The London Borough of Bromley is making good progress in improving early intervention help and support for children and families in the borough, Ofsted has said.
In its sixth monitoring visit since the borough’s children’s services was rated as inadequate in June 2016, Ofsted inspector found the provision of early intervention services in Bromley is an area of strength.
“The local authority has prioritised and improved the range and quality of family support. This is effective and well established,” said the report.
Inspectors said that within the cases considered, children and families receive good early intervention, help and support. Their requests for help are quickly and effectively responded to and they are able to access a wide range of high-quality local services that are preventing the need for statutory services. This is a proportionate response to risk and is improving children’s circumstances.
The visit found:
- Integrated multi-agency early intervention services, based in localities around children’s centres, offer parents a wide range of accessible services.
- Family support and parenting practitioners also offer a range of workshops and one-to-one support in relation to the impact of domestic violence, parenting styles, housing issues, employment and access to education.
- Children’s centres staff work effectively with social workers and parents where children are the subject of child protection or child in need plans.
- Children’s centre workers demonstrate an appropriate understanding and response to risk.
- Timely and effective communication with children’s social workers takes place should risks escalate.
- The Bromley children’s project links to the children’s centres and works with private, voluntary and independent early years providers in the borough. The project is well resourced to offer both universal and targeted support from 25 skilled family support and parenting practitioners.
- The revision and re-launch of Bromley’s ‘threshold of need’ document in June has ensured that partner agencies make appropriate referrals into the service.
- Effective early support to families is reducing the need for a number of children to receive statutory interventions. This is reflected in the reduction of children subject to repeat child in need or child protection plans.
- Senior management oversight of the quality of practice in the early intervention and family support service is good.
- Practitioners receive regular supervision, guidance and training.
“While regular audit of practice gives managers an overview of the quality of early intervention practice for families, the audit tool is insufficiently focused on the experiences of children. This misses an opportunity to identify and improve the positive outcomes of this help on their individual needs and circumstances, said the report.
“The local authority, aware of this practice deficit, is taking actions to improve performance in this area,” it concluded.