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Inspectors recognise progress in helping children

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Progress continues to be made in improving services for vulnerable children and young people in Dudley, according to a letter from Ofsted.

Dudley Council has received feedback from the government watchdog following a monitoring visit earlier this month.

The letter says inspectors “did not see any children or young people at risk of significant harm” during their visit.

In a letter to Martin Samuels, strategic director for people at the council, Ofsted inspector Alison Smale said: “The local authority has made progress in improving services for children in need.”

The visit by inspectors was the seventh to have taken place since the council’s children’s services were rated inadequate by Ofsted in April 2016. 

It was the council’s final monitoring inspection by Ofsted, and a full inspection will take place later this year.

On this occasion, inspectors reviewed the council’s arrangements for children in need and children on child protection plans, including the effectiveness of management oversight and decision making in this area.

Ofsted read electronic case records and supervision records, as well as meeting with social workers and team managers. Inspectors also observed social work practice with children and families.

Ofsted praised leaders and senior managers in social care, saying “clear strategic plans” were in place to further improve services for children and families in Dudley.

Response teams offer “intensive support” to families and inspectors spoke of seeing positive examples where it had prevented children being taken into care.

The letter praised social workers for becoming “more confident and tenacious” and able to recognise neglect in most cases.

It identified improvements the council still had to make, primarily around high staff turnover leading to pressure on caseloads, but thanked senior management and staff for “positive engagement” through all seven monitoring visits.

Councillor Angus Lees, cabinet member for children's services, said: 

We are pleased with the findings of the monitoring visit, which demonstrate we are continuing to move in the right direction to transform services.
I’m particularly pleased it makes reference to the good work of our social workers and staff, who work tirelessly to help the children in our borough who need it the most.
The inspectors have identified points for improvement but there is not anything they have mentioned that has come as any great surprise to us. We are under no illusions we still have a way to go – but we are determined to get there.
There should be no doubt that since the inspection in 2016, we have worked extremely hard to make real changes.
We are determined this will be reflected during the full inspection by Ofsted later this year.

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