Ofsted inspectors have said social work practice in an inadequate-rated children’s services is getting “stronger” following improvements to caseload levels.
A monitoring visit by inspectors found caseloads for social workers in Birmingham children’s services had become more manageable since the service was rated inadequate in 2015. This meant social workers, particularly those working in services for disabled children, had more time to build and establish relationships with the children.
Inspectors found thresholds for children in need were appropriately applied, and children were now being regularly visited in the city.
“In cases seen, plans to step cases down from children in need status to early help services are also appropriate and demonstrate a willingness of other agencies to take on the role of lead professional in these instances,” the report said.
While the quality of social work practice was improving and overall the service was making progress, inspectors said there were “too many instances” where case recording was an update of events with no direction, little challenge or reflection on the case.
“This means that opportunities to enhance case practice and staff understanding of how they can make a difference are being missed,” inspectors said.
It added the quality of case recording was not consistently good, and in poorer examples the work lacked focus, and did not demonstrate a link with the child’s plan.
“The authority has demonstrated that it has made improvements in the quality of social work practice since the last inspection. Further work remains to be done to ensure that practice is consistently good and that the best outcomes for all children are achieved on a timely and consistent basis,” inspectors said.
It was announced last year that Birmingham children’s services would transfer to an independent children’s trust, which started operating in shadow form this April, and will launch fully in April 2018.