OFSTED have said Thurrock Council’s services for children require improvement.
An inspection into children services in the council and a review of the effectiveness of the Local Safeguarding Children Board was carried out by the government watchdog from 22nd February to 17th March this year.
The previous inspection of the local authority’s services for children looked after was in June 2012. The local authority was judged to be good.
The following areas of the children’s services were covered by the report with the following rating being given:
1. Children who need help and protection – Require improvement
2. Children looked after and achieving permanence – Require improvement
2.1 Adoption performance – Require improvement
2.2 Experiences and progress of care leavers – Require improvement
3. Leadership, management and governance – Require improvement.
Below is a summary from the report for children and young people.
Managers do not effectively use the information that they have about the performance of children’s social care to understand what is going well or less well, or to help them to plan relevant improvements to services.
Early help to children and their families is often helpful when only one service is involved. However, when children’s needs are more complex and several services need to be involved to help them, these services do not always work well together to provide effective help to children.
Most children who need a social worker are properly referred for this service. However, there are a small number of children who experience increasing levels
of need and risk, and are not referred for a social work service quickly enough.
The council set up a new team in 2014 to manage referrals for children: the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH).
This team is doing some very good work. There is a range of professionals from different agencies within this team
and they work closely together to share information and make good decisions about who should be working with children and families to meet their needs.
Children who need immediate protection are seen quickly, and professionals work well together to make sure that any immediate risk is reduced. For those children who are in need, there is often a delay in seeing their social worker.
The quality of assessments and plans for children, including those in need of protection, those who are looked after and care leavers, are not good enough.
Managers do not monitor social workers and the progress of plans well enough, which means that there is sometimes a delay in things changing for the better for children and their families.
The vast majority of teenagers receive a good service from the adolescents team. They have detailed assessments of need and effective plans.
Younger children looked after are doing better at school, but most teenagers looked after are not supported to achieve good grades in their GCSEs.
Although improving, there is still some delay for children who are being adopted.
Managers have worked well to make sure that children who are at risk of child sexual exploitation receive a good service that reduces their risk.
When children have been missing, return home interviews help them to talk through any issues. However, not all children receive an interview.
There is a Children in Care Council, but managers and politicians need to do more to make sure they listen to the children and care leavers of this council.