Looked after children who are waiting for a new family are well supported by Calderdale Council’s Children’s Services team, according to the latest inspection by Ofsted.
Officials from Ofsted visited the Council in June 2017 to inspect the local authority’s arrangements for finding long-term homes for local looked after children and young people.
The Council opted to take part in the pilot, which is being developed by Ofsted to test new arrangements for the inspection of children’s social care services.
Inspectors examined the effectiveness of the Council throughout the adoption process; checking children find an appropriate permanent new home quickly, whilst taking into account their feelings and those of the families involved.
The inspection found that the Council has strong management with good oversight of cases and good planning, which is helping to reduce delays finding children a new family. The local authority is also making improvements to the process so that it is faster and more effective.
Ofsted recognised that ‘the local authority is determined to find the right long-term home for children’ and that the Council works hard to make sure that children stay in contact with their siblings and friends. The team is in contact with family members throughout, so that if a suitable home can be found with a relative this is identified very early in the process.
Social workers regularly spend time with the children they are placing so that they have a good understanding, through observation, of their wishes and feelings, even when the child is too young to be able to speak. The children are able to influence the decisions which affect them and their future.
When there is a risk that the placement may break down, social workers will increase their visits to children and carers to provide extra support.
Inspectors saw evidence that there are ‘solid working relationships between the local authority, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service and the courts’ which ‘means that care proceedings in the main are completed quickly.’
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services, Cllr Megan Swift said:
“Unfortunately there are some children who are not able to live with their birth family so finding them a permanent home, where they feel cared for and safe is a priority for us. We want all our looked after children to find the right adoptive parents quickly so they can feel settled and continue to thrive.
“I’m delighted on behalf of the team, that Ofsted has recognised this during the inspection and that the service has received such positive findings. The feedback from the report has given us clear guidance on where we can make the service even better and we’ll work hard now to put these improvements in place.”
The findings have recommended that the Council’s Children’s Services team now focuses on finding permanent homes for children who have more complex and challenging needs as these often take longer to be put in place.