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Council Children’s Services are ‘doing the right thing’ for children in the city

Sheffield Town Hall

Sheffield City Council’s Children’s Services have been commended for their commitment to ‘doing the right thing’ for children in the city, following a recent Ofsted visit.

Inspectors carried out a focused visit to Sheffield children’s services last month to look at the local authority’s arrangements for planning and achieving permanence.

After meeting with practitioners, managers and leaders and reviewing a range of evidence, a letter published by Ofsted today describes how there is ‘strong corporate and political support for children’s services’, and a clear vision from the leadership team that allows ‘good social work to flourish’.

The report details how social workers act quickly and thoroughly to put the most effective plans in place for children who are no longer able to remain with their parents and that there are robust processes in place to minimise and challenge delays.

Ofsted praised the sensitive work carried out with children to gain their views and help them to understand and prepare for their permanent home. They found that children benefitted individualised pen pictures that highlight their likes, what makes them happy, what they are wanting in a home and carers, and what support they need. They also found that culturally sensitive life-story work and later-in-life letters were completed by social workers to allow children to keep a record of memories and had a good understanding of their experiences, their birth family and how the people involved made the decisions about them.

Staff reported that they felt supported and valued, and credit was given to management for ensuring good training and development opportunities, which enhances the support offered to children.

Inspectors outlined two recommendations for improvement: the transition planning for children to adult services and quality and consistency of supervision recording. However, senior management were said to have a robust understanding of the running of their service, the areas they need to strengthen and how to make these improvements to better the outcomes of children.

Councillor Mick Rooney, Co-Chair of the Education, Children and Families Policy Committee said, “It’s great to see Ofsted recognising the hard work and dedication of our staff who strive day in day out to do their best by Sheffield’s children.

“The report illustrates that there is a real commitment to get the most effective plans in place, as quickly as possible, while making sure children’s voices are heard and that they feel part of the decision-making process. It highlights that children really are at the centre of what we do.

“Reading that ‘Foster carers feel well supported’ and that they have ‘established strong support networks and provide mentoring to newly approved carers’ was a particular highlight. Foster carers play a vital role in providing children in care with love and stability and we always need more of them. I hope this positive review encourages those who may be considering becoming a foster carer to get in touch.”

Councillor Dawn Dale, Co-Chair of Education, Children and Families Policy Committee, added “I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the staff who work so hard to ensure our city’s children and young people have a safe, happy, healthy, and successful future. This overwhelmingly positive report is a testament to all your efforts; they haven’t gone unnoticed.

“While there is much to be celebrated, we recognise that there is always room for improvement, and we will build on the inspector’s recommendations so that we can provide an even better service for our most vulnerable children and families across the city.”

The letter is available to read in full on the Ofsted website.