Wiltshire Council given 'Good' rating for its children's services“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.”
- 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, 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.
It has taken Wiltshire Council a good few years to reach such a successful outcome. In 2012 Ofsted inspectors were very critical - especially over the monitoring of children at risk and an urgent improvement notice was issued by the government.
The following year the Council announced 41 ways in which they had to improve the care of vulnerable children.
Councillor Laura Mayes was the cabinet member for children’s services during the inspection: “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.”