“Unacceptable” screening visits are being carried out at Oldham children’s services, Ofsted has found.
The focused inspection of the authority which concentrated on the local authority’s arrangements for the front door identified that social workers are undertaking ‘screening visits’ to some children and their families prior to a referral decision, although the rationale for these visits is unclear.
“The local authority explained that these visits are an assessment. However, they are undertaken outside of the single assessment process and this means that families are being assessed without their knowledge or right to read, comment and have their views recorded, and this is unacceptable,” said the report.
In some cases, these visits led to a delay in children having their needs formally assessed and also meant that children and their families had to explain their circumstances to more than one worker in quick succession. Following discussions during this visit, the local authority intends to review the use of screening visits, said Ofsted.
It added that while assessments are timely, further work is required to ensure that the quality of assessments is consistently good.
Ofsted inspectors identified:
However, while some assessments are of good quality, the majority do not include effective consideration of children’s histories to inform analysis of risk, or sufficient analysis of the capacity of parents to do things differently in the future. A small number of children are re-referred to children’s social care for the same or similar issues when weaker assessments did not fully evaluate the risks to, and needs of, children or when cases were closed prematurely.
The response to vulnerable children, including those experiencing domestic abuse or self-harm, and those children who are at risk of sexual exploitation, is variable.
Ofsted recommends that Oldham improves the quality, consistency and child-centeredness of assessments and the efficacy and ethics of first contacts with families.
Oldham also needs to give consideration and understanding of coercive control in cases of domestic abuse and should improve the quality of social work responses to vulnerable adolescents, including those at risk of child sexual exploitation and self-harm.
A blame culture in social work impacts on risk aversion in the social work profession, some respondents to The Case for Change have warned.
Publishing the Case for Change in June, chair of the independent review of children’s social care Josh MacAlister said: “This Case for Change sets out the urgent need for a new approach [...]
Schools were forced to step in to support vulnerable families during the COVID-19 pandemic for many issues that were previously dealt with by social workers, research has found.
Schools found themselves helping vulnerable families with problems such as mental health problems, domestic abuse and poverty during the pandemic as more families were turning to schools [...]
Children and young people at Oakhill Secure Training Centre are being held in their rooms for 23 hours a day, a joint inspection has found.
Children have spent approximately 19 hours per day on average locked in their rooms on average since mid-July 2021, the centre’s records show and on some days, this has increased [...]