s services,’ it states.
‘The direction from the Department for Education for a trust to remain in place will only be reviewed once those improvements can be seen to be sustained. This is likely to take a period of around three to five years.’
It follows the inadequate judgement by Ofsted of West Sussex Children’s Services in May 2019.
The education secretary then appointed John Coughlan CBE as Commissioner to report on the capacity and capability for the county council to deliver improved Children’s Services in West Sussex.
A report published in December 2019 recommended that an alternative delivery model (ADM), in the form of a children’s trust, be set up.
The new trust will be wholly-owned by the county council but operationally independent.
Councillors agreed yesterday to approve the principal provisions for a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department for Education, which will help establish the trust.
They also agreed that the council’s chief executive can sign the Memorandum on behalf of the local authority.
‘Putting our children first is a top priority for the county council so it is imperative that we have the right structure in place that enables us to provide the best services for our children, young people and families,’ said cabinet member for children and young people, Cllr Jacquie Russell.
‘This report sets out the detail we need to consider as we move towards establishing a children’s trust.’
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