Inspectors say council is making little progress with children services

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Tuesday, January 21st, 2020 8:47pm

By Carmelo Garcia - Local Democracy Reporter

Government inspectors say Herefordshire Council has made little progress in improving their children’s services.

Ofsted told the council it needed to improve the services after its inspection in June 2018.

At the time inspectors said the impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families was inadequate and the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection needed improvement.

Now, the latest inspection suggests the local authority has made little progress in improving the quality of practice for children in need and those subject to a child protection plan since the last inspection.

Inspector Peter McEntee said in the report: “Despite strategic and financial interventions to improve staff stability and managerial capacity and to ensure better quality practice, Herefordshire has made little progress in improving the quality of practice for children in need and those subject to a child protection plan since the last full inspection.

“Areas of concern identified at the last full inspection in relation to children in need and child protection services have not been resolved.”

“Despite ongoing investment by senior leaders, children in need and child protection social work services remain challenged by vacancies as well as turnover of staff and ongoing difficulties in attracting experienced staff.

“Supervision of staff is inconsistent in quality and, when considering casework, does not provide good enough guidance or an overview of progress.

“While no child was seen to be left at significant risk and without intervention, child protection plans are not sufficiently focused on the links between parents’ actions and the impact on the child, making it more difficult for parents to understand their responsibilities.

“There are gaps in the recording of both core groups and children in need meetings, resulting in slower progress in meeting children’s and family’s needs.

“There is better work in the children with disabilities team; plans for children are more focused on their needs and there is more consistent guidance and reflection from supervising managers.”

The inspection says they need to improve the frequency and quality of superivison offered to social workers and prioritise family support work for those most in need.

Another aspect which needs work is how child protection plans are written in order to ensure that children are clearly identified as the focus of actions to reduce risk.

The council most also provide more support for newly qualified social work staff, including a review of case holding expectations and responsibilities and act in a timely manner to address deficits identified in case audit activity.

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