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OFSTED: Children’s Services meeting bare minimum

by awitherick on 24 November, 2010

Late last week OFSTED published its judgements following the inspection of Hertfordshire Children’s Services. The judgement on the council’s department was found to be “adequate”. This, as the report states, means the council is reaching the minimum standards.

The detailed report sets out some immediate changes that the council must make. These include:

    Hertfordshire NHS providers of accident and emergency and urgent care services should ensure notifications of all attendances by children and young people are notified as appropriate to either the health visitor or school nurse.
    Hertfordshire County Council and Hertfordshire NHS providers of accident, emergency and urgent care services should ensure information regarding children and young people with a child protection plan is up-to-date, securely transferred and stored electronically.
    Hertfordshire County Council should ensure supervision of social work staff is improved to address development of practice as well as case direction.
    Hertfordshire County Council should ensure case conference reports and reviews are shared with children, young people, parents and carers in a more timely manner thus allowing them to have sufficient time to prepare their response and contribution.

They also have several targets that must be reached within 3 months and others within 6.

The most important changes are those that involve communication. The report clearly sets out that the leadership and management have the right idea and vision of where Children’s Services must be as a service and what must be done to ensure the safety and well-being of the children in the county. The problem is that this is not translating to the front line, or to the council’s partners, and the vision is being lost somewhere in the middle management of the council.

Chris White, Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition on Herts County Council, said: ‘The OFSTED report does praise the senior managers. There are, however, some danger areas for the council. These need urgent scrutiny and we will demand that special working groups are set up to ensure that the good management of the service is translated to the frontline. Ultimately it is the point of delievery that really matters to children and their families.

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