Watchdogs say fostering service has made strides.
Ofsted inspectors have rated Northumberland County Council's child fostering service as good overall, with outstanding leadership and management. The rating follows a four-day inspection carried out in June this year and represents an improvement on the previous Ofsted visit. In 2009 the service was judged to be adequate but a report to county councillors says there have been significant changes since then in fostering arrangements, both locally and nationally. New standards and regulations have placed greater emphasis on achieving outcomes for children and a new Ofsted inspection framework introduced in April this year has built on this.
In April last year, fostering services in Northumberland and North Tyneside were merged into a single agency as part of a regional improvement and efficiency project.
However, this didn't produce the anticipated benefits and the services were de-merged five months later.
The report to the council's executive says a new manager was appointed to the Northumberland service in March and a change process was launched to modernise the service.
The Ofsted report says the overall effectiveness and quality of the service is good and its "careful, rigorous and inclusive" care practice produces good outcomes for children, that are "outstanding in many respects."
It adds: "This is an exceptionally well managed fostering service that has made significant progress."