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WCF praised by OFSTED for improvements shown in Children’s Services

Worcestershire Children First Logo Published Monday, 23rd August 2021

Worcestershire Children First has been praised for the improvements shown in Children’s Services.

Her Majesty’s Inspectors for Ofsted visited Worcestershire County Council children’s services last month to review the quality of practice at the Family Front Door. (FFD)

In a letter published today, Inspectors reported headline findings that “The local authority has made strong progress in improving the quality of practice for children and families in receipt of services at its ‘Family Front Door’ since the inspection in June 2019. 

Leaders have established a positive culture of commitment to continuous improvement across this service area, supported by particularly strong quality assurance arrangements. The early help partnership is now well engaged in the delivery of services, and most schools in Worcestershire have an early help offer, bespoke to the needs of their community.”

The two week inspection focused on “the Family Front Door” and the report goes on to say: 

Children and families in Worcestershire benefit from a swift and proportionate response to new contacts with prompt analysis, leading to appropriate management sign off and seamless referral and transitional arrangements to ensure that children and families experience minimal delay within the Family Front Door so that children gain the right service at the right time.”

Social work assessments were described as “thorough and proportionate” and management  oversight as “well considered and appropriately informing next steps.”

In relation to the delivery of service to vulnerable children during the Covid Pandemic inspectors said “The local authority and wider partnership have planned and delivered a well-coordinated and effective response to the pandemic and Social workers have been well supported during COVID-19 and enabled to work safely and effectively”. 

Tina Russell, Chief Executive of Worcestershire Children First, said: “The Ofsted findings give an assurance to the public and our partners in quality of work undertaken at our Family Front Door to identify, assess and plan for children in need of support and those at risk of harm in Worcestershire.”

Tina added: “I’m really pleased that the developments in Early Help and in particular the early help offer our schools have committed to creating since our last inspection was recognised in this visit. The review of FFD undertaken by Ofsted was thorough with many many cases and staff being interviewed. This level of high quality work isn’t achieved easily, it takes dedication and commitment from all the people all the time. Throughout the pandemic work load pressures at FFD have doubled as families have sought support from social care when other services haven’t been so easily available. Our FFD have worked as a team with Early Help staff, students, social workers and business support coming together to find ways to continually meet demand to ensure children and young people get the support and the protection they need. Despite this significant rise in demand we have still continued our development work in Get Safe and delivered initiatives to provide additional support through our Safeguarding Babies and Back to School projects. I am so very very proud of the staff, managers and partners who’s work this report reflects.”

Councillor Andy Roberts, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “I am delighted that Ofsted have recognised that we have been able to demonstrate a continued improvement in the way children’s services are delivered through our wholly owned council company, Worcestershire Children First. Children and young people are at the heart of the company and we’re looking forward to continuing to help children in Worcestershire lead happy and healthy lives and go on to reach their full potential.”

The report is available to view on the OFSTED website.