County Durham is one of the two best performing areas in the country for services to care for and keep children safe, councillors have heard.
Members of Durham County Council’s Cabinet heard this week that safeguarding and looked after children’s services in the area have been rated as outstanding by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission.
The council is only the second in the country to be graded as outstanding in three of four judgement criteria for how children are cared for and how the council and partner agencies keep children safe.
The recent inspection looked at a wide range of services – from those designed to protect children from harm to those aimed at making sure families can easily access the support they need, whether it be related to health, employment, education or other issues.
Inspectors had particular praise for the new One Point service, which brings a range of support and advice services together under one roof, which was described in the inspection report as being “dynamic and flexible”.
Cllr Claire Vasey Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, met parents in Stanley who use One Point services, which includes activities at the local Children’s Centre.
She said: “I am thrilled that the inspectors have recognised the effective way in which the council and its partners work to ensure families have easy and convenient access to the range of services they might require.
“Since the launch of our One Point service last year we have had very positive feedback from parents.”
The Ofsted inspection, which took place in December 2011, looked at safeguarding and child protection work as well as services for children who are looked after by the council, including those who live in children’s homes and in foster care. Continues…
The resulting report states that the overall effectiveness and the capacity for further improvement of safeguarding services is outstanding. It also describes leadership and management, ambition and prioritisation, partnership working, the engagement of looked after children and performance management as outstanding.
In addition, the inspectors state that the overall effectiveness of the services for looked after children is good, with an outstanding capacity for further improvement.
The report says: “County Durham has a clear vision setting out where its priorities lie, an ability to translate its aspirations into clear actions and a good track record.”
Cllr Vasey said: “I am very proud that Ofsted has recognised the excellent work being done in County Durham to care for and support some of the most vulnerable children and young people.
“It is extremely rare for Ofsted to rate these type of services as outstanding and the fact that they have in County Durham is a reflection of the skill, commitment and dedication of staff at the county council and our partners.
“Safeguarding was one of the three main areas of the council’s work that members of the public said they wanted to see protected when we consulted on budget proposals at the end of 2010 and we have, therefore, maintained our commitment and delivered services of the highest possible standard during very difficult financial circumstances.
“That said, we are by no means complacent and will continue to work hard with partners in order to care for and keep children safe and to continue to ensure families have the right support through our One Point service.”
Pictured above is Cllr Claire Vasey with Amelia Thomson at Stanley Children’s Centre, and below: Julie Thomson & Amelia Thomson, Cllr Vasey, Sarah-Jane Sedgwick & Darcy Sedgwick, Back Row – Emma Lee & Jack Lee, Hayley Hudson & Seren Hudson, Amanda Dower & Katie Dower.