By Tony Earnshaw Local Democracy Reporter
CHILDREN’S services in Kirklees are continuing to improve, say inspectors from the education and children’s watchdog Ofsted.
It is good news for Kirklees Council, which two years ago received a damning inspection report that led to government intervention.
Following a two-day monitoring visit on December 4 and 5, the authority was found to have made “significant progress”.
In their report, inspectors Rachel Holden and Matt Reed noted: “Improvement is gathering pace and there is now increasing focus on quality as well as ensuring that statutory compliance is met.”
Their review covered the assessment of risk, information sharing, children being seen alone, the quality of social work practice (including child protection plans), and management decision-making, oversight and supervision.
The workforce was found to be stable and workers’ morale was good.
In her letter to Steve Walker, interim director of children’s services at the council, Ms Holden wrote: “There has been a significant improvement since the last monitoring visit in November 2017, in relation to the initial response to children who need help and protection.
“In the cases seen, children are safe, and immediate risks are appropriately assessed using a multi-agency approach.
“Strengthened processes and effective management oversight is ensuring robust decision-making.
“This is monitored routinely and challenged appropriately.
“Assessment and plans are improved, with more assessments that better identify and evaluate risk and consider the experiences of children.
“The early help offer is still embedding and it is too soon to see its overall effectiveness, but inspectors saw evidence that children and families were receiving support based on their identified needs.”
She added that Kirklees is aware there is still more to do to ensure consistency and quality improves in cases where children need a social work assessment, and in ensuring children’s records were kept up to date.
In a small number of cases, some children did not receive an assessment of needs. Training has commenced to support improvements.