A multi-agency inspection into how Wokingham Borough Council and its partners respond to child abuse and neglect has found well established partnerships that are focused on improvements.
- The partnership is well-established and focused on driving improvements
- The ‘hidden nature’ of neglect in a relatively affluent area is understood and social workers cut through this to see needs of the child
- Designated professionals provide strong leadership
- There is evidence of skilled partnership work across agencies
- Leaders are ambitious for children and actively seek to learn (welcoming external scrutiny)
- Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub was seen as a strong example of prioritising the needs of children
The Joint Targeted Area Inspection (JTAI) looked at the multi-agency ‘front-door’ to children’s social care and took an in-depth look at the local response to abuse and neglect as well as leadership and management. In terms of neglect it focused on five specific cases.
Among the JTAI’s findings were:
The JTAI also cited an area of highly effective practice of a local GP in recognising neglect and making referrals onwards.
The inspections are not graded and are designed to help learning and, with its focus on neglect, it was well-timed as the Wokingham Children’s Safeguarding Board has recently adopted a neglect strategy that will focus on improvements in this area. Areas for improvement raised by the report have been identified and action plans have already been put in place for them.
Fran Gosling-Thomas, independent chair of Wokingham's Safeguarding Children Board, said: “The timing of this inspection was very helpful, given that tackling neglect is one of our top priorities this year. I am very pleased that the strength of our partnership working and quality of support for children was recognised. The recommendations in the report will be very helpful to us as we drive implementation of our multi-agency neglect strategy.”
And Wokingham Borough Council executive member for children’s services Cllr Mark Ashwell said: “This was an incredibly thorough inspection – one of the first of its kind – and we are delighted that so many positives have been identified. Keeping children safe is our utmost priority and we very much welcome outside scrutiny to ensure we are doing all we can to protect the most vulnerable in our community. Neglect is also a key issue, and one we had already adopted as a priority before this inspection, so the guidance it has offered will be particularly valuable and we very much welcome this learning opportunity as it adds value to what we are already doing.
The full report is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/joint-inspections-of-the-response-to-children-experiencing-neglect-may-to-december-2017