Birmingham Children’s Trust improvement journey continues
Headlines from the latest visit by Ofsted to check on the progress being made by Birmingham Children’s Trust reveal that continued improvements in children’s social care are being made, recognising almost all social work interactions continue to be conducted face-to-face, despite the pandemic.
Ofsted inspectors conducted a ‘focused visit’ in October 2021, a two-day snapshot inspection of Trust activity, and found ‘most children in care benefit from living with settled carers who meet their needs’.
Social workers and other social work staff at the Trust were recognised by Ofsted ‘to have continued to support children in care during the pandemic through a mix of remote visits using technology and face-to-face visits based on risk assessments.’ Social workers interviewed said they liked working for the Trust.
Birmingham Children’s Trust Chief Executive, Andy Couldrick, said: “Our improvement journey remains on track thanks to the unwavering dedication of all our staff, whether their role is direct contact with children and families or working to make sure all of our services are active and responsive. I am pleased that our improvements have been recognised by Ofsted in their latest focused visit.
“We recognise that the children, young people and families we work with and support have a range of needs, in some cases complex and challenging needs. We therefore welcome the findings from Ofsted, which allow us to reflect on what we are doing well and ensure any areas that need greater attention are given appropriate focus as we continue to improve our services.”
“After many years of critical Ofsted reports in Birmingham it is important that improvement is being recognised, and that we can feel increasing confidence about the quality of the services we are offering.”
Councillor Sharon Thompson, Cabinet Member for Vulnerable Children and Families at Birmingham City Council, said: “Children’s social care in Birmingham is an area that requires strong leadership, highly committed and devoted staff, and a collective commitment to constantly improve services and support on offer to children, young people and families. It is clear that this is what is being delivered on a daily basis.
“Following this latest Ofsted visit I can see that the improvement journey is being maintained, and that children, young people and families are being given the best opportunities that we can provide.”
Inspectors commented positively about front-line staff that ‘social workers know children well and ensure that their views help inform plans for their future’ as well as stating that ‘children make progress in care and are supported to do well in school and enjoy their childhood."
With regards to placements inspectors said that ‘most children benefit from stable and well-matched placements which meet their needs.’ In addition, they found ‘social workers advocate strongly for their children, and effective professional networks ensure that children’s needs are understood and progressed.’
What Ofsted said about the Trust:
- On services for children in care with disabilities: ‘Children in care who have a disability are in stable and well-matched placements. They benefit from consistent care which meets their complex physical and emotional needs. Social workers develop meaningful relationships with children and use a range of communication techniques to understand children’s needs.’
- On extended families: ‘Every effort is made to support children to be cared for within their extended family.’
- On rights and participation: ‘Children in care can participate in the Children in Care Council (CiCC) and engage with a range of projects and activities which actively benefit other children, for example the perinatal pathway work, breaking the cycle, and the children’s placement forms refresh.’
- On unaccompanied asylum-seeking children: ‘Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children receive a responsive and sensitive service, which ensures that their needs are well met by social workers who have developed knowledgeable specialist expertise.’
- On exploitation and missing: ‘When children go missing, return home interviews are routinely offered. When exploitation risks are identified, they are addressed well in conjunction with the specialist service Empower U and the wider professional network. Direct work undertaken by social workers helps children understand grooming and exploitation risks.’
- On children’s health: ‘Physical health is addressed in detail through children’s plans. Children’s mental health and emotional needs improve through accessing in-house therapeutic emotional support service (TESS) which social workers can access for children in care.’
- On academic and vocational progress: ‘Children make positive progress and are well supported to have high aspirations and achieve in school and college. Older children are supported to consider their education and employment options, whether these be apprenticeships, college, or university. The range of apprenticeship opportunities created both within the trust, the council and beyond is a positive development that is increasing opportunities, and children are beginning to benefit from this.’