Inspectors have praised the effect of additional social workers in a council’s child protection service, saying that more posts had led to a reduction in caseloads.
The focused visit of children’s services in Waltham Forest said an increased number of permanent frontline and managerial posts had strengthened teams and enabled social workers to “provide more effective support to children and their families”.
The service was rated ‘requires improvement’ by inspectors in 2015, but since then there had been “significant work” to develop the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub.
More partner agencies are now co-located, which inspectors said had resulted in “improved, timely multi-agency responses to contacts and referrals”.
“Child protection concerns are quickly identified, leading to timely interventions to safeguard children and reduce risk,” inspectors said.
Corporate and political support
Senior leaders knew the service well and were focused on improving social work practice, and there had been strong corporate and political support to provide targeted resources to improve services, Ofsted said.
“Additional frontline social worker and managerial posts have led to a reduction in caseloads, enabling social workers to provide more effective support to children and their families. Social workers who spoke with inspectors reported that they feel well supported and valued.”
Staff were found to have access to a wide range of induction and training opportunities and this was a “significant factor” in social workers deciding to stay at the local authority.
Inspectors told the council to improve the accuracy of performance management reports following a new case recording system creating some inaccuracies.
It added that quality assurance framework audits were focused on “process compliance” and to drive improvements it needed to be further developed to evaluate the quality of practice and consider how it impacts on outcomes for children.