Ofsted break ‘Good’ news to county council after social services inspection

Cabinet member Mark Sutton praises dedicated social care services professionals.

VULNERABLE children in Staffordshire continue to be well looked after by the county council’s social services.

An Ofsted inspection of children’s social care services published today confirms that the authority has retained its overall rating of ‘Good’ – one of only three in the West Midlands to achieve this rating.

Mark Sutton, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Children and Young People, said: “This rating by Ofsted reflects a great deal of hard work by dedicated professionals to keep our children safe.

“It is a tremendous achievement when one considers the increasing numbers of children needing support at a time when funding from the Government simply isn’t keeping pace with the cost of providing the necessary specialised services.”

In the last 10 years the number of children in Staffordshire who are receiving support from social services has risen has risen 1,143 to 1,912, with the cost of caring for the most vulnerable increasing from £58 million to £110.8 million.

Among Ofsted’s main findings were:

  • The children’s service budget is protected, with additional funding for more social workers;
  • Social workers’ caseloads have reduced, leading to ‘improved outcomes for many children’;
  • ‘Skilled practitioners work with children and families to reduce risks, meet needs and achieve positive change’.

The report also highlights many other areas of good practice, including mature partnership working, effective and timely screening for children referred to the service, and the quality of an experienced workforce.

Mark Sutton said: “Given the increasing pressures on children’s services it is a great achievement to be rated as ‘Good’ overall again.

“We are also committed to focusing on prevention, early intervention and keeping more children out of care when it is safe to do so.

“There are some areas for improvement, including reducing the timescales for helping a very small number of children who are subject to a child protection plan for more than two years, developing better systems for helping those who go missing repeatedly, and improving support for older care leavers.”

He added: “The Ofsted inspectors largely positive findings are, in no small part, down to the dedication of our staff who often work in some of the most challenging situations.

“While we are committed to improving the lives of the most vulnerable children, together with our partners we continue to make clear to Government that there needs to be a national, sustainable solution to how we continue to fund children’s care.”