Swindon Borough Council’s Children’s Services department has again received a good report from Ofsted following its unannounced inspection of the contact, referral and assessment arrangements and their impact on minimising any child abuse and neglect.
Inspectors spent two days last month considering a range of evidence including electronic case records, supervision files and notes and observing social workers and senior practitioners.
The positive inspection identified a number of areas of strength, one of which included funding independent advocates to support all children over the age of nine in child protection conferences so children’s views are taken into account.
Ofsted also recognised excellent partnership working including monthly multi-agency meetings to discuss cases of concern, while the number of qualified and experienced staff within the department was also praised.
The report also identifies 12 areas where the service at least meets the statutory guidance and these include the appropriate use of child protection policies and procedures, the use of the common assessment framework (CAF) across partner agencies to provide a wide range of preventative services, and the use of effective and robust out-of-hours arrangements so unannounced welfare checks can be made out of daytime hours when required.
Only three areas were deemed as needing development and these included decisions on initial contacts where timescales are not always made in accordance with statutory guidance and assessments for teenagers which do not consistently reflect sufficient focus on a range of protective factors.
The quality and timeliness of initial assessments was also deemed to need improvement, but inspectors noted that senior managers have addressed this issue and changes to the system are due to be implemented on April 1.
Areas of development identified at the previous inspection in July 2009 were also met. These included ensuring that children are seen alone when social workers undertake their initial assessments, making sure case records are up to date to enable appropriate tracking and monitoring of cases, and ensuring timescales for initial assessments are in line with requirements.
Delays in writing up initial assessments have also been fully addressed since the last inspection.
Cllr David Renard, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “It is pleasing that so much of the important work carried out by Children’s Services to protect vulnerable children in the borough meets or exceeds Ofsted’s required standard.
“We have worked hard to address the areas for development identified in the previous report and we have already demonstrated that we are well on the way to meeting the areas outlined in the latest inspection.”