Council's children services rated 'inadequate'
An Ofsted inspection has rated Worcestershire County Council's children services as 'inadequate'.
The inspection, which was carried out in October last year, found 'widespread and serious failures' in the services.
The authority received the following rating:
- Children who need help and protection: 'Inadequate'
- Children looked after and achieving permanence: 'Inadequate'
- Adoption performance: 'Requires improvement'
- Experiences and progress of care leavers: 'Inadequate'
- Leadership, management and governance: 'Inadequate'
The council has come under increasing pressure over recent years as it was branded 'inadequate' in 2010 before having that improvement lifted in March 2012.
Since then, the numbers of children in care have risen steadily to around 700.
The Ofsted report said:
Elected members and senior leaders have not taken sufficient action to ensure the protection of vulnerable children. This corporate failure leaves children in Worcestershire at continued risk of significant harm.
Inconsistent leadership and an insufficient number of staff at all levels have contributed to a fundamental weakness in practice. Too many children have been left in situations of escalating risk without becoming looked after.
During the inspection and following its findings, strong political support was demonstrated for change, with a determined commitment to provide the required additional resources.
These changes have led to some very early improvements in the services that children receive. However, services remain fragile, and it is too early to see any sustained impact on outcomes for children.
Subsequently, Ofsted has made a number of recommendations including:
- Ensure that elected members and senior leaders meet their statutory responsibilities and duties to the children of Worcestershire by improving all children’s services.
- Strengthen children’s voices by ensuring that children are seen, and seen alone,that their views are fully considered and taken into account, that they are supported to contribute to their plans and that their wishes are acted on, when appropriate.
- Ensure that social workers and managers fully understand and exercise their responsibilities to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
In a statement, Ofsted said, "We will let the report speak for itself".
Acknowledgement: Extract of Article by ITV News Jan 24th 2017