A summary of the Ofsted reports into children’s services published during March.
Continued focus on improving social work at Newham
There has been a continued focus on improving social work practice at Newham children’s services thanks to corporate and political focus, Ofsted has said.
Leaders know their service well and this supports the development of good social work practice, said Ofsted inspectors in a focused inspection of Newham children’s services
‘Front door’ procedures improved in Northumberland, says Ofsted
Senior managers have taken a systematic and incremental approach to improving its ‘front-door’ procedures in Northumberland, Ofsted has warned.
Inspectors looked at the local authority’s arrangements for the ‘front-door’ service that receives both single and multi-agency contacts and referrals during its focused inspection of Northumberland.
“The current leadership team has improved the effectiveness of the local authority’s initial response to children and young people needing help and protection,” said the report.
Significant unallocated children in need cases highlighted in Reading Council
Ofsted has raised concerns that Reading Council children’s services has made little progress in improving the standard of statutory social work with children and their families.
In its fifth monitoring visit since the authority was rated inadequate by Ofsted in June 2016, inspectors said little progress had been made when there are serious concerns that require a statutory child protection or child in need plan.
“There is a significant number of unallocated child in need cases of which senior managers were not fully aware until shortly before the visit.
Quality of social work practice continues to improve at Dudley
The majority of children are now achieving permanence through adoption in a timely way in Dudley, inspectors have found.
In the fifth monitoring visit of Dudley since the authority was judged to be inadequate in April 2016, Ofsted said however that despite the improvements noted, a small number of children in Dudley are not yet achieving permanence at the earliest opportunity.
“The local authority has worked hard to ensure that the importance of securing early permanence for children looked after is embedded across the children’s workforce. Improved tracking and monitoring systems provide the opportunity for social workers and managers to consider all permanence options for children who have recently entered care,” said the report which focused on adoption.
“Despite the improvements, particularly for children who have recently become looked after, a small number of children in Dudley are not yet achieving permanence at the earliest opportunity,” it added.
Solihull has improved practice for care leavers and UASC
Ofsted inspectors have found that Solihull children’s services have continued improvement in services for young people leaving care and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children since the last inspection.
A focused visit by the inspectorate which concentrated on services for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and children leaving care found that Solihull had an informed overview of its performance and practice.
“Senior leaders and managers know their service well. This has enabled them to improve the quality of practice and support for care leavers and UASC and achieve positive outcomes for young people,” said the report.
Rochdale ‘requires improvement to be good’
Ofsted has stated that children’s services at Rochdale require improvement to be good.
In an inspection of the Rochdale children’s services, Ofsted found that while improvements had been made in response to the previous inspection, the quality of practice that children and families experience “remains inconsistent and the overall effectiveness of children’s social care is not yet good”.
“An over-reliance on performance data and some ineffective quality assurance has prevented leaders from having an accurate understanding of the quality of practice for all children,” said the report. “This has resulted in some weaknesses not being fully identified and addressed.”
Ofsted: Progress at Torbay is too slow
The progress at Torbay children’s services remains too slow, Ofsted has warned.
In its fifth monitoring visit since it was rated inadequate in January 2016, Ofsted inspectors said that the quality of service that some children looked after receive has declined since the local authority was inspected in October 2015.
“Children who are subject to the public law outline (PLO) in Torbay experience delays in arrangements to secure permanent settled homes for them,” said the report. “Risk to children, while generally identified, is not consistently addressed by social workers and their managers.
Significant weaknesses at Wakefield uncovered by Ofsted
Some children is Wakefield children’s services are not being appropriately safeguarded or having their needs met, Ofsted has warned.
There are significant weaknesses in the quality of children’s services in Wakefield, the focused visit to the authority found. There are delays in allocating cases, visiting children and their families, carrying out assessments and in taking the appropriate action to protect children.
“Management oversight, including supervision, is variable and in some cases not evident. Social work recording is too often missing and quality assurance and performance management systems are not sufficiently robust to ensure that managers are fully aware of the quality of services and the experiences of individual children and their families,” said the report.
Quality of child protection work is too inconsistent in Derbyshire, warns Ofsted
Senior leaders have an accurate view of the quality of child protection services for children in Derbyshire, a focused visit of the authority has found.
Leaders are committed to investing in the right conditions for good social work to flourish, although these are not consistently in place across the local authority.
“Appropriate plans are underway to provide more support to social workers and increase capacity to reduce caseloads for social workers. Staff are positive about working for Derbyshire and value the training and development on offer,” the report said.
However, inspectors noted that although no children were found to be unsafe, the quality of child protection work is too inconsistent. The identification of the risk of harm to children when child protection work begins is not clear enough.
Lancashire makes progress
Lancashire children’s services has continued to make some progress, a monitoring visit of the authority by Ofsted has found.
The sixth monitoring visit since the authority was judged inadequate in September 2015 and which concentrated on child protection services, highlighted that during 2017, the local authority worked with partners to streamline its front door service to develop a more efficient referral system to ensure that all children receive a timely and effective response.
“All children are now referred via a single point of access to the MASH and are screened in a timely way by social workers. Children’s needs, and the level of risk they are experiencing, are then considered by three multi-agency locality teams,” said the report. “This has improved the timeliness of response to children, enabled more effective management oversight of work, and supported a better quality of information sharing between partner agencies.”