Scrutiny from senior leadership is helping “better quality social work practice” to be embedded in a children’s services’ front door team, inspectors have said.
The focused visit of the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) in Barking and Dagenham found “sound social work practice” in both the MASH and assessment service, which had benefitted from “innovative actions to secure a more stable workforce”.
The service was rated ‘requires improvement’ overall in 2014, and inspectors found since then the MASH had been reconfigured and “works effectively to safeguard children”.
Inspectors said the senior leadership knew the service well, and there was strong corporate leadership to improve services, and the scrutiny “enables better quality social work practice to embed”.
“Previous areas of concern within the MASH and assessment service have been tackled effectively.”
Recruitment and retention
Improvements in recruiting and retaining social workers were said to be beginning to “stabilise the workforce, enabling more consistency in social work practice, and fewer changes of social workers for children.”
Staff reported being happy to work in Barking and Dagenham, where there was a “supportive culture, open access to management advice and appropriate training available”.
While management oversight was well embedded in the MASH, it was more variable in the assessment service, and Ofsted said the council needed to improve the supervision of case work being recorded.
It added that the use of qualitative information and auditing had not yet begun to drive and monitor practice improvements, and the quality of referrals from partner agencies weren’t always comprehensive enough.