Council continues journey to improve its Children’s Services
Following the recent visit (September 2019) Ofsted says a number of the recommendations from their last visit have been progressed, however some areas still need further work.
During its recent visit to Gloucestershire’s Children’s Services, the council asked Ofsted to focus its attention on areas that it had identified as needing improvement; plans for care leavers, management oversight, and arrangements for responding to allegations about adults in a position of trust.
Ofsted found that most care leavers benefit from regular visits and enjoy positive, trusting relationships with social workers, although support is not effective in all areas.
The majority of young people have plans in place for when they leave care, but Ofsted found that the quality of plans varied, and that they were not routinely updated when young people’s circumstances changed – because of this the plans are not an effective tool to assess young people’s needs or to measure progress.
Ofsted also found that not all care leavers had access to timely mental health provision and that they are not routinely provided with information to help them understand the history of their own health. The use of health passports needed to be embedded.
The letter noted that the council’s ‘essentials’ training programme has been extended to include leaving care workers and early evidence suggests this is informing and improving social workers’ practice. It highlighted a good range of opportunities for care leavers to shape and influence the service, with sixteen care ambassadors actively involved in training staff to better understand the experiences of young people leaving care.
Ofsted also found that the council’s auditing programme is well embedded, but the number of audits completed in relation to care leavers is small, which limits its understanding and oversight of the effectiveness of the service. It also found that arrangements for managing allegations against adults who work or volunteer with children require strengthening.
Cllr Richard Boyles said: “As Ofsted clearly recognised, the senior leadership team is determined to continue to develop and improve services for young people leaving care in our county.
“We know our strengths and weaknesses and we have action plans in place which are helping us to embed standards of good practice and develop the skills of our social workers to better support care leavers. Whilst it is pleasing that Ofsted recognise areas of progress, it’s clear that we have more to do and must work even harder to achieve the level of consistency needed to make a step change in performance. We are committed to making sure children and young people are kept safe and have the same opportunities as every child in the county.”