Medway's Children’s Services has made ‘significant progress’ in the support and care provided to older children and care leavers.
The service was judged inadequate by Ofsted in August 2019. However, the latest monitoring visit, which was held on 11 and 12 May, recognised that senior leaders continue to ‘focus purposefully’ on Medway’s improvement journey and remain determined to create ‘sustainable improved services’ for care leavers and older children in care.
Ofsted inspectors spoke with young people in care and care leavers, personal advisers, social workers, managers and leaders. Young people spoke about the positive help and support they receive from their personal advisers and social workers, with one care leaver stating: “She is the mum I never had.”
The latest feedback recognised our commitment to improving the experiences of young people who are or have been in the care system to give them the best chance of success in their adult life. Ofsted also found that Medway’s care leavers exceed the national average when it comes to accessing education, training and employment.
Ofsted recognised that social workers and personal advisers are committed to supporting young people and giving them an adult who they can trust and rely on. Personal advisers were also commended on the support they provide to young people in custody, helping towards a smooth transition when their prison sentence comes to an end.
Support continues past 16-years
A 16-plus service has also been formed and a care-leaver hub has opened, providing a safe place for young people to socialise and access support from the 16-plus workers. The 16-plus service is working on plans to extend the opening hours beyond normal office hours so those in full-time education or training can also benefit from it.
Committed to supporting children in care
In the latest feedback, Ofsted acknowledged our ‘well-organised’ corporate parenting board which ‘carefully listens’ to the views of the Children in Care Council. The letter also refers to Medway’s delivery board which works to create greater opportunities and experiences for care leavers, and recognised the improved workforce stability as well as the increased capacity in the 16-plus service which has helped lower caseloads.
Areas for continued focus
Inspectors recognised that the leadership team have an accurate understanding of the work needed to drive improvements and continue to focus on the areas that need further development including:
- Transition planning for older children in care for preparation of living more independently.
- The quality of written safety plans.
- The support to care leavers aged 21 plus.
- The effectiveness of pathway plans in identifying the impact of trauma on young people’s emotional needs.
- Mental health support available for care leavers and older children.
- Sufficiency and choice of accommodation for young people with the most complex needs.
Continuing to improve our Children's Services
Cllr Josie Iles, Medway’s Lead Member for Children’s Services, said: “I am pleased the latest monitoring visit recognises the collective continued efforts to improve Medway’s Children’s Services, as well as the support provided to the children and young people who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in the care system.
“Medway has come a long way on its improvement journey and I am pleased that the hard work of everyone involved with this journey has been recognised. I will continue to work closely with the senior management team to ensure great strides continue to be made to best support children in care and our care leavers. We will continue to do all we can to support Medway’s children in care and provide them and our care leavers with a more stable and promising future.
“We also recognise the huge impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on all young people, but particularly those in care, and we are working to provide additional support to ensure all of Medway’s children and young people have access to the right support. With our vision for Medway to be a completely child-friendly place, our improvement journey is just one part of everything we’re doing to provide better opportunities for our young people and help them reach their full potential.”