Leicester children's services are successfully implementing a new approach to working with children and families based on a recognised model of practice, Ofsted has said.
Leicester children’s services were last inspected by Ofsted in July 2017, when the overall effectiveness of the service was judged to require improvement to be good. Since then, a strong, permanent and well-focused senior leadership team has built on the progress seen at that inspection.
The new model "is helping to improve the quality of social work practice and beginning to have a positive impact on outcomes for children and families. This, as well as a much more stable workforce with manageable caseloads in both the children in need and disabled children’s service, is enabling social workers to spend more time with children, build better relationships with them, and devise plans in consultation with them to improve their lives," said the report.
The quality of assessments and plans produced by social workers, although still variable, is on an upward trajectory, the report added. These assessments and plans are enabling risks to be better identified and reduced and as a result, more children are receiving effective support.
The focused visit looked at the local authority’s arrangements for children in need and those subject to a child protection plan, including children receiving help and support from the disabled children’s service.
- Leaders have now established a stable and well-motivated workforce in Leicester city council’s children in need and disabled children’s services.
- Social workers visit children regularly and work hard to build strong and positive relationships with them.
- Social workers work effectively in partnership with parents, family networks and partner agencies to devise safety plans for children.
- Social workers feel well supported and value the fact that they receive regular supervision from their manager.
- Child protection case conferences, child in need reviews and core groups are held in a timely way, with good attendance by partners.
- The local authority’s recently strengthened quality assurance framework includes a programme of thematic and collaborative audits, data scrutiny, increased feedback from families, and practice observation as part of case audits.
To improve social work practice in this area, Leicester should focus on the consistency in the quality of assessments and plans and the consistency in the quality of direct work with children and in the recording of visits to children.