Cheshire East Council has been praised by two government inspectors over improvements to its children’s social care service.
The Ofsted focused visit took place over two days at the end of October and found that:
· Social workers know the children in care very well and meet with them regularly;
· Managers and staff have a strengthened focus on getting children and young people into their permanent homes earlier
· Cheshire East is more focused on identifying potential carers within children’s families;
· There is increased confidence from the courts in social workers’ practice;
· Children are well-supported with their education through a virtual schools team; and
· The council has very positive working relationships with neighbouring authorities
The visit was not a full Ofsted inspection but was a follow-up to the last full visit from inspectors in 2015.
The two-day visit included case discussions with social workers, meetings with senior managers and reviewing officers and an audit of recent case records. The council’s performance management and quality assurance information was also evaluated.
Cheshire East currently has more than 500 cared for children and young people. The council’s responsibilities range from producing effective care plans, assessing children’s needs, identifying carers and assessing their suitability through to liaising with the courts over appropriate supervision and parental visiting rights.
Councillor Jos Saunders, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for children and families, said: “We know that our work in this area continues and we certainly won’t be resting on our laurels but it’s also important to celebrate successes, as well. This report is a welcome boost to the many dedicated staff working in our cared for children services.
“A key area of improvement for us has been our partnership working, particularly with neighbouring authorities. This has led to the creation of a new collaborative fostering agency ‘Foster4’, which is already providing more homes for our children and young people.
“The inspectors also recognised that we are doing some excellent work providing young people with a more permanent caring and stable home environment – and that’s something I am especially proud of.”