Children in need of protection benefit from ‘strong front door services’ - Ofsted

Deputy Mayor Cllr Anntoinette Bramble (third from L), Group Director, Children and Education, Jacquie Burke (third from R), and Director of Children's Social Care, Diane Benjamin (second from R), at Hackney's anti-racist praxis conference

Children in Hackney who are in need of help and protection benefit from ‘strong front door services that help to ensure they receive the right support at the right time’, according to Ofsted inspectors following a focused visit to the Council in September.

In a letter to Jacquie Burke, Hackney Council’s Group Director for Children and Education, inspectors praised ‘committed and skilled’ staff, ‘timely and effective’ action for children at immediate risk and ‘significant financial investment in youth services to address the risk of serious youth violence’.

Inspectors recognised that workforce challenges - present across the social care sector - have had an impact on some caseloads and the timeliness of some assessments, however they noted that ‘most children’s assessments… are comprehensive, child-focused and analytical’, with ‘children’s experiences, safety and welfare… key components in these assessments’.

They said that staff ‘feel supported’ through the implementation of new practices, with a ‘focus on an anti-racist, trauma-informed and systemic approach to practice’.

Young Hackney, the Council’s youth service, was praised in the letter from inspectors, who said its ‘targeted support service helps to divert, disrupt and prevent young people’s involvement in gangs, exploitation and serious youth violence’.

The visit identified three areas for improvement: social work caseloads, minimising delays, and ensuring that social workers record reflective feedback from managers in case notes.

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Deputy Mayor of Hackney

Our services to help and protect children are some of the most important we run. We’re very pleased that Ofsted inspectors recognised that we are self-reflective and know ourselves well; give effective support for children; have dedicated and skilled staff; continue to invest in Young Hackney; and, show strong political and professional leadership that drives improved outcomes for Hackney children.

Our anti-racist approach to social care is central to everything we do, and we’re especially pleased that inspectors highlighted that staff feel supported in implementing this.

We are grateful for the feedback from inspectors about areas for improvement - and it is our absolute priority to recruit and retain the very best workers within the service so caseloads and delays in the timeliness of a minority of assessments can be improved.

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Deputy Mayor of Hackney