The current pace of change at Tameside alongside increased engagement from partner agencies is improving outcome for children, Ofsted has stated.
In the fifth monitoring visit since the council was rated inadequate in December 2016, inspectors found that early help is a service priority for the council.
“The appointment of a dedicated lead for early help has increased capacity,” said the report. “This, coupled with the strategic direction and momentum provided by the new DCS and senior management team, is driving positive progress against the multi-agency early help delivery plan.”
The report highlights that the authority’s self-assessment accurately acknowledges that, during 2017, insufficient progress was made to develop Tameside local authority’s early help services and how they interface with children’s social care.
The recent internal early help audit report accurately reflects the current quality of practice and mirrors the findings of the inspectors.
The report found:
- Children and families in Tameside can access a broad range of early help services.
- Thresholds are appropriately applied, and the level of intervention meets the needs of children and families.
- Decisions to step up cases from early help to children’s social care evidence clear management oversight and rationale.
- Recording in case notes is timely.
- Supervision of staff takes place regularly.
- Managers and early help workers demonstrate an energy and commitment that is reflected in the knowledge and understanding they have of the families they work with.
- Team stability ensures that children can build trusting relationships with their workers, resulting in strong engagement with interventions and improved outcomes.
However, the quality of early help assessments and plans is not consistently good. Assessments often focus on the presenting issue and lack consideration of the wider context and history behind children’s current circumstances. The voice of the child is not always recorded well within case work. While there is evidence of good-quality direct work with children, inspectors saw case recording which lacked analysis and evaluation of the work undertaken.
The Early Help Assessment and Quality Assurance Framework was implemented in February 2018 to strengthen quality assurance and performance management but at this stage it is too early to evaluate the contribution that auditing of casework makes to practice improvement, said inspectors.
“This visit has found evidence of improvement in the pace of change, which has led to positive progress being made in relation to early help services,” said the report. “Leaders and managers are acutely aware of the challenges that they face to embed these changes and develop the service further while simultaneously addressing the areas of weaker practice.”
“They recognise that there is more work to be undertaken to ensure that practice is consistently good and that the best outcomes are achieved for all children,” the report concluded.