A master plan has been drawn up to help Dudley Council become an “outstanding” local authority for vulnerable youngsters and children in care.
Ambitious council bosses want the local authority to achieve the Ofsted gold standard.
If successful, it will represent a massive and almost unprecedented turnaround from the “inadequate” rating the council received from Ofsted following an inspection of children’s care services in 2016.
The authority has been on an improvement journey ever since – and a follow-up inspection at the end of last year saw the council move up a notch on the ladder.
It is now rated as “requires improvement to be good” overall – despite inspectors rating two of the three areas they looked at as “good”.
A report due to go before the council’s ruling cabinet on February 11 says only three other councils nationally have made greater progress from an “inadequate” rating.
Councillors will be asked to approve a medium-term improvement plan and to note an operational action plan drafted by officers to make further strides. It includes plans to bring the number of agency social workers employed by the authority down and in line with the national average.
The report says: “Analysis of the findings indicates that Dudley is on the cusp of securing a ‘good’ outcome and can reasonably aspire towards ‘outstanding’”.
Councillor Sue Ridney, cabinet member for children and young people, said:
Our recent Ofsted report confirmed the enormous improvements that have been made since our children’s care services were rated as ‘inadequate’ back in 2016.
It is now imperative that we take clear strategic and operational steps without delay to secure the momentum of improvement.
The medium term improvement plan is designed to ensure an immediate focus on children’s services improvements, including targeted action on the areas identified by Ofsted in 2018.
It will go alongside a strategic plan starting this autumn working with our partners to achieve ‘outstanding’ status.
We realise we are only at the start of the journey and we have a long way to go – but we are determined to get there.”
The cabinet meets at Dudley Council House from 6pm on February 11. Members of the public are welcome to attend.