Services for children in care in Reading are improving and there are clear plans to make further progress, says a report from Ofsted.

Inspectors carried out a Focused Visit on Children in Care in Reading in September and found most of the children were living in stable homes which met their needs and that they received child-focused support from committed social workers. Focused Visits are not graded.

The Ofsted report also says most children enter care in a timely way and are prepared and matched carefully with carers, enabling them to feel stable and secure and to make progress.

Two inspectors looked at Brighter Futures for Children’s (BFfC) arrangements for children in care during the focused visit on 12 & 13 September. The inspectors’ findings are reported in a report, which was published today.

The report says: “Most children experience positive and stable relationships with their social workers, who are aspirational for them. Social workers know their children well and have insight into how best to build relationships with each of the children they support.”

The majority of social workers’ caseloads were found to be manageable which allowed them to spend time with children to develop positive relationships.

The report goes on to say that decisions for children to come into care, or to return home, are made thoughtfully and are well informed by detailed and thorough assessments which senior managers oversee effectively.

The inspectors found there is thoughtful and sensitive consideration of the most appropriate arrangements for children’s longer-term care and that children are actively supported to maintain relationships with important people in their lives.

Reviews and records were found to be written to children in language which is child focused and caring and they are given support to participate in meetings and in key decision-making events.

Inspectors said the needs of disabled children in care are well known and understood and they live in homes which meet their needs well. Unaccompanied asylum seekers were found to be well supported on their arrival in Reading and are supported to access legal advice, social activities, health care and education.

The report also says children’s personal education needs are regularly considered and reviewed by the Virtual School and they are encouraged to take part in a wide variety of activities, hobbies and interests of their choosing, which they enjoy.

The inspectors also highlighted areas for improvement, including the quality and impact of management oversight and supervision, the quality and impact of audit processes to improve social work practice and the impact of the corporate parenting panel on driving progress for children. Plans were already in place at the time of the Focused Visit to drive improvement in these areas.

Di Smith, Board Chair of Brighter Futures for Children, said: “I was very pleased to read so many positive comments in the inspector’s report about the services we provide for Reading’s children in care.

“I was particularly impressed with the praise for our hard-working and committed social workers who inspectors said are aspirational for the children they support and develop positive relationships with them.

“As well as identifying strengths, an Ofsted Focused Visit also highlights areas which need more attention. We are already working on those areas and we will move swiftly to implement changes to ensure our children and young people in Reading receive the best possible service.”

Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Lead Councillor for Children’s Services, said: “Many children in care will have experienced trauma and need to feel loved, cared for and safe. It is one of the most important responsibilities of a local authority to care for these vulnerable children and young people.

“It is heartening that the overall findings of the Ofsted inspectors were that most children in care in Reading are well looked after in stable homes, experience positive relationships with their social workers and are well supported in education and personal development.

“I would like to thank everybody involved in looking after our children in care in Reading. The important task now is for the required improvements identified by inspectors to be implemented as soon as possible.”

The full Focused Visit inspection letter can be found at: