Vulnerable adolescents in Hillingdon receive a highly effective service, a focused visit of the authority by Ofsted has found.
An established whole-system approach ensures that, from the first point of contact, risks are quickly identified. This leads to decisive actions, plans and interventions to reduce risks and improve the circumstances of children and young people.
“Leaders give due priority to resources and offer high-quality support to workers who are skilled and committed. This enables them to adopt an innovative approach in their work, based on developing trusting relationships, and increasingly protects and supports young people with very complex needs who may present as high risk,” said the report following the visit which looked at the local authority’s arrangements for protecting vulnerable adolescents.
Effective multi-agency communication, cooperation and collaboration ensure that vulnerable young people and their wider associations are identified early and preventive services are offered quickly, the report added.
– Detailed and child-centred information from partner agencies, including the out-of-hours service, provides good initial information for assessing the vulnerability of young people at risk of exploitation.
– Thoughtful and analytical assessments clearly evidence the appropriate consideration of wider contextual harm and the risks of exploitation.
– Safety plans are creative and are appropriately used with young people and their carers to explain what should happen to protect young people and keep them safe.
– Young people being assessed as at risk of exploitation can select their own workers from prepared profiles that outline workers’ experience and interests. This enables young people to forge effective and trusting relationships that are quickly established and maintained.
– Some budgets have been devolved to individual social workers which enables them to provide increased support at times of crisis and empowers them to use their professional autonomy to ensure the best and most creative solutions are applied.
– Protected caseloads and regular high-quality case and group supervision provide clear direction and support to workers.
– Workers within AXIS – a comprehensive partnership approach to the early identification of young people at risk of exploitation – provides advice and rapid, targeted intervention to support young people who may not otherwise receive a service.
– A comprehensive programme of council and public health-funded targeted services are available within the borough.
– The ‘high risk management panel’ provides effective senior manager and multi-agency oversight of the experiences and progress of vulnerable adolescents.
– Young people are visited frequently, including those who live at some distance from Hillingdon. Records of visits focus centrally on the young person and reflect the effective and trusting relationships with workers.
– Senior managers know and understand the quality of practice and provision in this area. Established audit and practice observations highlight areas for development.
– Return home interviews are routinely offered to young people through a commissioned service. However, they are not sufficiently tailored to capture relevant and appropriate information relating to risks of exploitation.
“Manageable caseloads enable workers to proactively engage with young people and provide intensive, effective interventions to reduce risk. Staff morale is high, and staff report that they are enthusiastic, motivated and energised in their work. Inspectors found good evidence of this during this visit,” the report said.
Ofsted recommends that Hillingdon improves the capture, collation and recording of information for all children who go missing.