Improvements have been seen at Knowsley children's services thanks to strong, committed senior leadership and good corporate support, Ofsted has said.
Knowsley’s children’s services were last inspected by Ofsted in 2017, when the overall effectiveness of services was judged to require improvement to be good. However, progress seen at that inspection has been sustained and built on, the focused visit of the local authority found.
"Inspectors found effective social work practice within the MASH, which also benefits from co-location of a wide range of partner agencies," said the report. "Information-sharing is prompt and application of thresholds in the MASH is consistent and appropriate."
Partner agencies are engaged effectively in holistic planning for children. Consequently, children in need of help and protection in Knowsley receive a timely, proportionate and effective response from the MASH, which improves their situation, Ofsted found.
Inspectors considered the local authority’s arrangements at the first point of contact for children who need help and protection.
The report highlighted:
- Contacts to the MASH are appropriate and responded to quickly.
- Well-attended multi-agency meetings make appropriate decisions for children based on effective information-sharing.
- The multi-agency ‘Shield’ team is highly effective in responding to child sexual exploitation, child criminal exploitation and children who go missing from home or care.
- Child protection enquiries are timely, thorough and reflect a clear analysis of risk with reference to significant harm.
- Case summaries and chronologies are a strength.
- Allegations of abuse, mistreatment or poor practice by professionals are taken seriously and are appropriately responded to.
- The local authority has clear and robust performance management arrangements in place.
"Social workers and case managers appropriately recognise the factors that make children more vulnerable," said the report. "Inspectors saw robust responses to children experiencing domestic abuse, with effective multi-agency working that is helping to reduce risk."
Social workers and case managers receive regular supervision which they value. They report that it is of good quality and provides opportunity to reflect on the impact of their practice on the child and their own professional development.
Management oversight through supervision is effectively formulating plans and actions within timescales appropriate for the child.
In order to imrpove practice, Ofsted recommends that Knowsley focuses on the consistency in the quality of assessments and the timing of strategy discussions in response to escalating concern to support better planning of child protection enquiries.