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Kensington and Chelsea 'front door' arrangements praised

There has been a continued commitment to sustain and improve the quality of social work practice at the ‘front door’ of Kensington and Chelsea children's services, said Ofsted.

Inspectors found an effective ‘front door’ service within the locality teams which take referrals (initial contacts) and within the MASH.

"Highly experienced senior leaders and managers provide staff with a clear vision and focus to ensure that children and families receive good-quality services," said the report. "Senior leaders know their services well."

Inspectors considered the local authority’s arrangements for children who need help and protection.

They found that cases are progressed in a timely manner, with thresholds well understood and applied effectively, the report said. Decision-making is appropriate and child protection concerns are dealt with swiftly in order to safeguard children. Well-engaged partners based in the MASH provide detailed information to assist decision-making.

The locality social work model is a strength, as children and families receive consistent social work support for as long as required.

Children’s services staff are trained as systemic practitioners. Specialist workers and family therapists based in all teams, have manageable caseloads and a focus on practice development all contribute to a service which delivers purposeful work to children and families.

They highlighted:

- When referrals are the subject of MASH enquiries, most information sharing is prompt and of good quality, leading to effective risk analysis and appropriate decision-making.

- Social workers know their children and families well.

- Written assessments show detailed and clear recording, with strengths, risks and ‘grey areas’ well set out.

- Early help thresholds are well understood and applied.

- Senior managers gather and use performance information well.

However, Ofsted noted recording of section 47 investigations is variable. Some investigations that are recorded as part of a child protection conference report are thorough, with a clear recommendation and manager’s authorisation. Other investigations are recorded as a ist of enquiries made, and it is difficult to see any analysis, recommendation or manager’s view. Ofsted recommends this area of practice is improved.

Furthermore, strategy discussions do not fully involve all relevant partners and the report said this should also be improved.

Finally, the clarity of action plans for children in need and following child protection conferences needs focus, with particular regard to each agency’s accountability and timescales.

"Staff morale in Kensington and Chelsea is high," said the report. "The workforce is stable, and staff enjoy the variety of in-depth work that they can carry out with families. Staff report a good level of supervision and support. Senior managers are visible and accessible and use feedback from social workers to develop services."

"Staff value the emphasis placed on their training and development. For staff who do not want to become managers, this provides another avenue for staff progression and is a valuable retention strategy," the report concluded.

Kensington and Chelsea focused visit

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