OFSTED praise for Children’s Services

Published Monday, 30th March 2020

Government inspectors have praised the quality of local authority services for children in need and children subject to Child Protection Plans in Hartlepool

OFSTED carried out a focused visit to Hartlepool Borough Council’s Children’s Services Department on March 4th and 5th and looked at a range of evidence.

In a letter to the authority, inspector Lisa Summers says the quality and impact of social work practice is effective and has continued to improve since the last inspection in July 2018 – despite increasing demands on frontline services.

She acknowledges the contributions of both senior managers and social workers, and says that as a result of their work many children’s lives are improving.

Councillor Leisa Smith, Chair of the Council’s Children’s Services Committee, said: “The pressures faced by Children’s Services are well documented, and that is why the outcome of this inspection is so impressive.

“The inspectors have highlighted numerous instances of excellent practice, praising both senior managers and frontline social workers in the process.

“I would like to thank everyone for their dedication and commitment to children and families in Hartlepool, it is reassuring to know that they are in such good hands."

Key findings of the inspection include:

  • Effective work between Hartlepool Borough Council staff and partner agencies and services, enabling children and families to easily access timely help and support.
  • In relation to domestic abuse, dedicated family support workers and the Intensive Response Team (IRT) help deliver bespoke packages of support.
  • Increased investment in additional workforce capacity.
  • Social workers remain, wherever possible, with a family and this “one worker” model means families do not have to tell their stories multiple times.
  • Senior managers consider the workforce to be their greatest asset.
  • High-quality practice is actively promoted, celebrated and shared.
  • Social workers are overwhelmingly positive about working in Hartlepool, reporting that they feel valued and supported.
  • Senior managers have a clear understanding of the quality of frontline practice.

The inspectors identified two areas for improvement – the frequency of formal supervisions to match the level of risk to children and the timeliness of escalation decisions.