Plans continue to improve children’s services in Dudley

Councillors and officers are determined to continue to improve following a recent Ofsted report.

The authority remains in the requiring improvement to be good category. The report highlights many areas of good practice within the service, providing a firm base for future ambitions.

Whilst some improvements have yet to be achieved, Ofsted recognises the positive progress, especially over the of the last 18 months, following the appointment of an experienced director for children’s services and the stabilising of the team as a whole. The councillors’ responsibility as corporate parents was also highlighted.

The report recognised a strong early help service and an effective front door. There is an effective child exploitation service, which also provides a good response to those missing from home.

As part of the early help strategy Ofsted noted that children benefitted from the Family Group conference service. The private fostering and LADO (safeguarding) were said to provide good and effective services.

A particular strength was the Virtual School which was deemed to provide good and effective services and was praised as ‘a strength for Dudley.’ Adoption services were said to be well-organised and sensitively provided.

Many of the children who are within the authority’s care are in placements which meet their needs well and are they are cared for by nurturing carers. Care leavers have access to a wide range of supported and independent accommodation options, including Staying Put. The use of apprenticeships and support and training within the service was also recognised with a comprehensive workforce development plan that has a strong emphasis on ‘growing your own’ social workers.

There is still work to do, with areas of focus including ensuring care leavers are aware of all the opportunities available to them and improving how they can input to the service, improving the quality and timeliness of assessments, plans and paperwork, and ensuring sufficient staffing. Councillor Ruth Buttery, cabinet member for children and young people said:

"We absolutely recognise and agree with the findings of the report. With a new service director we’ve now got the much-needed stability and focus the service needs and we will be working hard to ensure that we bring those areas which need improvement up to standard.

"Our staff and carers care passionately about supporting our children, families and young people and as corporate parents we want to make sure we give our staff the resources and support they need to deliver a quality service.

"As a child friendly borough, this report just reiterates our priority to put our children and young people first and we look forward to the continuing journey of improvement which will help to make this happen."


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