Progress at Northamptonshire's fostering service at 'very early stage' since inadequate rating, councillors told

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Ofsted carried out a monitoring visit last month

Northamptonshire’s fostering service has undergone a ‘complete shift’ in its culture and the way it works after it was graded inadequate, councillors have been told.

Ofsted found serious problems when it visited the service in February, ahead of its report being published a month later.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But on a monitoring visit in April, published last week, the regulator found there had been work done to start to fix the issues, despite progress remaining at a ‘very early stage’ and it being unable to measure its full impact yet.

NNC and WNC share Northamptonshire's Children's Trust's servicesNNC and WNC share Northamptonshire's Children's Trust's services
NNC and WNC share Northamptonshire's Children's Trust's services

The service, which is run by the trust and funded by North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) and West Northamptonshire Council, looks after about 500 children and works with about 320 foster carers and families.

Olivia Ives, who is acting as the service’s interim responsible individual, told NNC’s scrutiny commission that the service had benefited from a ‘complete refocus’ and ‘complete shift’ in mindset since the first Ofsted visit.

February’s inspection found no record of a social worker having a conversation with a child for more than a year.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But the service had seen every child in its care in the weeks after the report was published, she said.

It has also implemented a new data-tracking system but Ofsted said that remains in ‘its infancy’. It will help staff to assess how well the service is meeting the needs of children and foster carers, the regulator said.

When three children’s files were viewed by Ofsted, they were found to be a good standard but they were ‘not yet reflective of the service overall. It is also not easy to assess whether children are making progress,’ the report said.

Cornelia Andrecut, the trust’s director of children’s social care, told the NNC councillors on Tuesday: “We do know there’s a lot of work to do.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"This will not be a quick fix. We have met about how we do things, changing the culture, changing practice, so it will take time.

“Our confidence is that when [Ofsted] come back in July they see that we have made further progress and all of these changes are embedded and then they will do the full inspection in the autumn.

“Again our hope and confidence is that they will see that we are moving in the right direction.

"We are very ambitious for the service that we deliver, we want to have a good service, but we do know that there will be a lot of effort and work to get there.”