The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (“Ofsted”), the Care Quality Commission (“CQC”) and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (“HMICFRS”) announced on 28 March 2022 that they will restart their joint targeted area inspections (“JTAI”) programme.
JTAIs are carried out under S.20 of the Children Act 2004 and look at how local agencies work together to protect children and improve their well-being.
Inspections will look at multi-agency arrangements for:
- Responses to all forms of child abuse, neglect and exploitation at the point of identification;
- Quality and impact of assessment, planning and decision making in response to notifications/referrals;
- Protecting children and young people at risk of specific type(s) of harm;
- Leadership and management of these systems/arrangements; and
- Effectiveness of local safeguarding arrangements.
From April 2022 the inspectorates will carry out two types of JTAI:
- Evaluating multi-agency response to identification of initial need and risk or the ‘front door’ of child protection; and
- Consideration of a themes which focus on multi-agency response to the criminal exploitation of children or consider a particular cohort of children.
There will also be guidance published annually when the focus of future thematic JTAIs are announced.
The two new frameworks mentioned above will build on the joint inspection methodology used in Solihull in January 2022. This includes evaluating:
- The effectiveness of agencies, both individually and collectively, to improve children’s well-being
- Application of thresholds that are appropriate, information-sharing that is effective and intervention in a timely manner
- How the children are protected through multi-agency arrangements that are effective at the “front door”
- How effective oversight is and how leaders and managers work together to ensure the conditions for effective practice are present and are proactive when improvements are necessary
- How the work of safeguarding partners through multi-agency safeguarding arrangements are monitored, promoted, coordinated and evaluated and whether these arrangements lead to improvements in the initial response at the front door.
They are designed with more focus so that inspectors can conduct inspections with less burden to local safeguarding partnerships.
Restarting the programmes has been heralded by many sector leaders as a huge step forward in improving the quality of child welfare.
For providers this will inevitably mean more scrutiny, especially when it comes to safeguarding. To help prepare themselves for JTAIs providers should familiarise themselves with the guidance, the key criteria, and their systems and processes in place to work with other local agencies when it comes to protecting child welfare. They will also want to pay particular attention to the areas of focus announced each year to be sure that they are keeping up with sector standards set by the regulators involved in these inspections.