Ofsted announces domestic abuse focus for multi-agency inspections

By Neil Puffett

| 10 August 2016

Multi-agency inspections of how services work together to protect children within local authority areas will from next month focus on the quality of support for children living with domestic abuse, Ofsted has said.

Joint targeted area inspections are conducted jointly by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HMI Constabulary and HMI Probation. Picture: Phil Adams

The first six joint targeted area inspections (JTAIs), which got under way in April, have, in addition to examining overall multi-agency work in a local area, featured a "deep dive" focus on how areas deal with child sexual exploitation.

Ofsted has said that the next set of six inspections, which are conducted jointly by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HMI Constabulary and HMI Probation, will look in depth at support for children affected by domestic abuse.
This will include children who are living where there are incidents of domestic abuse, or where there is a risk of domestic abuse taking place. Guidance published today sets out how the inspections will work in practice.
Inspectors will evaluate the effectiveness of interventions for victims of domestic abuse and adult perpetrators, and the impact this has on the welfare and protection of children. In each area, the inspections will look in depth at individual children's cases, as well as a wider sample, focusing on particular points in children's experiences.
Eleanor Schooling, Ofsted's national director for social care, said: "Ofsted's recent social care annual report highlighted some 320,000 children in need across England, many of whom live in families where domestic abuse is a constant feature. We know the devastating impact this can have on their immediate and future wellbeing.
"This is a very challenging area of work for professionals as they rightly focus on the protection of children, while balancing the rights and needs of victims.

"This set of joint inspections will provide Ofsted and partner inspectorates with valuable insight into how local areas are working together to help and protect these children. We will identify issues for improvement where we need to, but importantly, we want to highlight good practice from which others can learn."
Professor Steve Field, chief inspector of general practice at the Care Quality Commission, said: "Early and robust intervention is critical in protecting those exposed to domestic abuse.

"These targeted inspections build on the strong foundations laid by our joint safeguarding work that is already under way with our partners. This aims to improve outcomes for extremely vulnerable children and young people.
"We hope that this programme will encourage a greater focus on children's experiences and the hidden child."

A thematic report on the findings from the first six JTAIs is due to be published in the autumn.

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