According to the latest Ofsted inspection of children’s services, vulnerable children in Staffordshire are very well protected.
For the second inspection in a row Staffordshire County Council’s services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers are all rated as ‘Good’ in every category, with no areas needing urgent improvement. The inspection was a pilot for the new Ofsted regime to be introduced for all local authorities in England from early next year. The report says: “The senior leadership team, chief executive and elected members have maintained an uncompromising focus on strengthening services for children in Staffordshire.”
Mark Sutton, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Children and Young People, said: “The new form of inspection focuses on what actually happens to those who need our help and support and I’m delighted to say we’re making a real difference where it matters.
“I’m also pleased that Ofsted recognises the quality of the preventative work with families where there are children at risk of coming into the care system – it’s better for everyone if we can prevent problems escalating and help children stay with their families.”
The report notes much of the success of the Families First service is linked to the sustained investment in staff development and good working conditions.
Mark Sutton added: “By providing clear management, good training and support, we have a low staff turnover which means we can develop and maintain high standards across the service.
“Most importantly it means children can build up a long term relationship with one social worker who understands their needs and can help them achieve their ambitions.”
Among the findings, Ofsted also praised:
- Children are placed with carers who meet their needs;
- Good support for carers;
- Stability of children’s placements with carers is good;
- Disabled children benefit from high quality support;
- Children in care are making progress in education;
- The quality of adoption work is good.
Staffordshire County Council is one of only two authorities in the West Midlands to be ranked as ‘Good’ and is in the top third of authorities nationally.
Mark Sutton said: “This is an outstanding performance by a team of dedicated professionals, who are working very hard to change people’s lives.”