Dedicated domestic abuse service ‘Reach Out’ praised by Ofsted
An Ofsted inspection of Redbridge's Children's Services has found its front door services are ‘high-quality’ and have developed further since being rated as Outstanding by Ofsted in 2019, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Redbridge Council’s front door services have been praised by a focused visit from Ofsted.
“In 2019, inspectors described front door services as 'Outstanding' and a ‘model of efficiency and excellence’. Those services included screening and assessment, the emergency duty team and the early help triage team. Since then, senior managers have developed services, including the domestic abuse Reach Out service and single contact points for contextual safeguarding and children's mental health,” the report said.
Inspectors during a focused visit on 27 and 28 April said: “This visit confirmed that the front door has continued to provide a high-quality service, an impressive achievement given the pressures of the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Inspectors praised the fact that the response to contacts and referrals at the front door is highly effective, and that contacts are responded to promptly by screening officers, who check the information and update children's records.
They said managerial oversight is a significant strength, and that managers immediately review information coming in about children, set timescales for responding and provide clear direction about what actions need to take place.
Consistent application of the local authority's multi-agency threshold document ensures that children and families who need help are promptly identified and supported through the Families Together Hub (FTH) and the wide range of coordinated early intervention services available in Redbridge.
Once professionals identify concerns about domestic abuse, the response is very strong, inspectors said. Dedicated workers based at the front door carry out further work whenever there is a contact which raises concerns of this nature.
Inspectors saw exceptional work from the Reach Out service, which was established during the three COVID-19 lockdowns to help families affected by domestic abuse.
Ofsted did, however, say that there are issues about the attendance of partner agencies at multi-agency strategy meetings. They said this could be improved by working further with partner agencies and the Metropolitan Police, as well as recording the decision-making and monitoring of progress when advice is given by the front door to other agencies that they need to complete a written multiagency referral form (MARF).
Cllr Mark Santos, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "During the pandemic, we pledged that we would do everything we could to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities. These recent findings from Ofsted show we did precisely that, despite the enormous pressures we faced during that period. That is a testament to the sheer hard work and professionalism of our staff, who have stopped at nothing to continue delivering an outstanding service.
"Our skilled, talented, and committed colleagues have not compromised in terms of the support they provide. A range of services also pitched in to support when required. Our staff should all be immensely proud of their achievement. I certainly am."
“Our Children's Services team work tirelessly to ensure our children get the best possible start in life,” Cllr Jas Athwal, Leader of Redbridge Council, said. “They deserve a great deal of credit for ensuring some of our most vulnerable children and young people continued to receive outstanding support throughout the pandemic. I'm very proud of what they have achieved."
Read the full report: https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/provider/44/80512
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