Inspectors hail authorities “positive progress” in helping children

“Positive progress” continues to be made in improving services for vulnerable children and young people in Dudley, according to a letter from Ofsted.

Dudley Council has been praised by the government watchdog following a monitoring visit earlier this month. In a letter, Ofsted inspector Alison Smale said that the local authority has 'made positive progress in improving services for children and young people'.

The visit by inspectors was the sixth positive one to have taken place since the council’s children’s services were rated inadequate by Ofsted in April 2016. On this occasion, inspectors focused on early help. It looked at what actions the authority was taking to provide support where problems are emerging for children, young people and their families, or with a population most at risk of developing problems.

Ofsted also looked at the threshold between early help and statutory social work as the other main focus of the visit, and found it to be correctly applied.

Inspectors visited two of the borough’s five family centre hubs and read electronic case records and supervision records, as well as meeting with social workers, family support workers and team managers. 

The letter says the quality of early help services has “improved” since the last inspection, with more children than ever now accessing them. They said children’s needs were “identified promptly” to ensure they get benefit from early help “at the earliest opportunity”.

Inspectors praised support workers in the family centre hubs. The letter said they “know the children they work with well, and are enthusiastic and committed to providing positive outcomes for children”.

Inspectors noted that there were no children seen to be at risk of significant harm or neglect during the visit, and praised the new revised and relaunched Early Help Strategy. Councillor Angus Lees, cabinet member for children's services, said: 

"We are very pleased with the findings of the monitoring visit, which is now our sixth successful one in a row. It demonstrates we are continuing to move in the right direction to transform services.

“I’m particularly pleased it makes reference to the good work of the staff we have working hard in our family centres to ensure we identify quickly the children in our borough who most need help. 

“Although we are making positive steps, we will not rest on our laurels. We know there are still areas where improvements need to be made and we have plans in place to address these as we continue to move forward.”

The council is due to have one more monitoring visit in August, before a full inspection later this year.


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