Ofsted report: West Sussex Children’s Services continues to improve

West Sussex County Council’s Children’s Services continue to make improvements to the lives of vulnerable children and young people in the county but more work is needed to increase the pace of progress.

These are the findings of a recent Ofsted report into the Council’s service, published today following a monitoring visit in September. Read the Ofsted report in full.

The visit focused on the quality of social work practice to support and protect vulnerable children and young people and the effectiveness of child-in-need and child protection plans.

Findings from the report include:

• There is evidence and a clear vision for ongoing improvement
• The quality and impact of social work is variable, although some practice is strong
• All children that Ofsted spoke to felt listened to and were visited on a regular basis
• Children’s Services have strong corporate and political support to improve practice
• Staff are enthusiastic about the new family safeguarding practice model
• There has been some fluctuation in performance due to the challenges in recruiting social workers, which is a national issue
• Increased demand and complexity have meant some children are waiting too long for help
• Children’s Services have been relentless in their focus and approach to recruiting social workers
• Ofsted saw evidence of positive social work to improve outcomes for children and families
• Children who have the same social worker have seen positive change and benefit from this consistency

Jacquie Russell, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Everyone in our Children’s Services teams is committed to putting children first and building strong relationships with our children, young people, and their families. This is at the heart of everything we do and a core part of Our Council Plan.

“We actively support more than 5,500 vulnerable children and young people and have made significant progress over the last few years to redesign and improve our services, with a determination to provide the standard of service our communities deserve.

“So, it’s encouraging to see that Ofsted has recognised the progress we’re making and highlighted areas where we need to maintain our focus.

“As part of our Children’s First practice improvement plan, we are working hard to address the variability within some of our practice that the report references. I am very conscious of the need to increase the pace of our improvement work, which is impacted by the increased demand and complexity of cases we’re managing. Recruiting to our teams remains a priority and I’m pleased to say that, following an overseas recruitment drive last month, we are looking forward to welcoming 36 new social workers to West Sussex in the new year. They will bring their knowledge, expertise, and experience, and provide much-needed support to help us deliver the best service to our children, young people and families.

“I would like to express my personal thanks to staff across the Council’s Children’s Services who work tirelessly to put children first.”