A bespoke model of social work practice to better support children in need of help and protection has been introduced at South Tyneside, Ofsted has said.
At the last Ofsted inspection of children’s services in November 2017, the local authority was judged to be good overall. The continual improvement of performance and quality assurance systems means that senior managers and leaders know their service well, and this enables them to target resources appropriately.
"Learning from the previous inspection is enhancing social work practice. For example, there are improvements in relation to the response to children missing from home and care, which was previously an area of weakness. Improved management oversight and a strengthened focus on the voice of children is leading to more responsive interventions and planning," said the report.
Inspectors looked at the local authority’s arrangements for children in need, those subject to a child protection plan, and the response to children who go missing.
The report highlighted:
- Senior managers and leaders understand well the needs of their community, recognising the challenges of tackling entrenched neglect within families, as well as the need to stop the cycle of repeated interventions over time.
- Children in need of help and protection benefit from timely assessments. However, those assessments seen were not always of consistently high quality.
- Child in need and child protection plans vary in quality. Some good-quality plans were seen. However, some are too adult focused and too many are not time bound in order to support identification of priority actions or to effectively measure change over time.
The comparatively high prevalence of domestic abuse in South Tyneside is well understood.
- Children and families benefit from a dedicated and skilled team of family support workers, who provide bespoke interventions for children in need or those who are subject of child protection plans.
- Children receive a timely and proportionate social work response to manage risk and meet their needs.
- The successful Families First service works effectively with children on the edge of care in order to prevent children from becoming looked after.
- Senior managers continue to ensure that social workers are well trained and supported.
- Senior managers and leaders have a good understanding of frontline practice through strengthened performance and quality assurance.
In order to improve practice, South Tyneside should improve the quality of social work assessments and plans to ensure they are all of a consistently high quality, Ofsted said.
The quality of return home interviews should improve as well as the use of intelligence to inform planning for children. The provision and accessibility of therapeutic and mental health services needs work to meet children’s needs.