Stockport has further strengthened services for children who need help and protection, Ofsted has found.
Stockport children’s services were last inspected by Ofsted in July 2017 and all areas were judged to be good,with adoption judged to be outstanding. Since then, improvements have been made including more robust arrangements in the multi-agency support and safeguarding hub, the focused visit to Stockport children’s services found.
“Expert advice on early help services ensures that children and families who need support,but do not require an urgent response, are considered promptlyand linked to appropriate supportwithout delay. The ‘team around the child’and ‘team around the school’approach is embedded across Stockport,” said the report.
Multi-agency strategy meetings are held promptly, but some children are subject to repeated strategy meetings when other information-sharing mechanisms wouldsufficewithout invoking section 47 procedures.
Inspectors looked at the local authority’s arrangements for contact, referral and assessment,including the provision of early help and statutory services.
– There is a strong and well-understood early help offer.
– Professionals understand very clearly how to access early help support for children and their families via the MASSH.
– Children and family’s needs are met by a wide and varied range of suitable services.
– Children at risk of complex safeguarding receive a good service from a well-informed multi-disciplinary team, Aspire.
– A tightly organised and well-functioning system is in place to ensure that children who go missing do not ‘slip through the net’.
– The First Response service in the MASSH is well managed and provides a timely and thorough response to all new contacts to children’s social care.
– The police domestic abuse specialistsin the MASSH ensure that there is no backlog of domestic abuse incidents.
– Effective multi-agency working in social work teams is a routine feature of all cases and positively contributes to decision-making and planning.
– Plans derived from good-quality assessments lead to positive outcomes for children.
However, Ofsted stated that the quality of social work assessments varies. The report recommends that the clarity of actions recorded in children’s plans are improved, to help families understand who is responsible for each action and what success looks like.
The recording of supervision sessions requires improvement to include reflection, challenge and agreed next steps. The appropriateness of strategy meeting arrangements when children are already subject to protection plans or other appropriate interventions also needs focus.
“All social workers said that they feel well supported.While they were positive about their supervision, including group supervision, some records seen were brief, did not contain any reflection, or review progress against previous actions. Staff report caseloads to be manageable but said that high caseloads affected the quality of their recording,including maintaining chronologies.Caseloads of 25 to 33 were seen in one team.The local authority is fully aware of caseload pressures and reduces these as quickly as possible,” the report concludes.