Social workers at the London Borough of Merton are supported and supervised effectively by experienced managers, Ofsted has reported.
A focused visit which considered the local authority’s arrangements for children who need help and protection, in accordance with the Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services framework, found that work within the MASH remains a strong area of practice, as it was when the local authority was last inspected in 2017.
"It is well established, with effective multi-agency engagement, and partners’ contributions lead to timely and proportionate responses to the risks identified at the time of referral," said the report. "Assessments are comprehensive and analytical, and lead to clear plans that help to improve children’s and families’ circumstances."
Case records contain a clear rationale for decisions. Children are offered help that is proportionate to risk, and a highly effective and coordinated offer of early help provision ensures that families are not in receipt of statutory services unnecessarily.
- Thresholds of need are clearly understood by staff and partners and they are applied consistently.
- When the threshold for statutory services is not met, children and families have the benefit of a highly effective offer of early help.
- Most strategy discussions involve relevant partner agencies and demonstrate good use of family history and multi-agency information.
- Assessments of children’s needs are generally of a good quality, are timely, comprehensive, and are informed by history and research.
- Good engagement and participation from wider professional networks lead to effective multi-agency plans.
- Management oversight is routine and frequent, and provides clear direction, support and challenge to workers.
- Senior managers have an accurate picture of the strengths and areas for improvement for services at the ‘front door’.
In order to improve social work practice, Ofsted recommends that Merton works on the quality and consistency of plans for children, the tracking and monitoring of the management of allegations against professionals and the focus of case audits on impact and outcomes for children.
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