Ofsted inspectors have praised the way social workers in Lincolnshire support children exposed to domestic abuse in a report published today.
The deep dive multi-agency inspection found children were “sensitively” supported by social workers and early help staff to develop safety plans through their own words and pictures.
“Clear messages are given to children throughout this work that the abuse is not their fault but that if they are at risk there are things they can do to help them stay safe,” it said.
The review looked at how local services responded to the issue and found there were a “wide range of resources” to support direct work with children, and services were well used and making a positive difference in many cases.
“There is good awareness and ownership of the domestic abuse joint protocol by front line staff across agencies. There has been a strong focus on equipping frontline staff and their managers with the knowledge and assessment tools required to better understand and tackle domestic abuse,” the report added.
Inspectors did however find “gaps” in services for perpetrators who had not received convictions and warned this had the potential to undermine the good work in place. The electronic recording system in children’s social care also failed to support effective practice, they added.
“The system is not efficient and inspectors experienced significant delays in accessing key information from the system for this inspection. This means that social workers are spending unnecessary time on administrative tasks and records do not easily provide a coherent picture of the child’s lived experience and background.”
Police were found to be assessing whether domestic abuse cases would meet the threshold for intervention from social care, despite not having formal training to undertake the work. The report added that written agreements, used by social care, placed an “over reliance” on the victims to manage their own safety.
“Such agreements do not always make clear that professionals take full account of the psychological impact of abuse on victims, the threats to which they are exposed or the heightened risk to victims and children at the point of separation from the abuser.
“If agreements are to be used they should always make clear the support the victim can expect from agencies, including police use of powers to protect victims and their children,” the report said.