Children's Services run by council given damning report

Children's Services run by council given damning report

by Tom Martin (May 2022)

CHILDREN’S Services run by Sefton Council have once again been given a damning inspection by Ofsted due to ‘serious and widespread failures in safeguarding vulnerable youngsters’.

A report published on Monday rated every possible category of the service as ‘Inadequate’, which is the lowest possible outcome, following a three week assessment carried out at the end of February.

Some of the many criticisms include a ‘heavy reliance on agency staff’, ‘insufficient capacity across the workforce’, ‘a lack of management oversight’ and a ‘delay in children having their needs met’ resulting in highly vulnerable children remaining at risk of significant harm.”

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In what will come as a deeply concerning judgement for the council, Ofsted inspectors described the overall Children’s Services as “precarious.”

In response, the council said they take Ofsted’s findings ‘incredibly seriously’ and have already started making changes in response to the report.

The Ofsted report follows similarly poor inspections in 2016, 2019 and 2021.

The latest report states: “Since the inspection in 2016, there has been a significant deterioration in services. A joint targeted area inspection in September 2019 and a focused visit in March 2021 both identified serious weaknesses in child protection practice and management oversight resulting in areas for priority action. Since the inspection in 2016, there has been a significant deterioration in services.

“The council and senior leaders have not sufficiently understood these failures or taken the necessary actions to improve services for children.

“This inspection has identified both serious and widespread failures in core areas of social work practice including assessment, planning, and management oversight. There is insufficient capacity across the workforce to secure a timely and appropriate response for children.

“As a result, some children are left with inadequate protection, and experience delays in having their needs met, including the need for timely permanence.

“A heavy reliance on agency staff across all areas of the service makes the service unstable. At this time, the service is precarious. There is a lack of stable, senior management. Many improvements are very new, or plans are not implemented, and it is too soon to be assured of their effectiveness

“Throughout help and protection services, there is drift and delay in children having their needs met in part due to insufficient workforce capacity and lack of management oversight and challenge. This results in highly vulnerable children remaining at risk of significant harm.”

Martin Birch, Director of Education and Children’s Services, who only joined Sefton Council in April this year, said“Whilst we are very disappointed about the overall outcome of the Inspection, Ofsted has acknowledged the improvements we have made since last year’s pandemic focused inspection, but these improvements have clearly not been fast enough in some parts of the service.

“We accept the findings of the report, and we are absolutely ready and willing to take these recommendations on board, learn, and improve.

“We take Ofsted’s findings incredibly seriously and we have already started making changes in response to the report.”



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