Joint targeted area inspections (JTAI), are carried out by Ofsted, HMI Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, the Care Quality Commission, and HMI Probation. These thematic inspections look at how well local agencies work together in an area to protect children. Each set of 6 inspections focuses on a different ‘deep dive’ theme, providing an in-depth look at a particular issue.
Effective joint work, at both a strategic and practice level, is critical to providing good help and protection to children and their families. The JTAI programme aims to support effective partnerships by highlighting how well agencies work together, as well as how they could improve their multi-agency approach. Our mantra is that no agency can deliver an effective child protection response by itself.
We have almost completed our last set of JTAIs for the ‘deep dives’ announced previously. These focus on child sexual abuse in the family environment. We plan to publish a summary of our findings about practice with this group of children in the summer next year. We will then carry out 2 revisits on the theme of exploitation of older children.
Having consulted with our fellow inspectorates and stakeholders from across the sector, we have jointly agreed the next 3 deep dive themes. These will be:
- children living with mental health issues
- prevention and early intervention
- older children in need of help and protection, and contextual safeguarding, including exploitation.
Our JTAIs on children living with mental health issues will begin in summer 2019, with the guidance for these published in June. We will develop guidance and inspect the other two deep dive themes in 2020 and 2021, respectively. We will carry out 6 inspections for each of these new themes.
During this period, we also plan to carry out up to four JTAIs each year, to revisit some of our earlier deep dive themes to see how practice has moved forward since the publication of our thematic overview reports. As with previous years, this means that we will carry out up to 10 JTAIs overall each year.
I am sure you will agree that the new themes will build on the findings of our previous JTAIs, which focused on:
- child exploitation and children missing from home, school or care
- children living with domestic abuse
- older children living with neglect
- child sexual abuse in the family environment.
When combined, these themes will give Ofsted and its fellow inspectorates a chance to evaluate a broad range of protective and preventative work that local agencies do to keep children safe.
In addition to the individual local area reports, we will continue to publish an overview summary of the most significant findings from the 6 inspections on each focused theme. We expect the overview summary for the JTAIs looking at children living with mental health issues to be published in early 2020.
I am pleased to say that the JTAIs and our overview reports have been well received by local areas. Feedback we have received so far tells us that JTAIs provide the right balance, identifying not only good practice but also areas for development, which all agencies can learn from and improve.
We believe that our findings in each of these JTAI themes will add value to the sector and to wider policy thinking.
Yvette Stanley is Ofsted's National Director for Social Care. Follow Yvette on Twitter.