Ofsted praises Derbyshire County Council’s children’s services team

Derbyshire County Council’s children’s services team has been praised by Ofsted for the quality of its assessments for disabled children and fast response to child protection concerns.

Following an unannounced visit in October, inspectors were impressed by the service’s rapid response team, which offers “flexible” support to social work teams based across the county.

The contact, referral and assessment service for disabled children was also highlighted as a strength, with a strong focus on ensuring children were safe. Those carrying out assessments also worked well with child development colleagues.

But while most child protection cases are allocated to experienced social workers, inspectors were concerned that newly qualified workers were sometimes asked to “undertake highly complex child protection work”.

Among other areas of concern were delays in staging initial child protection conferences. Case records at the council also need to place a greater focus on the relevance of culture and ethnicity when assessing families.

Inspectors also made an unannounced visit to Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council’s children’s services team in October. Their report praised the council’s close work with other organisations such the police. This helped ensure victims of domestic violence were offered support at an early stage.

However, concerns were raised about the large size of social workers’ caseloads.