Leeds fostering services move from ‘inadequate’ to ‘good’

Fostering services in Leeds which were criticised as being inadequate last year have received a positive report from government inspectors.

Following an inspection last month, the latest Ofsted report stated that all aspects of Leeds’s fostering service were rated as good, which resulted in an overall rating of ‘good’.

Inspectors commented that the council’s fostering service is “a strong service that provides good outcomes for children.”

The report – which can be found in full here – added:”A significant investment of resources and management input has resulted in significant improvements and demonstrates a strong capacity to improve further.”

At the last inspection the council was asked to do a number of things to improve the service, including improving children’s safety.

The report acknowledges that “all these matters have been given rigorous and thorough attention by the fostering service and have all been addressed fully and comprehensively. These, along with other developments and improvements, have resulted in a service that is much improved and meets children’s needs well.”

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said: “Just over a year ago this was a service with an ‘inadequate’ rating. It has been through joint endeavour, a commitment to quality, a willingness to change and the desire to improve the lives of the children and young people in our care, which has driven such impressive and speedy improvement.”

The report highlighted that the fostering service works effectively with health and education services, which helps produce some very good outcomes for children and young people in the city. Children are supported to have appropriate contact with family members and arrangements to help them in the transition to adulthood work well.

The report added:”Some additional areas of improvements are necessary, including the quality and completeness of recording in foster carer files and some areas of foster carer supervision, training and review. The monitoring of some areas of the daily operation of the service has also not been effective enough.”

Inspectors commented that new developments within the fostering team supports the more effective recruitment of foster carers and assessments of new carers are thorough and of a good standard.

Leeds Liberal Democrat leader Stewart Golton – the former lead member for children’s services – added: “There have been some real challenges within Children’s Services in recent years. However, this report demonstrates that the robust action plans we put in place are working.

“I still believe that investment in training is key to developing a confident, professional workforce, who can deliver consistently high quality services for the most vulnerable children in our city.

“Now is not the time for complacency. I very much hope the new Labour administration will build on the success of the last year in order to further benefit young people in Leeds.”

Disabled people to manage own social care budgets

Council chiefs have given the green light to roll out a new way for people to receive social care in Leeds from next month.

The new system, called ‘self-directed support’ (SDS), is designed to be fairer, more flexible and more transparent.

Instead of being slotted into the ‘one-size-fits-all’ social services model of the past, people eligible for community-based support will now have the chance to receive and manage their own social care budgets, allowing them to pick and mix from a range of services from the council and independent care providers to best suit their needs.

Under the new scheme people will know exactly how much money is available to spend on their personal support. It can be used to pay for any services or items which genuinely help to improve people’s quality of life and address specific needs.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member with responsibility for adult social care said:”Personal budgets … are much more flexible than traditional direct payments, allowing people to mix and match the support they get using council services and independent providers.

“People will still have the option to continue to access services via the traditional route if they wish to do so.”

The new scheme has been trialled in Leeds for the past year. People will be asked to show how they plan to spend their budget in a support plan which must be agreed by the local authority. Controls are in place to make sure that taxpayers’ money is being spent responsibly.