“Children increasingly receive the help and support they need from the right people at the right time.”
That’s the verdict of Ofsted inspectors who visited Wiltshire Council recently to review children’s social care services.
The council has been given a “Good” rating for all areas following the inspection in June – the only local authority in the south west to achieve this.
In the report Ofsted notes: “The local authority has improved its services for children and offers a consistently good response to families and children in need of help and protection.”
The report notes:
- Senior leaders and frontline practitioners are driven by a determination to improve the life chances of children in Wiltshire
- Children in care and care leavers receive a good service in Wiltshire
- Responses to children from domestic abuse are effective and decisive action taken by social workers to protect children when required
- Social workers have manageable workloads following significant investment to increase numbers
- Social workers are given the time they need to work purposefully with families and children
- The arrangements for finding children adoptive parents is a strength and children in Wiltshire are waiting less time than ever to move in with their adoptive family
The report praises partnership working including the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) and the Families and Children’s Transformation (FACT) programme. It states the relationship with the police has progressed significantly in terms of community support for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC), and a shared vigilance of the threat of county lines and exploitation in the county.
Some of the points required to further improve the service include raising awareness of private fostering in the local community, the impact of services on children’s health and education when they are in care, and the availability of suitable placements when children first come into care.
Laura Mayes, the cabinet member for children’s services during the inspection, said: “This report shows the determination and commitment of staff to improving children’s lives in Wiltshire.
“We were confident the service was in good shape but to have it confirmed independently and so positively is hugely satisfying.
“We are never complacent though, and we will always strive to do more but it is heartening to see the hard work has made a real difference to children and young people’s lives for the better.”
Terence Herbert, executive director for children and education at Wiltshire Council praised staff for the clear vision and dedication which has made a difference to young people’s lives.
He said: “I would like to say thank you to our hardworking staff who demonstrate tremendous commitment to ensuring our children and families are given the support to succeed.”
“Getting the basics right is fundamental and provides a solid platform for our work. The investment we have made in good practice and social work values has led to better lives for children and families. That is what we’re here to do and I’m pleased that this has been recognised by Ofsted. We will continue to be a progressive, supportive and learning organisation.
“There are some actions to further improve which we welcome, and we’re already addressing these and we will always remain focussed and dedicated to doing the best for our children and families in Wiltshire.”
The report is available to view at https://files.api.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/50094565