A children's services department that was "failing to keep children safe" has started "to improve, albeit from a very low base", Ofsted inspectors said.
Northamptonshire County Council's children's services were rated inadequate in July 2019.
An independent trust took control of children's services last month.
Its chief executive Colin Foster said there was a "clear focus on areas for development".
The council department has a troubled recent history, which included having a government commissioner appointed to oversee it in 2018.
The latest Ofsted report is based on a "focused visit" to the council between 20 and 22 October, rather than a full Ofsted inspection.
It was carried out remotely because of coronavirus restrictions.
The report said there was "convincing evidence that services for children and young people in Northamptonshire are starting to improve, albeit from a very low base".
It added plans were in place to address "the serious and widespread safeguarding concerns" raised in the 2019 inspection.
A timeline of two turbulent years
- Government commissioner Malcolm Newsam is appointed to oversee the "overwhelmed" service in 2018
- Two serious case reviews found the council had failed to protect murdered children Dylan Tiffin-Brown and Evelyn-Rose Muggleton
- The service was rated inadequate in July 2019, with inspectors saying the authority was "failing to keep children safe"
- Commissioner Mr Newsam resigned in September 2019 to be replaced by Andrew Christie
- In January 2020, a government report condemned the department as one of the worst in the country, despite being the most expensive
- An independent trust took control in November, with chief executive Colin Foster starting his job on Thursday
Inspectors said caseloads for social workers remained "too high", with several responsible for more than 35 children each.
The report said this caused "delays in progressing casework and a negative impact on the quality of assessments".
It added, however, that "relentless activity" to improve staff recruitment and retention was "having considerable traction".
Mr Foster said there was a lot of work to do to improve the service, but added: "There are a lot of good, local people who work hard to support children and families."