Ofsted carried out its inspection under the new framework for child protection services and said many ‘positive improvements’ have been introduced, although it’s too early to judge their full impact.
The report published on Friday said ‘significant improvements have been made since 2009’, which have been driven by ‘clear and resilient leadership and informed by sound and realistic understanding of the needs of the local community’.
The inspectors also highlighted the ‘good range’ of family support and early intervention services, improvements in dealing with new contacts and referrals, and the ‘robust response’ from workers to ensure the safety of children at immediate risk.
Good collaborative working between the council and police to tackle sexual exploitation and successful efforts to reduce social worker vacancies and the good support available to social workers also drew praise.
Areas which inspectors felt needed further improvement included a multi-agency review of serious neglect cases which have been on-going for ‘a significant period of time’, improving the quality of child protection and children in need plans and to reduce the caseloads of the busiest teams and workers.
Coun Paul Lakin, cabinet member for children, young people and families services, said the inspectors had made it clear that the authority is heading in the right direction.
He continued: “We accept their comments and agree that the full effect of those changes is still to be felt. We are committed to making sure that despite the challenging conditions public sector agencies face we will continue to improve and give the highest standards of support for families and protection for our vulnerable children and young people.”
“Many of the recommendations made were already part of our planning for the future of our services and we will make sure that all their suggestions are fully implemented within the timescales the inspectors have suggested.”
Rotherham Council leader Roger Stone, said he was pleased Ofsted had recognised the ‘tremendous improvements and achievements’ in tackling child sexual exploitation.
He added: “The creation of a joint team between the local authority and the police is a clear message to all in the borough that we will not tolerate the disgusting exploitation of our young people.”