‘Hard won’ staff resilience and morale at Doncaster Children’s Trust must be maintained to continue the move towards more effective children’s services, a peer review has said.
A safeguarding children review of the trust’s arrangements for delivering children’s services, carried out by the Local Government Association, also said the trust “is now intensively tackling consistency, quality and outcomes” in the service.
The review team consisted of senior officials from local government, including children’s services, health and police. The report follows a recent Ofsted monitoring inspection, which also praised the trust for making “significant progress” in how it protects children and delivers services.
“There is evidence of cultural change that is supporting movement towards more effective practice and service delivery,” the review said.
“Case file audits demonstrated evidence to indicate continued improvement. The trust recognises however, there is still some way to go in achieving consistent practice and case recording in assessment, planning and review. The adoption of robust audit systems is supporting the drive to improve.”
However, the review team did issue a warning over early help arrangements, which it said is an area of “confusion” for the trust, the council and its partners, which share ownership and investment in the service.
“The trust continues to face unsustainable demands on children’s social care at the front door as a result and this is having an impact on caseloads and capacity. Given that around 50% of this pressure is of work that does not meet the agreed threshold, the trust needs to be robust in its management of this demand,” the review said.
It said the trust was aware that maintaining staff resilience and morale, “which has been hard won”, is important to maintain in the context of rising demand.
The LGA reported how partner agencies had noted “improved oversight by social workers who were producing clear plans for children and families”.
Health staff described less drift in cases and positive outcomes for children and there were examples of child protection plans with an improved focus, it said.
John Harris, the independent chair of Doncaster Safeguarding Children Board, welcomed the report, which he said highlighted improvements being made in Doncaster.
“There is still a need to improve the understanding across the borough about how and when to access social services support. The foundations to tackling these concerns are in place and the DCSB will continue to play its role in driving the further improvements required,” he said.