Senior leaders at South Gloucestershire know their care leavers’ service increasingly well, Ofsted has said.
In the fifth monitoring visit since the local authority was judged inadequate in February 2017, Ofsted said a clearer focus by senior leaders on raising practice standards through more rigorous quality assurance of casework and strategic planning is having a greater impact on improving some key aspects of care leavers’experiences.
"These include keeping in touch with the overwhelming majority of care leavers, access to good accommodation for care leavers, and a well-established employment, education and training offer," said the report which focused on services for care leavers. "Care leavers have been instrumental in developing policies to raise practice standards and in shaping services, such as a ‘drop in’ centre that is better attended and provides care leavers with additional practical and emotional support."
The report found:
- Quality assurance of practice by managers through auditing of casework in the care leavers’ service is increasingly rigorous.
- Overall, audits are more comprehensive, providing more challenge and accuracy. Auditors now critically evaluate and challenge the quality of the team managers’ supervision records.
- The relationships that the team for the transition to independence (TTI) and the disability service have with care leavers are a developing strength.
- The provision of an effective independent advocacy service is a strength for care leavers.
- Pathway planning in the disability service is a growing strength.
Inspectors also highlighted that an area of significant improvement since the last SIF has been the development of the care leavers’ drop-in service, developed in response to care leavers’ feedback. This has resulted in care leavers having a warm and welcoming place where they can meet friends, have fun, and access a wide range of support.
However, although the team for the transition to independence (TTI) manager has made a good start in improving the quality of this team’s work, case recording remains too variable. Weaknesses remain in too many pathway plans in the TTI service with some plans being repetitive, lacking specific details, and actions are sometimes vague with no timescales.
Early transition planning is not yet consistently effective. Inspectors saw a small number of 16-and 17-year-olds without a pathway plan or with an out-of-date plan, thus preventing effective planning for these young people.
Too few care leavers benefit from the opportunity to remain with their foster carers in a ‘staying put’ arrangement after their 18th birthday.
A gap remains in the provision of suitable services to support the emotional well-being of all care leavers when a mental health issue has not been diagnosed.
"Senior leaders understand where practice needs to improve further to maintain the trajectory of improvement. For example, actions to improve the quality and consistency of pathway plans, transition planning, health passports, quality of supervision, case recording and the opportunity to ‘stay put’ with foster carers are underway. These areas are not yet fully embedded in practice, which means that not all care leavers get a consistently good service," the report concluded.