Trafford children’s services is currently delivering against a targeted transformation plan to implement a whole-system approach to permanence, including early permanence, said Ofsted.
Inspectors looked at the local authority’s arrangements for achieving permanence and found that there have been recent political and senior management changes at Trafford. Internal expertise has been utilised well to provide stability, consistency and a continued focus to improve service delivery for children and their families.
“Leaders understand the strengths and weakness of their services and use this knowledge well to identify areas for development,” said the report.
All relevant options for children’s permanence, including adoption, are considered and clear rationales for decisions are recorded on the child’s case record. Assessments of whether it is in the best interests for brothers and sisters to live together are appropriate. They balance supporting enduring brother and sister relationships against the long-term needs of the individual children. Social workers successfully assess all family members in a timely way to determine whether it is in children’s best interests to remain living within their family.
- Multi-agency working is effective and timely information sharing between professionals leads to appropriate services being provided to support children.
- Contact arrangements for the majority of children are well managed and are informed by the child’s wishes and needs.
- Children with a plan for adoption benefit from tenacious family finding, child-centred life-story work and later-life letters, as well as strong collaborative liaison between adoption support social workers and children’s social workers.
- IROs visit and speak with children to ascertain their views as part of the review process.
- Senior leaders have developed services to support achieving improved permanence outcomes for children.
However, there are delays for some children when a placement order has been granted and they are waiting to be matched with an adoptive family. In addition, caseloads for some social workers are too high.
Audit activity across children’s services is not routinely undertaken each month. This does not enable the local authority to gain a comprehensive overview of current permanence practice or to address any issues as they arise.
In order to improve social work practice, Trafford needs to make timely decisions and completion of assessments to progress permanence for children who are being cared for by connected persons through SGO. The authority should update children’s assessments to ensure that planning for children is informed by a full analysis of children’s current circumstances.
There should be formal escalation by independent reviewing officers in order to minimise drift and delay for children. All children should be supported with a plan for permanence to understand their journey and history by ensuring that there is a consistent and planned approach to direct work.
Finally, further development and training in needed to improve the efficiency of the fostering panel.