South Gloucestershire Council continues to make progress in improving services for children in need of help and protection and for those receiving support from the disability services, Ofsted has said.
Senior managers have addressed the weaknesses in the access and referral teams identified at the first monitoring visit of 19 and 20 September 2017, the sixth monitoring visit since the local authority was judged inadequate in February 2017 found.
"Inspectors noted continual improvement in the quality of services for children in the 0–25 disability services. Despite challenges, the quality of service that children in need of help and protection receive from the access and response teams has also improved," said the report.
During the course of this visit, inspectors reviewed progress made in the area of help and protection.
Better recognition of potential risk and more timely responses in this team have resulted in children receiving responses appropriate to their needs. The pace of improvement has increased. Senior managers are aware of the strengths of their services as well as of areas that continue to need further development.
The report highlighted:
- The access and response teams are now delivering a timely and effective service for children.
- Thresholds continue to be consistently applied and key actions are progressed quickly for the overwhelming majority of children who require help and support.
- Children subject to an assessment in the access and response teams are seen promptly and at an appropriate frequency.
- Management direction and oversight are improving, and social workers are positive about the levels of support and direction they receive from their line managers.
- When children are identified as being at potential risk of sexual exploitation, involvement in gangs or county lines, social workers undertake comprehensive risk assessments.
- All staff across both the access and response teams and the 0–25 disability service engage in a variety of appropriate training courses.
The report noted that overall, the quality of assessments and plans has improved, but they are not yet consistently good.
Where statutory intervention is no longer required but preventive services would assist children and families to improve their situation, there is sometimes a delay in these services starting. Senior leaders have recognised this shortfall and are taking action to improve the ‘step-down’ process so it is both timely and streamlined for the benefit of children and families.
The report concluded: "Training opportunities are now well established and continue to support senior managers’ abilities to improve the quality of social work practice. Staff are confident and positive about working for South Gloucestershire and morale is good."