The quality of services for children has “improved in all areas” in Wirral according to the latest Ofsted inspection.
In 2016 Wirral Children’s Services was rated inadequate and subsequently was found to be improving too slowly. This latest assessment by inspectors brings Wirral’s Children’s Services out of Government intervention.
The inspectors praised the new leadership of the department judging their impact as “good”.
Overall the department was rated “requires improvement to be good” while the full report praises many aspects of the changes brought in over the last two years and says “The council now acts as a strong corporate parent.”
This has included an additional £20 million to provide resources for the department, including improved office and technology and a major recruitment drive to remove the need for over-reliance on agency staff.
Cabinet member for Children, Families and Education, Cllr Tom Usher, said: “This is an important place to reach on our journey to improve children’s services, but it is not a destination. Our ambition at this council is to become good and then outstanding, putting children and young people at the centre of all the decisions we make.”
Acknowledging Wirral’s improvement, a letter of congratulations was received today by Council Leader, Cllr Pat Hackett from the new Children’s Minister, Kemi Badenoch MP.
The letter said: “This latest judgement marks an increasing effort to improve services for children and families in Wirral since Ofsted’s last inspection of 2016, and particularly since the appointment of the new senior leadership team and the prioritisation of Children’s Services improvement by the council. I congratulate staff at all levels of the council, and its partners, who have contributed to this outcome.”
Areas singled out for praise include:
- Improved working with partner agencies particularly to help those at risk of criminal or sexual exploitation
- “Significant improvements” in family court work which has “resulted in better outcomes for children”
- Better care planning and record keeping
- Significant work to drive improvement in the fostering service, which has resulted in an increase in the number of foster carers approved to provide a home for children
- staff turnover and numbers of agency workers have reduced considerably
- improvement in stability of the workforce has led to children experiencing greater continuity, with fewer changes in social worker
Areas which require improvement:
- Social work assessments need to take the life experiences of children more into account
- Transition arrangements to adult support needs extra work
- Education plans for children in care, as well as timeliness and attendance
- Helping children receiving support to better understand their situation