An inspection report has been published by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), following their visit to Manx Care’s Children & Families Service in April and May 2023.
Ofsted was invited to assess the Children’s and Families Service over a two-week period, covering children’s residential care and wider children’s social care services.
It is important to note that a number of the report’s findings had already been identified and shared in the service’s self-assessment, which the team presented to Ofsted prior to their visit. This meant that none of the findings were a surprise to the service, and a number of them were already being addressed by the time the report was completed.
The regulator stated that whilst there was work to do, there were significant positive developments across services. They acknowledged that staff were motivated and knew their children, with a nurturing ethos being evident.
Overall, there were 11 headline issues, resulting in 61 findings, which have been developed into an Action Plan by the team. It should be noted that 26 of these actions have been completed, 27 are ongoing with plans in place to resolve them, and eight require financial input or resolution by Isle of Man Government departments or other agencies.
Areas for improvement included a lack of services for children with disabilities, limited resources for care leavers, a shortage of foster carers, the risk of exploitation of children and young people, and homelessness in those aged 16 and over.
Regarding services for children with disabilities, Ofsted’s findings aligned with those of the service self-assessment. Scoping of the service provision for this cohort is currently in progress, with plans underway for developments that will be dependent on financial investment.
In terms of resources for care leavers, there is currently no Leaving Care Legislation on the Island. However, this is due to be reviewed and updated in line with the review of the Children and Young Person’s Legislation in 2026. Manx Care has reviewed the current provision and is in the process of scoping what can be implemented in the meantime to ensure that the needs of these young people are identified and met.
It is expected that there will be an increase in the number of people on the Island showing an interest in fostering thanks to the recruitment strategy that is well underway at this time. This is receiving positive responses across the community, and it is hoped that this will see more individuals progress through to assessment.
Regarding the potential for exploitation of young people, Manx Care was already developing a multi-agency response to this, which was in its infancy during the Ofsted visit, and continues to progress.
Homelessness in those aged 16 and over is an Island-wide issue requiring an Island-wide response. This is being addressed strategically across services, and Manx Care continues to assess and support these young people as effectively as possible within the limited housing resources available.
There were a number of positive developments identified throughout the Ofsted visit, acknowledging that there had been a lot of work undertaken in a short period of time. It was identified that Manx Care colleagues did their best for children and young people despite some deficiencies in Island-wide resources.
Julie Gibney, Assistant Director for Children and Families Social Work, said:
'The service’s overall action plan is progressing well, and covers short, medium and long-term plans to support improvements and developments. The senior management team and all of our colleagues are motivated to move things forward to improve outcomes for our children and families.'
Teresa Cope, Chief Executive for Manx Care, said:
'We have accepted all the findings and recommendations in the Ofsted report, and a comprehensive action plan is in place which is being monitored by our Board to oversee the improvements within the service. The report highlights a number of areas for improvement which require a multi-agency response, and therefore we welcome the development of the Children’s Services Improvement Board – this will be independently chaired and will enable the progression of the medium and long-term developments across the wider system.'