Senior managers and political leaders at Ealing children's services have continued to transform services since the single inspection in 2016, when services were judged to be good, Ofsted has said.
Each child in care in Ealing is surrounded by a team of professionals who work together closely to provide exceptional care and support, a focused visit to the London Borough found.
"There is a tangible determination from those who are involved with children in care to provide a nurturing environment that meets children’s and carers’ emotional needs," said the report. "Staff say that: they feel valued by their leaders and managers; caseloads are manageable; and the retention of social workers, particularly in the connect teams, is improving."
The focused visit looked at the quality of care planning for children in care, and the timeliness of permanence arrangements for children who are unable to live with their birth parents.
Specific dedicated teams provide excellent help and support to care leavers and to children who are at risk of coming into care and to those who return home to live with their families. Rigorous performance management and quality assurance means that managers at all levels are very knowledgeable about their service and the areas that need to improve.
- Foster carers are offered an 18-week training programme, ‘nurturing attachments’, that helps them to understand the impact of developmental trauma on the children that they care for.
- Weekly group supervision is a crucial part of the practice model.
- The local authority is committed to securing permanent homes for children if they are unable to live safely with their birth parents, including those for whom it is considered to be harder to find adoptive parents.
- Arrangements to track children through legal and permanence planning panels are well embedded and are mostly effective in preventing delay.
- Bespoke, targeted work, undertaken by dedicated teams, is making a real difference to vulnerable adolescents.
- Staff understand the many and varied needs of unaccompanied minors.
- Permanence planning for children with disabilities or with complex needs is good.
In order to improve social work practice, Ealing should look at the consistency and timeliness of parallel plans for all children who cannot live with their birth parents and the quality and consistency of kinship assessments.
The recording of managers’ decisions following legal and permanence planning panels also needs work.
Diane Wills is Consultant Social Worker at WillisPalmer, responsible for quality assuring the forensic risk assessment reports.
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