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Significant improvements made as Norfolk County Council rated ‘Good’

Inspectors said a “stable and determined children’s senior leadership team, endorsed by councillors, has been innovative, establishing a shared practice culture and new ways of working which have transformed services.”

16/01/23

Significant improvements made as Norfolk County Council rated ‘Good’

Inspectors have praised Children’s Services at Norfolk County Council, judging the authority as ‘Good’ in its first full inspection since 2017, when it was judged as ‘Requires Improvement’.

In its report published late last week, Ofsted said significant improvements had been made in services for children and their families, recognising “stable and determined leadership”, investment in services, and “compassionate, warm and committed workers and carers.”

Inspectors praised children and young people’s participation, saying their “voices, wishes and feelings shine brightly” in case records, describing it as a strength of the authority.

Ofsted said that adoption services remained a strength, independent reviewing officers are “strong advocates for children” and planning and decision making for babies needing early protection was a “particular strength.”

They also highlighted the “effective support” of the Targeted Youth Support Service, in diverting children away from criminal exploitation and the skilful work of the social workers taking calls where there were concerns about children (known as the Children’s Advice and Duty Services).

Inspectors also described the Executive Director of Children’s Services as an “exemplary leader” and recognised the strength of partnership working in the county.

However, they said further improvement was needed in the response to children aged 16 and 17 who present as homeless; the recognition and response to neglect, and the support and decision-making for children placed with family and friends.

Known as an Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services (ILACS), the two-week inspection – which took place in November last year – looked at all services the council offered to children and young people, including early help and prevention, to more specialist support for families with the greatest needs.

“Significant improvements have been made in services for children and families since the last inspection in 2017,” inspectors said.

“A stable and determined children’s senior leadership team, endorsed by councillors, has been innovative, establishing a shared practice culture and new ways of working which have transformed services.”

Inspectors said that “the vast majority of children in Norfolk receive high quality services and have good relationships with their social workers, which is leading to continued improvements in their circumstances.”

Ofsted described the support offered to care leavers as demonstrating “exemplary practice” and said children in care are provided with “exceptional services.”

Sara Tough, Executive Director of Children’s Services at Norfolk County Council, said the report reflected the efforts of all staff and highlighted the “impressive” way improvements have been made at a time when public services are rebounding from the pandemic and dealing with significant pressure.

“Ofsted recognised our commitment to participation, our efforts to listen to children and young people and the strength of our social work practice, which is based on developing strong and effective relationships with children, families and our partners.

“We are ambitious for every child and young person and will continue to build on this positive inspection outcome, to help make Norfolk a county where all children and young people can flourish.”

Cllr John Fisher, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services at Norfolk County Council, said:

“Ofsted has recognised the huge progress we have made in recent years, which is testament to the tremendous effort of all those working across the service.

“As a council we have continued to invest in children’s social care, despite the financial pressures faced by all local authorities. This has helped us to transform services so that we can help families earlier and reduce the number of children needing to come into care. When children do come into our care, inspectors have found that our services are exceptional, that we understand our children, listen to their wishes and feelings and provide them with a strong range of support.

“Our focus now is to continue to build on the exemplary areas of practice, so that all of our services for children and families are outstanding.”

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