Social workers are supported and supervised regularly at Richmond upon Thames children's services, Ofsted said.
In a focused visit of the authority which looked at the local authority’s arrangements for children who need help and protection, inspectors found referral routes into the single point of access (SPA) and the MASH are well established and effective, as was the case when the local authority was last inspected in 2017.
"Effective multi-agency engagement and partners’ contributions lead to timely and proportionate responses to the risks identified at the time of referral. When children’s needs do not meet the threshold for statutory services, a range of options are considered, including referral to the family support service for an assessment of their needs," said the report.
Children are offered effective help from a wide range of early help services. Senior managers have already identified that early help assessments need to improve in the identification and analysis of presenting needs and risk, in order to inform support plans, it added.
- Thresholds of need are clearly understood by staff and partner agencies and they are consistently applied.
- Professionals appropriately discuss known presenting risks at the daily MASH meeting and identify where further information is required.
- Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) clinicians in the MASH review all referrals in relation to children’s emotional well-being, ensuring that children with significant mental health needs receive a timely and appropriate response.
- Assessments for early help support identify needs appropriately.
- When risks escalate or needs change, work is appropriately stepped up to children’s social care.
- Family therapists, co-located with social workers, provide accessible and effective consultation and programmes of support to children and social workers.
- The social work workforce is increasingly stable in Richmond.
- Senior managers have an accurate understanding of the strengths and areas for improvement for services at the ‘front door’.
"Staff, including newly qualified workers in their assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE), highly value the support from managers. Supervision provides clear direction; it is regular and increasingly reflective," said the report.
"Regular group supervision provides an opportunity to discuss critical issues and informs direct work. Social workers access a wide range of training opportunities and can give examples of how they have applied knowledge to improve practice. The training helps workers to work meaningfully with the children on their caseload. Social workers report that caseloads are manageable," the report concluded.
Ofsted recommends that Richmond improves the identification of needs and the analysis of risk in early help assessments and the understanding and evaluation of the experiences of children and families, and the subsequent coordination and impact of early help and support in improving outcomes.