Ofsted visit says East Riding of Yorkshire Council's children's services is moving in right direction
Senior leaders at East Riding of Yorkshire Council's children's services are "working effectively through an improvement plan" despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Ofsted inspectors.
The comments were made in a recently published letter by Ofsted following a second focused visit by inspectors to the council's children's services following the inadequate judgement received in March 2020.
Since that judgement, senior leaders have been working with Ofsted, the Department for Education and other partners to ensure improvements to the service would be implemented quickly and effectively.
During the two-day visit, which took place in May, inspectors said: "the council and its partner agencies are committed to facilitating the changes required to ensure that services for vulnerable children are effective.
"Additional investment has been made to support the improvement plan, and additional scrutiny is ensuring a clear line of sight throughout the council.
"Practice standards have been established within children's services to provide clearer expectations about the quality of the service.
"Senior leaders have an accurate understanding of where improvements have been achieved and are realistic about the on-going challenges that remain".
Inspectors also recognised that the separation at the "front door" of the early-help hub and the safeguarding and partnership hub had seen "positive and significant reduction in the number of referrals of children that need to be progressed to children's social care".
They found child protection concerns are responded to in a timely way and children and families are visited in a timely way if they move from one service to another, ensuring there is no delay in them receiving the appropriate service.
They also reported that staff felt supported during the pandemic with managers and staff working hard to maintain morale while senior leaders have been "visible and in touch remotely".
Ofsted also noted need for further improvement which included:
- the quality of children's plans, to consistently reflect actions required and expectations of families
- management action to address drift and delay in child in need and child protection planning
- the inclusion of multi-agency child exploitation (MACE) meeting recommendations in children's plans to facilitate timely actions to reduce risk
- the quality of the letter before proceedings, so that families are clear about concerns and what needs to be achieved to avoid court proceedings being instigated.
Councillor Victoria Aitken, portfolio holder for children and young people's education, health and wellbeing at East Riding of Yorkshire Council said: "The council wants to be able to provide the best possible services for children, young people and their families across the East Riding.
"While there are still areas that need improving it is very encouraging to hear from the inspectors that the council's children's services are moving in the right direction."
Eoin Rush, director of children, families and schools at East Riding of Yorkshire Council said: "I welcome the findings of the inspectors who have recognised the good progress we have made within this service area.
"Staff across children's services have worked incredibly hard, while also dealing with the challenges of COVID-19, to make sure the improvement plan, which we put in place in March last year, continues to be implemented in a timely and effective manner.
"We do know there is still work to do in some areas of the service and we will continue to work with Ofsted, the Department for Education as well as other partners to ensure we reach our goal of being able to offer the best possible services to the children and young people of the East Riding."