The quality and impact of social work practice with children have been maintained and, in some areas, improved in Salford, Ofsted has reported.
Since the last inspection, children have continued to receive focused, timely and proportionate support in response to their needs and level of risk. Multi-agency arrangements for children are effective and these lead to a good range of interventions that keep children safe.
"There is a strong partnership commitment at the ‘front door’, where escalating concerns about children are responded to promptly. Assessments of need are of good quality and new multi-agency initiatives help support the most vulnerable children and families, including those at risk of exploitation," said the report.
Ofsted rated Salford as good across the board.
- Regarding the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection, Ofsted highlighted:
- Early help arrangements are very effective in supporting children and families at the right time.
- The bridge, the local authority’s front door team, provides an effective, accessible single point of contact to children’s social care and a wide range of other agencies, resources and support.
- Thresholds in response to referrals are consistently applied, supported by good management oversight and decision-making.
- Children’s assessments are timely and of good quality. Assessments are thorough.
- Multi-agency partnerships are strong in Salford.
- Children with specific vulnerabilities, such as children missing from home and those at risk of exploitation, receive a strong and effective service.
In terms of the experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers, Ofsted highlighted:
- When children are unable to remain with their families and cases progress to court, the quality of social work evidence is of a good standard.
- Children in care benefit from good quality assessments which leads to care plans for children that are fully informed by a detailed assessment of need.
- Since the last inspection, an effective ‘discharge from care’ team has been established.
- Children are signposted to timely and bespoke support from child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).
- Care leavers receive an impressive service. A stable staff team builds strong relationships with young people.
- The large majority of care leavers are engaged in education, employment and training and this is supporting them to develop and achieve.
In relation to the impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families, inspectors noted:
- Strategic leadership is strong, stable and effective.
- Leaders maintain a continuous focus on improvement in Salford, and they are keen to explore alternative ways of working with children and families.
- The local authority has established a range of well-embedded initiatives to recruit and retain social workers, with appropriate plans and strategies in place to recruit agency staff to fill vacant posts.
- There is a comprehensive system of quality assurance.
- There is careful monitoring of workloads. Caseloads remain too high in some teams, although additional funding for five extra posts has been secured.
In order to improve social work practice, Salford should focus on the quality and clarity of plans to measure progress. The quality of recording in relation to home visits and direct work with children and families also needs work.
Salford should ensure that there is challenge of avoidable delay by independent reviewing officers and the timeliness of response to children who are living in neglectful circumstances needs improving.