Child protection plans are ending too soon in Birmingham children’s services, Ofsted has warned.
While the local authority is making continued progress in improving children’s services, significant concerns remain in relation to child protection plans ending too early and leaving children at potential risk of harm.
“Since the last inspection, there has been no improvement in the number of child protection plans ending too early. The number of children subject to a second child protection plan has risen. More work needs to be done to ensure that plans end only when risk has clearly been reduced and when improvement can be sustained,” said Ofsted.
The third monitoring visit since the local authority was judged inadequate in November 2016 focused on progress made in the area of children subject to current child protection plans.
The report highlighted how:
- The progress made since the last inspection has been maintained.
- Caseloads for social workers have been reduced, and this reduction has been sustained.
- The reliance on agency staff has also been reduced
- There has been better stability of relationships between social workers and families.
- Children subject to child protection plans are being seen regularly.
However, progress in plans for these children is not consistent and is hampered at times by a lack of participation by partners in key processes such as review conferences and core groups. Too many examples were seen of child protection review conferences and some core groups that key professionals from other agencies, including school nurses and workers from drug and alcohol services, although invited, had not attended. As a result, cross-agency understanding of and responsibility for child protection are not as well developed as they should be.
Child protection plans are outcome focused and reviewed regularly. Areas of risk are clearly identified and the majority of plans have clear action points, designed to focus the work and make progress in reducing risk. However, in an attempt to achieve greater simplicity, some plans have failed to identify clearly significant areas of further work, and this has reduced their effectiveness in ensuring timely progress.
Regular management oversight is evident in the cases seen by inspectors and is helping to ensure some progress in the majority of cases.
In the majority of cases seen, the PLO process was timely, and progress has been made and, as a result, outcomes for children are being improved.
“The authority has demonstrated that it has made some continued improvements in the quality of social work practice since the last inspection. Further work remains to be done to ensure that practice is consistently good and that the best outcomes for all children are achieved on a timely and consistent basis,” the report concluded.