This week we got the very welcome news that Ofsted has rated our children’s social care services as ‘good’ for the first time.
This is a fantastic achievement against a backdrop of decreasing budgets and increasing challenges.
At our last inspection in 2015 our children’s social care services were rated ‘requires improvement’. Since then the team have worked tirelessly to improve the service, and I am delighted that this has been recognised by Ofsted.
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The three-week inspection covered our support for vulnerable children and families, how we look after children in care, as well as how we support young people leaving care.
Ofsted found many positive things, including that we provide prompt and appropriate help, that we have joined-up approach and that we aim to build meaningful relationships with families. Achieving a ‘good’ rating is an even more significant when you consider the challenges our social workers and other members of the team face every day. Life is difficult for many families, and the support needs of vulnerable children are becoming more complex, at the same time as local authority resources and budgets are being squeezed to breaking point.
Just one example of changes we have made is to stop using agency social workers. This not only saves money but helps bring continuity and stability for families and young people, and has boosted morale among social workers, which was noted as high by Ofsted. We have also focused on bringing our foster carers back ‘in house’, ensuring that they receive a high quality of support.
As chair of children, young people and skills committee, I was also interviewed by the inspectors. I’m pleased that Ofsted recognised the strong political commitment to our social care services for young people, as improving services and outcomes for children has been a key focus for me. There is still more to be done, and I know that our extremely committed social worker teams will continue to work hard and provide the very best service for our young people in the city. We all should be proud of this fantastic achievement.
Cllr Daniel Chapman is Labour’s lead member for children, young people and skills on Brighton and Hove City Council.