Inspectors have praised Peterborough City Council for creating the conditions for the city’s children’s services ‘to thrive’.
The council is piloting a new approach called Family Safeguarding, which offers a whole family approach, enabling families to address their difficulties and keep their children safe.
Launched earlier this year, the approach has seen a reduction in the number of children on child protection plans from 280 in August 2017 to 230 in May 2018.
A three week Ofsted inspection described the new service as ‘good’ and said it had ‘improved significantly’ since the last inspection three years ago.
The Family Safeguarding approach brings practitioners who are expert in working with adults who have emotional or mental health difficulties, substance abuse problems or who are in domestically abusive relationships together with children’s social work teams.
In a letter sent at the end of July, the Ofsted inspectors said there was ‘a stable and effective senior leadership team which has driven improvement at pace,’ with a ‘strong learning culture’.
The inspectors also said that ‘children’s lived experiences are at the centre of practice and, as a result, they benefit from good, timely decision making. The participation of, and direct work with, children and families are key strengths.’
Council-run children’s services, schools, health services, police and community services work well together, according to Ofsted, which helps to support children and families and prevent difficulties from becoming more serious.
‘Children and families benefit from a good early help offer, which is helping to prevent the need for statutory interventions,’ the inspectors noted.
‘Children’s circumstances are improving through timely, intensive support provided for parents whose capacity for change is carefully tracked through multi-professional supervision,’ the letter continued.
‘Children build trusting relationships with their social workers through ongoing direct work that helps their parents and professionals understand their lived experiences.’
The inspectors also praised the council’s decision to work with the children’s charity, TACT, which operates fostering and adoption services.
Ofsted recommended a number of areas for improvement including the use of chronologies to underpin children’s assessments, the quality of information given to care leavers about their rights and entitlements, and consistency of management oversight.
Wendi Ogle-Welbourn, executive director for people and communities at Peterborough City Council, said: ‘Over the last three years there have been rapid changes and sustained improvements made within the department and we are pleased these have been recognised by Ofsted inspectors.
‘This has been achieved because there has been strong political support and a children’s services workforce who are committed to making a positive difference to lives of children and families.’
Cllr Sam Smith, cabinet member for children’s services, said: ‘I’m delighted that the overall effectiveness of children’s services has been rated as good by Ofsted.
‘To have a independent inspectors recognise that children’s needs are prioritised, that corporate decision-making is having a positive impact on children and that we create the conditions for social work practice to thrive makes me very proud.’