Council’s commitment to children in need and their families praised by Ofsted

Children in need and their families are well supported by Oxfordshire County Council according to findings from Ofsted, published today (28 February).

Child-centred practice is used by social workers to understand and engage with young people. Ofsted describes this as a ‘powerful methodology’ to help supervisors to better understand the child’s lived experience.

Ofsted describe Oxfordshire County Council as ‘responding appropriately’ to the challenge of meeting increased demand for children services, with the planned introduction of a new service delivery model.

In line with national trends, Oxfordshire has seen an 80 per cent rise in the numbers of children coming into care between 2011 to 2019. There are now 780 children in care compared to 425 in 2011.

Despite this increase in demand, the council continues to provide a good quality of service which has been endorsed by Ofsted in its report. It has committed extra money to increase the number of social workers who work with both children in need and children on child protection plans.

Ofsted praises the council’s commitment to the ‘whole-family approach’, designed to bring families together and reduce the number of young people on child protection plans and coming into care.

This new model of social work practice will be introduced in June 2020. It will include integrated teams, centred around individual families in need, and working alongside experts providing specialist mental health, drugs and alcohol, and domestic abuse services.

Ofsted observes: ‘The local authority is introducing a family safeguarding model which includes the recruitment of additional social workers to meet increased demand and expand the capacity of local family safeguarding teams.’

‘Since the last inspection April 2018, the local authority has improved quality of planning for unborn children…’ Inspectors observed: ‘disabled children in Oxfordshire receive good quality services’.

There are some areas of social work practice identified as requiring further improvement, such as attendance of partners, and children’s participation, at child protection conferences and reviews.

Ofsted is aware of the measures being taken by the council to make the necessary changes and improvements and has endorsed these. The council is not complacent and acknowledges the areas for improvement identified by inspectors.

County Councillor Steve Harrod, Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services, said: “We strive for excellence in our education and support of children and young people.

“I am encouraged that Ofsted recognises this commitment and the innovations we are putting in place, such as the whole-family approach.

“We are already looking at innovative ways to involve parents, carers and children, working together to make sure that young people get the support they want and need to succeed.

“We are seeking to recruit around 30 new social workers. This is part of our determination to improve the support and opportunities we provide for all young people and make sure they have the best start in life.”

If you are qualified social worker and interested in working for Oxfordshire County Council, email: workforus@oxfordshire.gov.uk