January 19, 2016 8:32 am
New inspections to assess how agencies work together in an area to identify, support and protect vulnerable children and young people.
New Joint Targeted Area Inspections of services for vulnerable children and young people (JTAI) are to be launched this year, inspectorates Ofsted, Care Quality Commission (CQC), Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation (HMIP) have announced.
From February, all 4 inspectorates will jointly assess how local authorities, the police, health, probation and youth offending services are working together in an area to identify, support and protect vulnerable children and young people.
The new short inspections will allow inspectorates to be more responsive, targeting specific areas of interest and concern. They will also identify areas for improvement and highlight good practice from which others can learn.
Each inspection will include a ‘deep dive’ element, with the first set, to be completed by summer 2016, focusing on children at risk of sexual exploitation and those missing from home, school or care. Future areas of focus will be decided upon with input from key stakeholders.
The new approach was consulted on in July 2015 and over 200 responses were received from those working in the children’s social care, health, police, probation and youth offending services. The inspections were successfully piloted in December last year.
Ofsted’s National Director for Social Care, Eleanor Schooling said:
“The responsibility of safeguarding cannot rest with one agency alone. These new inspections will provide a comprehensive picture of how several agencies work together in an area to ensure children are safe. This is an important step forward for inspection.
The joint approach will allow us to act swiftly where we are concerned about specific issues in an area so we can ensure that every agency is doing its part. Equally, it will give us an important opportunity to look at good practice and really understand how local areas are tackling the challenges they face. We are confident these inspections will support improvement and have a positive impact on the experiences of children and young people.
I’d like to thank everyone who contributed their views and the positive feedback we have received in the development of this important work.”
The inspection report will include narrative findings that clearly set out what the local partnership and agencies are doing well, and what they need to do to improve.
When each set of inspections by theme are completed, a thematic overview report will be published to highlight the learning more widely. The inspections will replace Ofsted’s current thematic inspection programme.
From February, Ofsted will also be able to carry out its own targeted inspections of local authorities and Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) following positive responses to the consultation.
Used alongside current inspections of local authorities, Ofsted Targeted Local Authority Inspections will allow the inspectorate, if necessary, to act proportionately and responsively in areas where risks are identified.
The consultation outcomes are available on the Ofsted website, alongside the:
•joint targeted area inspection framework and guidance, together with inspection criteria for the first ‘deep dive’ in tackling child sexual exploitation
• Ofsted targeted local authority inspection framework and guidance and inspection criteria for the first ‘deep dive’ in tackling child sexual exploitation
CQC Chief Inspector of general practice, Steve Field said:
“CQC welcomes the opportunity to work with partner inspectorates in this important area of activity. Assessing how organisations work together to support and protect children and young people goes to the heart of our shared priorities. It allows us to test interagency working and identify best practice, promoting improvement across all services. The positive feedback from the pilot endorses this innovation that combines cross sector assessment with more in depth thematic reporting. It also provides an approach to joint work that can be used flexibly in future to assess for other topics or priorities.”
Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said:
“We welcome working in partnership on these inspections which will ensure that collectively we can look at how all the various services work together to protect some of our most vulnerable children.
Additionally, these inspections will complement the work HMIC is already doing to examine how each police force protects children at risk of harm.”
Assistant Chief Inspector of Probation Alan MacDonald said:
“HMI Probation sees real benefits in jointly assessing how well local agencies work together to protect and care for vulnerable children. We think these inspections will shed light on both good and poor practice, identifying examples from which others can learn and helping areas to improve.”