Inspectors have said a lack of managerial challenge is resulting in social work visits “without purpose” and practitioners not trying “something different”.
In a focused visit to Devon council’s children’s services, Ofsted praised the council’s efforts to build a stable workforce and lower caseloads, but warned supervision lacked “challenge, urgency and reflection”.
This caused, in some cases, children to be “left in neglectful situations for longer than necessary as social workers are not challenged to try something different”, the report said.
Social workers told inspectors they felt supported and had “the capacity to do purposeful social work with children”.
“However, managers support social workers rather than challenge them and this lack of scrutiny results in visits without purpose and children are not being seen in proportion to identified risk,” the report said.
Inspectors said child protection and child in need plans were often “too adult-focused”, especially in cases featuring domestic abuse.
“Children in need plans are not always specific, clear or measurable and do not readily enable parents to see what needs to change, and by when, or the consequence of not achieving this,” inspectors said.
They added supervision was poorly recorded and there were “still significant gaps” between supervision sessions for some social workers.
Ofsted did praise senior leaders for focusing time and energy on improving services in Devon, which were rated ‘requires improvement’ in 2015, and added that they knew the service’s strengths and weaknesses well.