Warrington children’s services is providing child-centred, focused support to families who are experiencing difficulties, Ofsted has said.
Children in need of help and protection receive a service that is mostly timely, proportionate and keeps them safe, said a focused report by Ofsted.
“Children at risk of family breakdown and on the edge of care receive a broad range of multi-agency interventions to help build resilience and improve outcomes,” said the report.
The focus of work with children who are stepped down from a child protection plan to a child in need plan is not always evident in the child’s record. The rationale for decision-making against progress made is sometimes unclear or overly reliant on parents self-reporting.
In some cases, this leads to uncertainty about outstanding work to keep children safe. As a result, inspectors said that further work is required to ensure that the quality of assessments and plans for children is consistently good.
The report noted that:
- The threshold for intervention for children in need and those subject to a child protection plan is mostly applied at the right level.
- Social workers take time to understand children’s daily lived experiences and they mostly record their observations effectively.
- Children experiencing neglect, sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse receive a wide range of targeted support to identify need and ensure that they are helped and protected.
- There is evidence of effective partnership working in child protection conferences, core groups and child in need meetings.
- There has been a reduction in the number of social work vacancies and reliance on agency staff through implementation of a revised recruitment and retention strategy.
- Caseloads are manageable and this enables social workers to respond to children’s needs through regular visits and direct work.
- Supervision sessions with social workers are regular, task focused and sometimes include reflections on practice.
There are no priority actions following this focused visit but inspectors said that children are sometimes stepped down from a child protection plan too soon and before all outstanding tasks are completed.
Assessments vary in quality and the quality of plans are variable. While some are of a high standard, some are very basic, too general in tone and lack clarity or detail in relation to actions, timescales and contingency arrangements.
A recently revised auditing framework has been implemented and audits are mostly accurate and highlight relevant issues in relation to social work practice. However, not all audits have clear action plans in place to ensure that remedial actions are addressed within a reasonable timescale for children, the report concluded.