Watchdogs return to assess latest state of Norfolk’s children’s services department
Watchdogs have returned to assess the quality of services provided to vulnerable young people in Norfolk.
Inspectors from Ofsted paid their second visit of 2017 to Norfolk County Council's children's services department recently - with their monitoring report due to be published next month.
In March, watchdogs published a report after a visit to Great Yarmouth offices and highlighted 'decisive action' which had been taken to improve a service twice rated as 'inadequate'.
Areas of significant improvement were highlighted in that report, including that performance management and quality assurance - key criticisms from Ofsted's previous visit - had been 'significantly strengthened'.
But they said it remained too early to see a consistent impact on the frontline and the service most children and young people receive was 'not yet good enough'.
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The inspectors visited King's Lynn this time and bosses at County Hall say they have been taking action to give social workers more time with families, to ensure consistently good practice and to improve services for older looked after children and those on the edge of care.
A previously delayed partnership with Barnardo's has now been launched. The charity will manage a service called New Directions, named by children and young people.
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Using council staff, it will provide what County Hall describes as 'intensive support to families and help return children home from care, wherever this is safe and in their best interests'.
The council says it is also developing a new caseload policy to ensure social workers have manageable caseloads, is transferring court work away from Looked After Children teams earlier so family intervention teams can spend more time working with families and is moving to smaller teams of social workers, so managers can better understand and support staff.
Penny Carpenter, children's services committee chairman, said: 'Recent feedback from Ofsted has been encouraging but we need to keep up the momentum so every child in the county receives the good service they deserve.
'Strengthening management in social work teams and ensuring social workers have manageable caseloads, which take into account the complexity of their work, will galvanise further improvement.'