The report is based on a full inspection of the service made by Ofsted in June and July this year.
The overall judgement of the service in the latest report is ‘requires improvement to be good’, although the council’s performance around adoption and the experience and progress of care leavers are both judged as ‘good’.
Cllr Jan Barber, the council’s executive member with responsibility for children’s services, said: “Our social workers do an incredibly hard job, and I am really pleased that the inspectors have recognised their efforts and made particular reference to their ‘good quality direct work with children, and the engagement of their parents’.”
As well as the views of the inspectors, the report also acknowledges the positive opinions of parents themselves: ‘parents spoken to were positive about the help they were receiving and the difference this was making to their lives’.
Sheila Smith, the council’s Director of People and Communities, said:
“We are pleased that the inspection report recognises the hard work carried out by those working in children’s social care to support vulnerable young people in North Somerset. The report acknowledges a number of areas of good practice and progress since the last inspection, most notably for adopted children and children leaving care as they move into adulthood and independent living.
“The inspection process and report have also given us the opportunity to reflect on areas where we still need to do more to improve to achieve a good rating. No parts of the services we provide are failing, but there are certainly areas where we need to continue to focus our attention.”
Improvements that the council has already implemented include:
• strengthened arrangements to identify and support children at risk of sexual exploitation to reduce the risks to them • ensured that social work practice is effective, particularly by newly-qualified social workers, so that children’s and their families’ lives are improved • improved the recruitment and retention of staff leading to a slowdown in staff turnover • introduced a new edge of care service to avoid young people needing to come into care • continuing to provide high-quality in-house counselling and therapeutic services for children, young people and their carers.
Sheila added: “Work in this important area has been, like all parts of local government, subject to successive years of austerity and resources are diminishing while demand for support is increasing. This makes our work increasingly challenging to deliver against a backdrop of cuts.
“However, we are making delivery of these improvements our priority, and will continue to do so.”