A children’s service that regularly monitors social worker caseloads and takes “prompt action” to address variances has been rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.
Social workers in East Sussex children’s services benefit from regular supervision and managers who act to make sure caseloads are maintained at a level that allow practitioners to build trusting relationships with children and visit those who live outside the region, the inspection report said.
In the small number of cases where workloads were above the council’s recommended level “senior managers demonstrated detailed knowledge about these caseloads and were already taking steps to reduce them”.
Inspectors praised the council’s approach to “developing, inspiring and retaining the children’s social care workforce”.
“Inspectors saw examples of children having the same social worker for many years,” the report said. It also praised a programme of work which reformed safeguarding systems and meant “considerable investment in the training of staff to be more skilled and confident in building relationships with families”.
The report said leaders in the council set “exceptionally high standards for services” and had established a culture where “talented social workers stay, and where effective social work flourishes”.
“The local authority is a strong, dynamic learning organisation that encourages self-reflection at all levels,” the report said, and it praised the “well-embedded” model, called ‘connected practice’, employed in East Sussex.
“The quality and longevity of social work relationships with children in care, care leavers and children who are adopted support purposeful, creative and important direct work.
“Outstanding practice is widespread across the service and is supported by a range of well-used direct work tools such as communication and participation, digital, and neglect toolkits,” the report said.
Responding to the report, Sylvia Tidy, the council’s lead member for children and families, said: “To be rated outstanding is testament to the commitment and dedication of all of our staff, and I would like to thank them all for the fantastic work they do often in difficult and sometimes heart-breaking situations.”