Child protection systems solid and robust

Published: Monday 30th July 12

Social workers in Wandsworth are doing a good job of protecting vulnerable children and young people, according to an official watchdog report.

A detailed investigation by Government inspectors found that child protection systems in Wandsworth are solid and robust in safeguarding young people from abuse, harm and neglect.

The report, by children's services watchdog Ofsted, said that social workers in the borough are well trained, highly committed, well-supervised, properly resourced and have manageable workloads.

They said that staff in all agencies in Wandsworth, including schools, the NHS, the police and probation service communicated with each other effectively and ensured that concerns about young peoples' welfare were shared.

The inspectors also praised the council's work in looking after children and young people in care. They found that foster carers had good support and that young adults leaving the care system were well provided for.

And they commended the work being done to ensure that young people in care have a strong voice in
shaping their futures.

They concluded: "The council has an outstanding history of providing sustained and high quality services for children and young people supported by very good partnership working and commissioning practice."

"The overall effectiveness of safeguarding services is good........Capacity for improvement is outstanding. Innovation, ambition and aspiration for high quality services are supported by a clear focus on improving outcomes".

Cabinet member for young people Kathy Tracey said: "Protecting children from neglect and danger and looking after vulnerable youngsters who are in care are two of the most important jobs that a local authority performs. I am very pleased that the inspectors have recognised and commended the very good work that is being carried out locally."

The inspectors also determined: "Partnerships between agencies are strong and mature with a robust focus on improving outcomes for children and young people in all aspects of their safeguarding and child protection work.

"There are rigorous checks to monitor the suitability of staff who work with children and young people. Effective training is provided about safe recruitment to community and faith groups.

"Where safeguarding concerns about children and young people are identified, effective and coordinated work is undertaken in a timely way, facilitated by strong partnerships established with schools, the police, the voluntary and community sector, adult services and faith-based organisations.

"There is effective use of the monthly multi-agency risk management panel to highlight children and young people who are presenting as being of high risk or concern.... There are clear and agreed procedures for step up and step down processes which promote continuity for families and children.

"Effective multi-agency arrangements are in place to identify and support children who go missing from home or education. When children return, interviews are conducted with them by trained professionals and information is used to reduce the likelihood of further episodest. The links between missing young people and the risk of sexual exploitation are understood and there is good expertise in this area.

"There is a coordinated multi-agency approach to addressing and reducing gangs and gun crime which includes diverting young people. Police liaison with local schools is particularly strong.

"There is good intelligence and awareness of bullying, homophobia, e-safety and sexual exploitation. The young people who met inspectors could explain clearly how the targeted support they were having was helping them avoid risky behaviours and in the words of one young person 'workers do not judge and they get us back on track'.

"Priorities are based on a thorough understanding of the population and its needs. Needs are identified accurately, areas for development are well known and resources are targeted effectively.

"In the context of budget reductions and the need to achieve savings, services to ensure the safeguarding and improvement of outcomes for children and young people have been protected.

"Elected members are knowledgeable about and highly committed to the borough's vulnerable families and children and young people. Overall, elected members provide both good support and robust scrutiny to the delivery of services for children, young people and their families.

"There is excellent and 'routine' engagement with children and young people and other service users. There are many examples of how their views are listened to and of how their feedback has been used to drive service improvement.

"Leadership and management of services for looked after children and young people are outstanding. Managers and social workers are clear about the priorities for, and the challenges facing, in improving services for looked after children.

"The complaints process is seen by the council as a positive mechanism enabling children and parents to raise their concerns and express their views. The outcomes and information from complaints is analysed and emerging themes are used effectively to inform learning and to improve practice and service delivery. Most complainants were satisfied with the response to their complaint."

The full report is available to read at www.ofsted.gov.uk/local-authorities/wandsworth

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