Criticised children's services department rated as 'adequate' by OfstedBy Laura Herbert
January 08, 2013
Wokingham's once inadequate child protection service is keeping children and young people safe, according to Ofsted.
A report by Government inspectors published last month, now rates safeguarding services at Wokingham Borough Council as ‘adequate’.
It added that the council and other organisations work well together to improve the way they recognise children and young people at risk of harm, and act quickly to protect them.
In 2009, the department was rated by Ofsted as ‘inadequate.’
Five inspectors visited the council for 10 days at the end of November and scrutinised case files, observed practice, spoke to professionals, social workers and children, young people and their families.
Inspectors noted a range of services and support are quickly made available to help children and their families, which helps parents and carers improve the way they look after their children.
The report found children’s centres across the borough quickly identify families in difficulty, and parents who spoke to inspectors found centre staff friendly and their help very useful.
Inspectors highlighted areas that need attention, stating changes in staffing during the past two years had affected the speed of improvements.
But, they acknowledged improvements have been made in performance management and using best practice from other authorities.
They also highlighted the council’s commitment to ensuring children are safe from harm.
Following the visit, inspectors said the council must improve the ways the views of young people are recorded and heard and bosses must set up the terms of reference and membership of the new children’s partnership.
This will be a sub group of the council’s health and well being board, which must be set up by April 1.
Pauline Maddison, interim director of children’s services, said: “We’d already recognised our engagement and consultation with all children and young people in the borough needed to be improved.
“Before Ofsted’s visit we’d started work to address this including looking at good practice at other local authorities to see if we could do the same here in Wokingham.
“We look forward to developing a model for engaging with children and young people during the coming months.”
Councillor Charlotte Haitham Taylor, executive member for children’s services, added: “This is a fair report and shows children in the borough are safe, and we provide the right support when and where it’s needed, quickly and effectively.
“It shows we’re in a strong position to continue and accelerate our overall improvements for the benefit of those children and families who need our help.
“I’d like to thank all the professionals at our partner organisations, and the parents, carers, families and young people who gave up their time during this inspection and help give Ofsted a fair picture of the safeguarding services here in the borough.”