Ofsted praises council support for children and families

THE LIVES of the most vulnerable children in East Sussex are being improved by ‘consistently strong and effective’ support, an Ofsted inspection has found.

The help, protection and care children and young people are receiving from East Sussex County Council earned the authority an overall ‘good’ rating, while inspectors found the experiences and progress of children in care to be ‘outstanding’.

The inspectors praised the council for the way it has responded to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the growing numbers of children with complex needs who require help, and the increasing number of families experiencing financial hardship.

The report, published on Tuesday, February 6, said when children or families in East Sussex need help it is provided as soon as possible with social workers and other professionals taking actions to make children at risk safer.

The dedication and efforts of social workers was also praised by inspectors who noted that they get to know the children in their care well, earning their trust, and work with specialist services to make a “big difference to children’s lives”.

Cllr Bob Bowdler, lead member for children and families, said: “The work that our children services department do is often extremely complex “

“Our social workers and support staff do an amazing job day in, day out, despite the growing pressures the service faces, and I am delighted that their efforts have been recognised by Ofsted inspectors.”

As well as praise for officers, inspectors found that leaders in the council wanted to do the best for children and families with support for vulnerable children being a priority.  As a result, the report said, social workers and personal advisers feel valued and supported and love working in East Sussex.

While the report was positive, it did highlight areas where inspectors felt some improvements could be made including improving the quality of plans for children and care leavers so they are specific and measurable, better record keeping for management oversight and improved oversight of responses to children experiencing neglect and entering into private fostering arrangements.

Cllr Bowdler added: “Despite the positive comments and good rating in the latest inspection, we will not rest on our laurels and will be turning our attention to the areas where Ofsted has highlighted areas for possible improvement to ensure that every child in East Sussex receives the best care possible.”

The full Ofsted report can be viewed at 50239111 (ofsted.gov.uk)

A previous Ofsted inspection, carried out in 2018, rated the service Outstanding.