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East Riding boosts initial response to children further

Senior managers at East Riding of Yorkshire has further developed the service’s initial response to children, Ofsted has said.

A focused visit of the authority's which looked at the local authority’s arrangements for the ‘front door’, the Early Help and Safeguarding Hub (EHaSH)and the quality of assessments and interventions for children in need of help and protection found the authority had furthered developed services since December 2016, when the local authority was judged good overall.

"Recent developments include: increasing social work capacity in the EHaSH; establishing early help panels; holding threshold meetings with key partners, and integrating the out of hours service with the front door," said the report. "These developments are promoting an effective multi-agency response to children at the earliest opportunity and are a service strength."

Inspectors also highlighted:

- The model of social work practice in East Riding is well embedded across agencies and is effective in promoting a shared language and understanding of the concerns for a child.

- Contacts and referrals are responded to without delay.

- Decision-making about thresholds at the front door is timely, consistently applied and appropriate.

- When children are at risk of immediate harm, there is a timely, multi-agency response to protect them.

- Interventions are based on a whole-family approach, and inspectors saw evidence of proactive social work and early help support from a range of agencies.

- Social workers receive reflective case supervision and this supports appropriate and timely interventions.

- Children and families receive an integrated early help service. Where appropriate, EHaSH refers children and families to an early help panel.

The report warns that records of strategy meetings are too brief and case file recording does not consistently demonstrate the richness of work that takes place with children and families.

It also says that when social workers are busy, customer service agents will take contact information on their behalf to pass on for social workers to triage. Senior managers are taking steps to address the delay that this causes on occasion. More social workers are being allocated to this task.

In order to improve social work practice, East Riding should improve the quality of children in need assessments to include better use of chronologies and an evaluation of the impact of life events on children.

Case recording of social work engagement with children and families should include managers’ decisionsand rationale.

The evaluation of all information available from quality assurance processes should inform service developments, including any recommendations for improving social work practice arising out of case file audits.

Finally, the consideration of information from other agencies, including health professionals, should be included within strategy discussions. In addition, case recording of strategy discussions to better identify information shared, defined risks, rationale for decision-making and timescales.

"Managers at all levels have a tight grip on frontline practice. They have a comprehensive understanding of the ‘social work experience’ from a staff, family and child perspective. A recent ‘practice week’, where senior managers observed practice and sought the views of children and families, is further enhancing knowledge and understanding of how service improvements are embedding," said the report.

"All staff seen spoke positively about working for East Riding. Good levels of training are supporting their developments and equipping them well to work effectively with children and families," the report concluded.

Focused visit to East Riding of Yorkshire council children’s services

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