Ofsted hails council progress helping children in care

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

Dudley Council has been praised by the government watchdog following a monitoring visit in January. In a letter to Sue Butcher, acting director of children’s services at the authority, Ofsted inspector Andy Waugh said the council’s improvement plan “continues to focus on better outcomes for children”.

It concluded: “The local authority continues to make positive progress in improving services for children and young people.”

The visit by inspectors was the fifth positive one to have taken place since the council’s children’s services were rated inadequate by Ofsted in April 2016. During this monitoring, on this occasion inspectors focused on the effectiveness of services for children who need an alternative family, with a particular focus on adoption.

Inspectors praised “good quality assessments” of prospective adopters, which allows children to be “appropriately matched”. It said adoption introduction plans for children were “sensitive and comprehensive” and tailored to individual needs.

Ofsted said the majority of children in care were being adopted and part of a permanent family in “a timely way”, and said improvements in this regard were a “positive picture”. Inspectors also said the “quality of social work practice continues to improve”. It concluded: “Senior leaders, social workers and managers continue to demonstrate a commitment to improving outcomes for children in Dudley.”

The letter said there were still a small number of children who had been in the care system for “a number of years” who had not yet been adopted. But it added council leaders had already recognised this and systematic work was already under way to improve outcomes. Councillor Anne Millward, cabinet member for children’s services, said:

“We are very pleased with the findings of the monitoring visit, which is now our fifth successful one in a row. It demonstrates we are continuing to move in the right direction to transform services and I’m particularly pleased it makes reference to the good work of social workers and managers in finding permanent homes for the children in our borough who most need them. 

“Since the inspection last year, we have worked extremely hard to make real changes. 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 move forward.”

The visit considered a range of evidence, including electronic case records, supervision files and notes, and direct observation. Inspectors also spoke to a range of staff including managers, social workers and a small number of carers.

The council will continue to receive visits from Ofsted inspectors at regular intervals over the coming months as it continues to implement improvements.


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