THE hard work and dedication of officers has been praised by council leaders following a recent Ofsted inspection into the authority’s work with vulnerable children.
Services in East Sussex which safeguard children at risk and support and plan for those in care were judged to be ‘good’ following a rigorous three week inspection.
The partnership work of the Local Safeguarding Children Board was also judged to be ‘good’.
Cabinet members were told that this is the first time Ofsted has inspected child protection, services for looked after children and care leavers and adoption services at the same time.
“We are delighted to see that the hard work of our children’s services department has been recognised in this report,” said Cllr Sylvia Tidy, lead member for children and families. “The rating is testament to the dedication of our officers who work with some of the most vulnerable children in the county.”
The inspection team scrutinised work by social care and early help staff, as well as partnerships with other agencies to ensure that children are protected. Case files were studied, inspectors watched how staff worked with families and each other, and they spoke to the children and young people about the help and care they were given.
Despite tougher rules introduced by the watchdog, the county council was judged to be offering children and young people the right level of care, support and protection and was the only authority in the country to receive an ‘outstanding’ for any of its services having been given the highest rating for its adoption services.
The positive report, which was published in March, rated the council’s adoption services as ‘outstanding’ highlighting the speed at which children in care are placed with suitable adoptive families, the innovative ways adoption has been promoted and the high level of support offered to adoptive families.
Inspectors were particularly impressed with the council’s work on early help services which target vulnerable families, the speed at which children at risk are identified and supported and the high level of support offered to adoptive families.
Cllr Tidy added: “While the overall picture is extremely positive, we are aware of areas that require improvement and are already working hard to address these. In fact, improvements were already being made in some areas before the inspection took place.”
The report by Ofsted recommended the county council did more to ensure care leavers knew their rights and entitlements and supported them to learn independence skills. All concerns raised are issues that are already being addressed by the local authority.
Leadership, management and governance, services for children who need help and protection and services for children looked after and achieving permanence were all rated ‘good’.
The full Ofsted report can be viewed at www.ofsted.gov.uk/local-authorities/east-sussex