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Essex County Council has developed “a wealth of innovative initiatives” to respond to the needs of individual care leavers, a recent Ofsted report has found.
The findings are from a focused visit to Essex County Council (ECC) children’s services on October 18 and October 19. The report states that “leaders have created a positive environment for practitioners and their managers to find solutions to challenges faced by the care leavers they work with”.
The report adds that to improve this area of social work practice, more can be done to improve level up opportunities across the county and increase the numbers of care leavers engaged in education, training and employment.
The positive report is a welcome difference to those faced by ECC two years ago which found ‘significant weaknesses’ in special educational needs and disability (SEND) services created “inequality and inconsistency” across Essex.
In some areas children were waiting up to two years for autism assessments, the joint CQC and Ofsted report found in 2019.
Since then, the council has been working with families, professionals and partners to determine how it can improve and put those improvements into practice.
This latest report follows an Ofsted inspection in 2018, which rated its overall children’s social care services as ‘outstanding’.
The Ofsted report dated November 22 concluded: “Leaders have created a positive environment for practitioners and their managers to find solutions to challenges faced by the care leavers they work with.
“This has resulted in a wealth of innovative initiatives and translated well into effective responses to individual care leavers, supporting them to successfully transition on to independence.
“This creative culture has continued throughout the period of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and beyond, with staff flexibly adapting their ways of working.
“Staff have continued to be available and to reach out to care leavers, providing effective support in response to their needs.”