Quality of West Sussex fostering service judged ‘outstanding’

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West Sussex County Council’s fostering service has been judged as ‘good’ with some ‘outstanding’ features in an Ofsted inspection carried out at the end of November 2012.

The inspectors found the service was well managed with motivated and professional staff.

The report just published said: ‘Young people are placed without avoidable delays and make good progress from their starting points. Young people are integral to decision making and their views make a difference to the service. Diversity and equality are promoted effectively in all aspects of the service. Carers feel valued and well supported and have a good understanding of young people’s needs. They are carefully selected and are well prepared and trained.

‘There are strong quality assurance measures in place and there is a focus on development and improvement. This means that young people benefit from good care which enables them to make progress in all areas of their lives.’

Cabinet Member for Children and Families Peter Evans said: “I am delighted that we have achieved this rating in our inspection – my congratulations to all involved.

“Our fostering team provides a vital service. It’s reassuring for residents thinking of becoming foster carers to know that we have been rated so highly. Equally, my thanks to all our current foster carers, whose hard work and dedication along with our staff has led to this positive outcome, which is much deserved.”

The report recognised that the outcomes for children and young people are good, saying young people are happy in their placements and are supported to move forward with confidence.

The report said: ‘Young people are consulted with and contribute significantly to the development of the service. There is an active children in care council. Young people involved have recently helped in the development of a new guide to foster care. As a result young people feel their views are valued.’

It added that young people were shown to achieve in their education and make good progress. They are actively involved in activities in the community and health needs are met. It acknowledged there is an effective short-break service that supports young people to acquire new skills and develop confidence.

The quality of the service was graded as outstanding by inspectors, saying young people are placed with families who can meet their needs ‘exceptionally well’. The report acknowledged the assessment and training of foster carers and added that foster carers feel ‘exceptionally well supported’.

Comments from foster carers said the service ‘really value us’ and another said ‘we have a very good working relationship with West Sussex. It really makes me feel listened to’. The service was praised for the culture of training and development and also for the views of foster carers being sought and contributing to decisions relating to young people in their care.

The service was rated as good under the category of safeguarding children and young people, with the report acknowledging robust systems in place to protect young people. It said that young people feel safe and are safe, and are confident their carers will support them.

The leadership and management of the service was marked as outstanding by inspectors. The report said the service ‘operates with a team of experienced and motivated staff who feel they can contribute to the development of the service’.

Peter added: “We are always on the lookout for more foster carers to come forward from across the county. Our foster carers provide that vital thing – a supporting and loving home with security and stability to help give a child or young person the confidence and support they need to develop and grow as a person.”

Foster carers receive a comprehensive support package from the Council, including on-going training and financial allowances to meet the needs of the children and young people in their care.

To find out more about fostering, visit the County Council’s website at www.westsussex.gov.uk/fostering.

Earlier in 2012, the County Council’s adoption service was also inspected by Ofsted and judged as ‘good’ with some ‘outstanding’ features.