Ofsted hails work of new child safety hub

WSCC
WSCC

A hub designed to be the single point of contact for anyone with concerns about child safety has been inspected by Ofsted.

Inspectors spent two days visiting West Sussex children’s services, looking at the work of the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).

The MASH is made up of a range of partners, including the county council, Sussex Police and the NHS. It opened in April 2016, five months after children’s services was rated ‘requires improvement’ in all areas.

The latest report was more positive. Published on May 9, it acknowledged the ‘significant work’ which had been carried out since the last inspection.

The report said services provided by the MASH meant many children were given support before their needs escalated.

It added: “The MASH provides a timely and child-focused response to children at risk of harm.”

Another strength of the service was the extensive support offered to children and families experiencing domestic abuse.

But inspectors said the MASH was not yet providing an efficient service for all children, with systems described as ‘over-complex’.

It was noted that staff spent a great deal of time on administrative tasks and the processing of information.

This, coupled with other pressures, meant some children were waiting too long to get help.

The need to simplify the system was one of the points highlighted for improvement.

The inspectors recognised that action had been taken to tackle weaknesses in the service through the implementation of the MASH improvement plan.

Stephen Hillier, county council cabinet member for children and young people, said: “I have seen the hard work which has gone into improving the service and I am always proud to see how much passion the staff have for their work and their desire to protect our children across the county.

"So having the Ofsted inspectors recognise the amount of work which the team has put in is really significant.

“We are not under any illusion that the hard work is over as there is more to be done but it is important to recognise the accomplishments along the way.”