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Improvements for care leavers at Bath and North East Somerset

There has been some improvements for care leavers at Bath and North East Somerset although progress in some areas has been slow, Ofsted has said.
In a focused visit to the authority where inspectors looked at their arrangements for care leavers, Ofsted said that young people receive practical and emotional support from social workers and personal advisers who know them well. The identification and response to risk has improved and young people are now visited in accordance with their needs. They are very clear about their rights and entitlements, and the local offer results in tangible benefits for them.
"Some improvements are recent and not fully embedded in practice. The application of the risk assessment tool is inconsistent and needs assessments are not always completed or updated. The quality of pathway plans has improved, but they are not always completed in a timely way. The review of pathway plans is not always stringent," said the report.
While senior leaders have invested in improvements to performance data and quality assurance, including the case auditing process, these are very recent and as yet lack the rigour necessary to drive change and deliver a wholly accurate assessment of performance, the report added.
Inspectors highlighted:
- There is a clear corporate and political commitment to improving the service, which is informed by the views and experiences of young people.
- The quality and timeliness of intervention have improved.
- Arrangements to keep in touch with care leavers are successful.
- Young people are supported and encouraged to become independent at a time when they are ready.
- Young people’s physical and emotional health are well catered for by commissioned and community-based resources.
- The vast majority of care leavers live in suitable accommodation.
- Personal advisers are committed to involving young people in the creation of their pathway plans.
- Senior leaders have a strong track record of listening to children and young people.
- Staff morale is high, and staff are proud to work for the local authority.
However, there has been a significant increase in the number of care leavers who are not in education, employment or training. Although broadly in line with performance with the rest of England, this had been an area of strength at the time of the last inspection. Senior leaders have responded to this issue with additional specialist workers, who are starting to have a positive impact through their individual work with young people.
Needs assessments in preparation for young people leaving care are not always completed in a timely way, and they vary in quality.
There has been a steady increase in the number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children in Bath and North east Somerset. In response, a dedicated worker has been employed and has made impressive progress in terms of consolidating the offer to these children.
There is some variability in the frequency and quality of frontline supervision. Recording does not always capture the quality of reflective discussion that is described by workers.
Quality assurance through case auditing is an area for further improvement, the report added.
Ofsted recommends that Bath and North East Somerset improves managers’ use of performance information and quality assurance processes. The updating of assessments of care leavers needs to reflect their current needs. The timeliness and review of pathway plans should be improved so that professionals and young people are clear about what needs to be achieved by when, incorporating responses to risk.
Focused visit to Bath and North East Somerset Council children’s services

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