Following an independent Ofsted inspection into the Worcestershire Children First Fostering agency, the service has been rated as Good overall.
During the 5-day inspection in February, inspectors recognised that good progress has been made in areas of the service identified for improvement in the last (and first) inspection in September 2021 and all requirements had been met.
Inspectors reported that the overall experiences of children and young people are Good and the level at which they are helped and protected has also been rated as Good.
The inspection noted the importance of recruiting a Registered Manager for the independent agency, but noted interim management and leadership had been effective and had led to the improvement.
Tina Russell, Chief Executive for Worcestershire Children First, said: “We are delighted that Ofsted have recognised the significant improvements in our fostering service and the positive impact it is having on the children and young people that are cared for. I am proud of the whole service and the leadership team.
“Ofsted’s recognition that “The responsible individual has taken the lead in overseeing the management and progression of the service. She is ambitious for the staff, children and kinship and foster carers, and has a clear vision for the future of the agency. She has a stable team of staff, who are also invested in progressing the service. Team managers have taken lead roles in areas that require development. Together, they continue to work to implement plans and drive up standards”. This reflects the hard work and commitment I have seen in practice and I would urge anyone thinking of fostering to join us in our Worcestershire family.”
Highlights in the report include:
- Children feel safe when living with their foster carers, and carers are proactive in keeping them safe.
- Children are happy and settled when living with their foster and kinship carers, as a result of this, children are now improving in areas where they have previously struggled.
- The agency places a strong emphasis on the voice of all children, and this is evidenced throughout the work that they do.
- Carers are overwhelmingly positive about the support they receive from fostering social workers. They feel that the range of mandatory and development and training enables them to meet the needs of the children who they care for and the supervisions that they receive are regular and reflective.
- Managers and fostering social workers respond well to identified risks for the children. They work in close partnership with other agencies to monitor and reduce risk.
- Carers support the children to experience a wide range of activities both with their foster families and with their peers in the wider community.
- Children’s health and well-being are further supported by a multi-disciplinary health team. They provide a range of services, including therapeutic support, directly to the children, carers and fostering social workers.
- The agency, in partnership with the virtual school, has good oversight of all the children’s educational attendance and achievements. The virtual school supports carers by providing regular guidance and training.
- Managers’ and staff’s responses to significant incidents and safeguarding concerns involving the children and carers are good. There are clear procedures that ensure that there is close partnership working with other professionals. Carers are supported during any allegations or investigations.
A copy of the full report is available to view, by visiting the OFSTED website.