The local authority and partners are working well to improve practice and outcomes for vulnerable adolescents in Bromley, Ofsted has found.
Strong commitment from strategic partners and senior leaders in the council has resulted in strengthened and effective collaboration, Ofsted said following its seventh and final monitoring visit since the local authority was judged inadequate in June 2016.
“The local authority is making significant progress in identifying risks to vulnerable adolescents and improving services to safeguard them,” said the report following the inspection which focused on progress in the area of vulnerable adolescents including the effectiveness of initial and ongoing multi-agency identification and response to risk, relating to those who go missing, or at risk of child sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation or gang affiliation.
The processes in place to identify vulnerable adolescents at risk of child sexual exploitation and those who go missing are well established, said the report with the Bromley safeguarding children board overseeing this work effectively. This has led the development of a wider consideration of risks to include serious youth violence, gang affiliation, and those at risk of criminal exploitation and radicalisation.
Multi-agency practice for young people at risk of child sexual exploitation and those who go missing is effective. Risks are identified, and impact is evident in reducing risk, as seen in a reduction in the numbers of young people who go missing from home or care and school.
The report found:
- Thresholds are appropriately and consistently applied, and emerging risk is quickly recognised and responded to in most cases.
- Social workers and key workers in the Youth Offending Service are tenacious in building rapport with young people even when they are hard to engage.
- Reducing caseloads in line with standards set by the local authority is resulting in greater capacity for high quality direct work.
- Management oversight was evident in all cases seen during this visit and all social workers described supervision as regular and helpful, however, the quality of supervision varies.
- Inspectors saw evidence at the daily MASH meeting of confident and sensitive understanding and response to potential risk, including that of radicalisation and female genital mutilation.
- Return home interviews are undertaken increasingly and in a timely manner when young people go missing.
“The local authority has carefully considered the commissioning of services to support vulnerable adolescents, with a clear understanding of local need. A range of services, such as family therapy, are available, with evidence that these are valued by families. In a small number of cases, delay in timely access to support is because of long waiting lists,” said the report.
The report highlights that between January and March 2018, a worker commissioned from Barnardo’s provided individual, intensive, systemic direct work to 17 young people at risk of child sexual exploitation as well as to three families. This support is highly valued by young people and families, who report positively about being ‘listened to in a non-judgemental way’.
“Specialist foster carers or residential placements are commissioned for young people who need it. This includes effective multi-agency support for those placed out of area,” the report concludes.