Medway Council has been commended by Ofsted for making significant improvements to services which support children and families.
During a focused visit to Medway on 5 February 2019 inspectors looked at children’s services safeguarding arrangements, when concerns about the safety and wellbeing of children are reported including single point of access, the multi-agency safeguarding hub and assessment team. The inspectors also visited a Children and Family Hub and had a meeting with the local authority designated officer service which is responsible for investigating allegations relating to professionals and carers working with children. The Ofsted inspectors have now published a letter with their findings.
Inspectors said that the council had made significant improvements in their response to contact and referrals since the Joint Targeted Area Inspection in June 2018. They also found that processes to support social work practice have been ‘embedded and strengthened’ with children and their families receiving a timely and proportionate response to their needs, despite a significant increase in the number of contacts and referrals. Inspectors stated that Medway focuses on the needs of the children, and when children are at immediate risk of significant harm, this is quickly recognised. Inspectors also acknowledged that leaders know their services well, and had development plans in place.
The letter acknowledged that the multi-agency working with police, health and other agencies, and information sharing in the multi-agency safeguarding hub were increasingly effective in ensuring proportionate threshold decisions. The inspectors also welcomed the appointments of an education lead, a domestic abuse officer and a missing and exploitation coordinator. Inspectors reported that staff described experiencing high support and high expectations within a learning culture and the visibility and approachability of senior managers and their engagement with staff promote a whole-team approach that is supporting further progress.
Inspectors also noted that the council is working to build on the strengths of the service and has ‘suitable plans’ in place to address areas where further improvement may be needed and this includes the need for continued improvements from partners through stronger engagement.
Last year Medway Council opened four Children and Family Hubs and 11 Children and Family Wellbeing Centres to provide further support to young families across Medway. Ofsted recognised the tailored support the hubs and centres are providing to families to meet their needs.
Providing high quality services for Medway's children
Cllr Andrew Mackness, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services at Medway Council, said: “We are committed to providing high quality services for Medway’s children and young people and I’m pleased that the inspection team have recognised the improvements we have already made to improve our services, as well as our strengths.
“We will continue to work even closer with health partners and we are working to address the quality of assessments and timeliness of visits to children and their families as quickly as possible.
“We have appointed new permanent staff to help reduce case loads and ensure we continue to provide each child and family with the help and support they deserve. It is pleasing to hear that staff feel supported and are positive about working for Medway Council.
“I am delighted that Ofsted also recognised that our excellent Children and Family Hubs are providing a ‘sound base’ for early help services across Medway and that they are tailored to meet their needs.
“We are committed to supporting Medway’s children and young people to give them the best start in life to help them reach their full potential.”