Welfare

22.01.18

‘Significant increase in the pace of change’ found in Norfolk council children’s services

Ofsted has improved the rating of children’s services at Norfolk County Council, removing it from intervention measures for the first time in five years.

Most of the services provided by the council were rated as ‘requires improvement’ by the regulator, and the authority received that rating as an overall score, showing that there are still advancements to be made.

However, the council’s adoption services were given an ‘outstanding’ score as Ofsted said the overall improvement was indicative of a “determination to provide quality services.”

The regulator’s report credits council leaders with promoting change within the organisation and taking control over the improvements.

“After a faltering start following the last inspection of children’s services in 2015, the last 12 months have seen a significant increase in the pace of change, with visible and effective interim senior leaders working purposefully to tackle critical weaknesses,” the report states.

“Elected members demonstrate a determination to provide quality services to children in Norfolk. They are committed corporate parents and have worked resolutely to improve services to children looked after and care leavers.

“There is shared ownership of the improvement journey across the council, promoted by the chief executive and leader of the council, supported by significant financial investment.”

Norfolk County Council operates nine children’s homes throughout the region, of these eight are rated as either ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, with one still judged as ‘requires improvement.’

Penny Carpenter, chairman of the county’s Children’s Services Committee, said: “When I started as chairman of Children’s Services, I said that improving Children’s Services was mission possible. Today, we’ve proven that, thanks to the hard work of our staff, foster carers, councillors and everyone else involved. We’re not complacent – we’ve got to make further improvements – but getting to good is in sight.

“We are investing £12m over the next four years to build on this significant progress, develop greater resilience in families and reduce the number of children in our care. That investment highlights our commitment to continue to improve services for children and young people.”

Ofsted left a number of recommendations for the council going forward, pointing specifically to the caseload of social workers and the benefit of being able to maintain meaningful relationships with the children they work with.

It also said the authority needed to work to ensure systems could manage capacity, strengthen responses for children who go missing or are at risk of sexual exploitation, and work more effectively to involve the right local agencies in strategic discussions.

Top image: Whitemay

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