Children's Services in Bucks no longer inadequate but still require improvement say Ofsted
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That's according to the latest Ofsted report based on its re-inspection of services which include children in need of help and protection, children looked after, and care leavers.
The report was published on February 11 following the inspection carried out between November 29 and December 17, 2021.
> overall effectiveness of the service
> the experiences and progress of children in need of help and protection
> the experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers
> the impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families.
Inspectors looked at approximately 350 children’s cases and reviewed over 300 documents and supporting evidence.
They met with staff, partners, children and young people, care leavers, parents and carers, adopters and foster carers.
Cabinet Member for Buckinghamshire Children’s Services, Councillor Anita Cranmer said: “We are pleased to hear that the majority of our children in care feel settled and safe where they live.
"We have made considerable progress in our approach to children at immediate risk of serious harm and prompt action is taken to protect them. Our most vulnerable children/new-born babies are safely protected from future harm, either through care proceedings or through rigorous child protection plans.
"We are particularly proud of the progress and improvements the service has made since 2018, no children were identified at immediate risk of serious harm and no widespread or serious failures for children were seen across the services.
"Children’s Services are now at the heart of the new unitary Buckinghamshire Council and managers at every level have worked tirelessly and collectively to ensure that children are safeguarded despite the continuing challenges presented by the pandemic.
"We are pleased that our fostering and adoption service have received particularly positive feedback around the diligent work on early permanence for children that have recently entered care and that our fostering placements are quickly matched and approved.
"Our adoption service has also seen an in increase in the number of adopters that have been recruited this year. Prospective and approved adopters are well supported through regular visits and effective communication.”
Councillor Cranmer added: “We also acknowledge that improvements need to be made, and we commit to reducing the rate of re-referrals and assessments that result in a lack of services being provided for children and families in need.
"We are also committed to improving the quality of case supervision for social workers to enable effective working with children.
"We recognise that we still need to improve our approach with social workers to maintain consistent and regular contact with our children, this will help to ensure children only need to share their story once and reduces the need for duplication.
"As part of our improvement journey, we will continue to adapt and improve the support we provide to children aged 16 and 17 years who present as homeless.
"We also understand the importance of engaging with our children in care under the corporate parenting element of the council and how encouraging more participation with our young children will help provide more relevant and effective outcomes for them.”