A council has made “progress and improvements” to its care of children who need permanent care arrangements, inspectors have found.

Ofsted inspectors said they were pleased to see that Shropshire Council has made moves in a positive direction since its children in care service was last inspected in 2017.

It found that “swift decisions” are now made and most children are placed with a family quickly.

Peter McEntee, inspector, said: “Since its last inspection in 2017, the local authority has made progress in improving services for children who need permanent arrangements for their care.

“For almost all children who come into care, swift decisions are made about their permanent care plans.

“The local authority is successful in ensuring that most children who cannot live with their parents are placed quickly in alternative living arrangements, including placements with relatives (connected carers), adoption, long-term fostering and, for a few, specialist residential living.

“Placement stability has improved, with fewer children experiencing multiple moves.

“Adoption is carefully considered for all children who cannot return home. Brothers and sisters are placed together whenever possible and adoption disruption is rare.”

Mr McEntee added: “Special guardianship orders (SGO) are considered for children living in long-term fostering arrangements.

“Plans for children in care who are living with their parents  under placement with parents (PWP) regulations are not sufficiently clear about what parents need to do to achieve good enough standards of parenting.

“Senior leaders have implemented the use of a permanency tracking tool, but it is not yet able to provide the local authority with enough information to allow a fully effective analysis of performance.

“The recently developed permanency forum is not yet embedded sufficiently to ensure a management overview of all relevant cases.”

Mr McEntee added that there are still areas the authority can improve including the functioning of the permanency tracker to ensure that it enables the local authority to analyse practice and progress towards permanence.

It would also recommend a greater understanding among staff of the purpose of the permanency forum and a review of its scope to ensure that PWP arrangements are considered in the forum on a regular basis.

He added: “Progress and improvements have been made since the last inspection.

“Senior managers and staff have a clear understanding of the importance of making permanent living arrangements for children coming into care as quickly as possible.

“As a result, almost all children have a plan for permanence at, or close to, their second children looked after review.”

Shropshire Council has been asked for comment.