Isle of Wight children’s services have been rated as good by Ofsted.
The report said services for children in the Isle of Wight have improved since the single inspection in 2014, when they required improvement to be good.
“The strategic partnership between the Isle of Wight Council and Hampshire County Council has brought stable and consistent leadership, increased resilience and a firm focus on continual improvement,” said the report.
“Highly skilled, ambitious senior leaders have a clear, shared vision and an accurate understanding of the strengths and areas for improvement of the service. Together with political leaders, they have responded well to growing demands, creating a stable and permanent workforce,” it added.
The experiences and progress of children who need help and protection were rated as good. Inspectors noted:
– An increasing number of children and families access early help services and benefit from a comprehensive range of support, commissioned through an external provider via a network of family centres across the island.
– Early help coordinators proactively support lead professionals to complete good-quality early help assessments and to coordinate helpful team-around-the-family meetings.
– Positively, the introduction of the children’s assessment and safeguarding teams (CAST), has reduced the number of transition points for children.
– Social workers know children well, visit children frequently and are passionate about their work. They undertake sensitive direct work to understand children’s wishes, feelings and experiences.
– Social workers recognise when concerns for children escalate and they take appropriate steps to respond.
The experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers were judged to be good.
The report highlighted:
– Social workers make timely and appropriate decisions for children to come into care when they cannot remain in the care of their families.
– Most children benefit from a good range of support to meet their needs, including specialist placements on and off the island.
– The training and approval of foster carers are effective.
– Children in care benefit from a range of support to meet their emotional needs, including the therapeutic writing group.
– Children’s need for permanence is considered at the earliest opportunity.
– Careful consideration is given to the possibility of children returning home from care through thoughtful assessment, planning and managerial oversight.
– Almost all care leavers live in suitable accommodation, with high numbers remaining in staying-put arrangements with their foster carers after they turn 18.
The impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families are rated to be good.
The report said:
– Aspirational and highly competent leaders have a clear and shared vision for children’s services.
– Senior managers have worked hard to build partners’ trust and confidence in the service.
– A comprehensive quality assurance programme, combined with the rigorous use of performance information, enables leaders to maintain effective oversight of practice.
– Managers consistently provide valuable support to social workers, ensuring good oversight of children’s plans.
– However, the current information record system does not support social workers in finding documents swiftly, and electronic operational information is not readily available to inform performance management.
“The island location presents unique challenges for social work recruitment, limiting the resource pool available. However, senior leaders have worked diligently to address this, creating a stable workforce that is predominantly permanent. This is a significant achievement since the last inspection, when agency rates were high,” the report concluded.
Ofsted recommends that the Isle of Wight children’s services addresses the quality and oversight of children subject to pre-proceedings plans and the accessibility and clarity of letters before proceedings. It should also focus on the response to 16-and 17-year-olds who are homeless.
The authority should ensure there is sufficient suitable housing to meet the needs of all care leavers who wish or need to live on the island.
Finally, the recording of reflective discussion and actions to progress plans in case supervision records needs work.