Building on ‘outstanding’ services for the next child
Throughout Cafcass, we are thrilled with our ‘Outstanding’ rating from Ofsted. In our press release and in our internal communications, I have said that as well as sustaining change we now have to take our work to the next level. This means the next child. The next child and all the children after that should receive the best possible service we can provide. While our leadership, nationally and locally, was rated as ‘outstanding’, our practice in both public and private law was rated good, albeit with many outstanding features. This means our next task is to improve the quantum of our work which is outstanding. This is our definition of continuous improvement. All improvements, including those that are corporate or technical, must be judged by how they contribute and add value to the level of service received by the next child.
The progress we have made in between our previous inspection rating of ‘Good’ in 2014 and this year’s ‘Outstanding’ shows that we are on the right track. So, from now on, we’ll continue to make steady improvements in all that we do, with extra confidence that our evidence-based approach and relentless focus on analysing the factors that impact on the welfare of children are having the right results.
As Ofsted say, we can tighten up on some case plans, some diversity practice and one or two other aspects of our work. Above all, we will continue to deepen our understanding, analysis and recommendations about what vulnerable children need to happen to make their lives safer and happier.
So our work programme for next year (1st April 2018 – 31st March 2019) will commit us to further improvements, such as the early delivery and sign off of Ofsted’s short action plan; finalising and launching our new children’s app to make it easier for children to communicate with us; and I will be personally working with some members of the Family Justice Young People’s Board to produce more in the Top Tips series of advice to children, our practitioners and family courts about important practice issues.
We will also be working with a number of other organisations to share learning. We will be collaborating with organisations around the world, especially those working on the same issues as us, to shape learning, and following this work will look to circulate it more widely.