Inspectors have praised social workers in Hackney for their ‘tenacious’ efforts to engage families and spend time building a rapport with children.
Ofsted rated the council’s children’s services ‘good’ overall. The Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB) became the first to be rated ‘outstanding’.
Inspectors found children were well protected, social workers had built relationships with families and developed a rapport with children as part of their work.
“[Children’s] views are listened to and influence the help and support that they receive. Inspectors saw creative use of direct work to ensure that children were able to express their wishes and feelings,” Ofsted said.
Practitioners were “tenacious” in their efforts to engage families and some cases showed a “demonstrable” improvement in engagement over time, inspectors said. However, in a small minority of instances social workers should have escalated cases quicker due to parental non-engagement, they added.
Social workers shared caseloads across their teams, and reported feeling well supported by managers, the report found. A comprehensive workforce strategy meant there was also a coordinated approach to learning, development and recruitment.
The report credited Hackney’s interim director, Anne Canning, for identifying priorities to improve services, adding: “During the inspection, she took decisive action to cease a practice of visiting families prior to taking threshold decisions for children’s social care, and to establish more robust management oversight of early help visits and more transparency for children and families.”
Inspectors also found Hackney’s “excellent in-house clinical service” had provided quick access to CAMHS support and given social workers “real-time clinical input” on complex cases.
Areas for improvement in children’s services included the need for the local authority to ensure assessment timescales are properly planned for and completed in appropriate timeframes, and a greater focus in plans for children on what steps are needed to achieve outcomes, Ofsted said.
The “inspirational” Local Safeguarding Children Board was praised by inspectors, who said the partnership showed an “unwavering determination to safeguard children”.
Eleanor Schooling, Ofsted’s chief inspector for social care, said it was “really pleasing” to see an LCSB get an ‘outstanding’ rating and showed others what was possible.
This was the first LSCB to be rated ‘outstanding’, and Ofsted’s chief inspector for social care, Eleanor Schooling, said it was “really pleasing” and showed others what was possible.