Children’s services provided by Rutland County Council require improvement before they can be considered ‘good’, according to a new report.
Ofsted carried out an inspection of services for children in need of help and protection, looked after children and care leavers in November and December last year.
Following that visit, a report published this week stated that “while no children were found to be at immediate risk of harm and most have improving outcomes, the quality of practice in assessment, planning and management oversight is too variable”.
It added: “When immediate risks are identified, child protection enquiries are timely and thorough. However, emerging risks and concerns are often not recognised or addressed as swiftly as they could be, leaving some children vulnerable to further harm”.
The last inspection in 2011 judged the authority’s children’s services as ‘good’, but this has not been sustained.
Councillor Richard Foster, Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People (Safeguarding) at Rutland County Council, said feedback from Ofsted was welcomed and steps were already being taken to address concerns.
He said: “Caring for those who need help and protection is the most important thing we do and we’re pleased that, among the areas where the council is performing well, Ofsted has found that no children in Rutland are at immediate risk of harm and that our staff work quickly to keep children safe when concerns are raised.
“These inspections are extremely thorough for a very good reason and we welcome the feedback we’ve received from inspectors.
“It’s clear from their report that, while the council is making significant progress, there are a number of areas where we need to improve before our children’s services can be rated as ‘good’.”
He said the council was working hard to address the points with staff, managers and councillors.
The report highlighted a number of strengths, including: the early help service uses positive ways of working with families to intervene and support children effectively; social workers, teachers, police officers, foster carers and others work well together to keep children safe if they are at risk of sexual exploitation; the right decisions are made by social workers when children cannot live at home; and social workers place children with people who can look after them well and help them to do well in education and enjoy hobbies; and managers want to improve services further.
A series of recommendations have been made including: ensuring senior leaders have access to comprehensive, high quality performance management information; ensure assessments and plans actively consider all risks to children; increasing the effectiveness of management oversight across the service; and improving the effectiveness of out of hour’s services.