Ofsted highlights Continued Improvements in Birmingham Children’s Trust
Ofsted have reported continued improvement in the services delivered by Birmingham Children’s Trust, following a focused visit that took place in February 2020.
Birmingham Children’s Trust has been responsible for delivering children’s social care services in the city since April 2018. In December 2018, Ofsted judged that children’s social care services had improved and were no longer rated as inadequate.
In the recent visit, inspectors focused on the Trust’s ‘front door’ arrangements: they looked at how new concerns for children, from a professional, family member or a member of the public, are managed and responded to, by the Trust and with partner agencies working in the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub and the Children’s Advice and Support Service.
Inspectors found that arrangements are ‘positive for children and families in Birmingham, who receive an appropriate response to identified needs and concerns’.
Andrew Christie, chair of Birmingham Children’s Trust, said: “The Trust was established to improve how children’s social care services are delivered in Birmingham. For many families, this starts with our response at the front door of our services.
“It is extremely encouraging to receive positive feedback from Ofsted following their latest focused visit, and this tells us that our progress is on track. The letter also highlights the areas where further improvement is still needed. Ofsted recognised that leaders know the service and that they understand what further improvements are required."
Andrew Christie went on to say: “We are making sustained improvements in the delivery of services to support children, young people and families. We are continuing to strengthen the working relationships with the Council and with our partners, so we welcome the comments from Ofsted."
Councillor Kate Booth, Cabinet Member for Children’s Wellbeing, said: “I am both very pleased and reassured to hear from Ofsted that our children’s services are continuing to improve, and that our children, young people and families are benefitting from this.
"It is crucial that the entry point into children’s social care is being delivered to a high standard, so to recognise this is working well and is stable and is supported by strong leadership and a motivated and positive workforce is excellent news.”
Inspectors looked at the arrangements for contact and referrals into the Children’s Advice and Support Service (CASS) and the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). They reviewed thresholds for children in need and child protection, along with the Assessment and Short Term Intervention (ASTI) Service.
In addition, inspectors noted the innovative Contextual Safeguarding and Missing Children hub, reporting it to be ‘a strong and effective addition to front door services’. They stated that ‘this recent development covers all aspects of child exploitation and the daily triage meeting has clear processes in place for young people to be referred to and discussed in the hub’.
Staff morale in the front door of children’s social care services was found to be ‘very good’ with ‘all staff spoken to being positive about working for the Trust’.
Ofsted inspectors reported that ‘staff receive consistently good support from all tiers of highly visible leaders and managers, which is positively impacting on recruitment and retention rates’ concluding that ‘this means that children and families are experiencing fewer changes of workers and are thus able to build more trusting relationships’.
The focused visit summary highlighted other positive developments, including:
- no children were seen to be left in situations of risk or harm.
- once children and families are screened work is promptly allocated to relevant Children’s Advice and Support Service (CASS) workers for further information-gathering from case files and agency checks.
- management oversight in CASS is clear and effective. Managers provide clear directions and give the rationale for decisions that are recorded or endorsed.