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.
This, at times, has resulted in delay for these children. The local authority has identified this issue and work is underway to secure the most appropriate plan for every child.
Inspectors found that overall, the quality of social work practice continues to improve. Social workers told inspectors that they feel supported and enabled to fulfil their roles. Managers accurately assess the quality of social work practice through their audit activity, and they ensure that any learning is disseminated to the workforce. This is improving the quality of practice and outcomes for children.
Social work practice is child centred, and management oversight is evident on the majority of cases. However, in a small number of cases, inspectors saw that managers and independent reviewing officers do not always challenge practice to address drift in case progression. For a small number of children, permanence plans do not progress as swiftly as they should.
However, inspectors highlighted that supervision is not regular or reflective and actions do not always have timescales to be achieved. Ofsted said that this is an area for improvement.
Child permanence reports provide an accurate picture of the child and some assessments effectively detail the child’s birth and family history, with a clear analysis of their permanence needs.
Inspectors saw good quality assessments of prospective adopters during their visit, with a balance of description and analysis, supporting children to be appropriately matched. Assessing social workers in Dudley have a detailed understanding of adopter’s needs and strengths, and this means that they are suitably matched to children.
Adoption introduction plans for children seen were sensitive and comprehensive, varying in accordance with children’s individual needs. The adoption panel arrangements provide robust independent challenge.
“The local authority’s improvement plan continues to focus on better outcomes for children. Senior leaders and managers are proud of the progress that has been made; however, they are also aware that further improvements are required to ensure that all children consistently receive the support they need,” the report concluded.