Council’s children’s services staff praised after Ofsted inspection

Four members of staff from Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s children’s services have been praised following the recent Ofsted inspection.

Social workers Sally Shenton and Eileen O’Connor, and Children in Care and Fostering workers Kerry McNair and Hannah Byrne, were highlighted during the inspection as offering an excellent service to the children and families they worked with.

Sally and Eileen were commended in particular for taking into account needs of individual family members, identifying potential risks, applying noted research to individual cases, and their planning skills.

Sally said: “It’s nice that the inspectors looked at the work we did with families rather than looking at statistics. It’s nice to be told that the work you are doing is valuable, and that you are doing it to a high standard.”

Eileen added: “I’m really pleased it showed we could work with families well – that is the key part of the job, understanding and communicating with people to put them at ease. The inspectors were really interested in the work we have been doing, and even though it was quite daunting going through the process I’m glad it showed we’re doing well.”

Kerry and Hannah were given recognition for their case work in dealing with foster children and families, and their skills in equality and diversity, which were described as “outstanding.”

Kerry said: “I would hope it shows that Stoke-on-Trent is heading in the right direction when it comes to child care. I would also like to think it acts as a motivator for people wanting to work in the field in the city that both the training they receive and environment they work in is first class.”

Hannah commented: “In showing how different departments work well together we can give people confidence in both the way we work and interact with families. It also shows that we all work as one unit and communicate well.”

The Ofsted report into the city council, published in August 2011, highlighted strong leadership and the council’s “challenging, positive and improving journey” since coming out of intervention in July 2010.

It also identified prompt action and effective safeguarding of children and young people in need of protection, looking after children in safe placements and judging safeguarding to be good in council children’s homes, fostering, adoption and private fostering services.

Social care services for looked after children in the city include 130 foster carer households, nine small group homes and a respite unit for children with disabilities, and 133 externally commissioned places. These are commissioned through 17 fostering agencies, 17 residential agencies and five residential schools.

The inspection of the two teams themselves said that the services all four representatives were impressive, and managers led by example.

Councillor Debra Gratton, cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “Ofsted inspections make sure we are maintaining a high standard in the care and support we provide to children and families.

“This shows we have a great team of trusted staff who put the welfare of children and families first above all else. It’s right that they receive such recognition and they will continue to maintain the high standard that they have achieved so far.”