Laura Sharman 12 October 2016

Child protection services judged 'unsatisfactory' by watchdog

Child protection services judged unsatisfactory by watchdog image

Six years of reforms to child protection services have failed to make significant improvements, a damning report from the National Audit Office has said.

The watchdog said that despite actions taken by the Department for Education (DfE) since 2010, many child services delivered by local authorities are still not good enough.

The report argues that the DfE only intervenes when Ofsted has already found services for children are failing, and it does not use performance information to anticipate the risks of failure.

Analysis by the NAO revealed that spending on children's social work varies widely across England and is not related to quality. This can range from £340 per child in need in one authority, to £4,970 per child in need in another. The NAO said neither the DfE or local authorities understand why spending varies.

It also found that the DfE did not have up-to-date assurance on the quality of services for 32% of local authorities, and it has no data on outcomes for children who have been in need of help except for educational outcomes.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: ‘Six years have passed since the department recognised that children's services were not good enough. It is extremely disappointing that, after all its efforts, far too many children's services are still not good enough.

‘To achieve its new goal of improving the quality of all services by 2020 the department will need to inject more energy, pace and determination in delivering on its responsibilities.’

The report also found ‘wide variations’ between local authorities in the number of repeat child protection plans and rates of referrals accepted.

In response, cllr Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: ‘In 2008, 78% of children’s services were rated good or outstanding by Ofsted. It is notable that this figure has now dropped below 25%, over a period in which child protection reform and improvement has been largely removed from local government and increasingly centralised within Whitehall instead.

‘It’s vital to examine how DfE initiatives imposed on local authorities, such as children’s services trusts, are evaluated to check whether they are doing a better job of looking after vulnerable children, and use that evidence to develop future initiatives in partnership with councils.’

A Department for Education spokesperson said: 'Keeping children safe from harm is an absolute priority for this Government, which is why in July this year we published plans to deliver excellent children’s social care – strengthening protection for the most vulnerable children and transforming the support available to them.

'We are taking tough action to drive up standards in children’s services across the country, stepping in when councils aren’t doing well enough and linking them up with better performing local authorities to share best practice. We have also cut red tape so that social workers can spend more time actually supporting families.'

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Home Ownership Officer

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£29,000 - £39,200 per annum
Are you motivated by delivering excellent customer service, a varied workload and an opportunity to grow? Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Assistant Head of TriBorough Insurance

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£43,300 - £58,500 per annum
An opportunity to lead the Tri-Borough Insurance Service technical team reporting to the Head of Service. Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Educational Psychologist

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£41,200 - £55,800 per annum
Looking for a fully qualified educational psychologist registered with Social Work England, or eligible for such registration. Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Social Worker x2 (Blackheath and Rowley Community Social Work Team)

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£29,636 - £33,799 per annum
We are looking to recruit 2 full time (37 hours) permanent Social Workers in the Blackheath and Rowley Community Social Work Team.  Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Childcare Solicitors (career graded)

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£40,760 per annum progressing to Band I up to £49,538 per annum
You must have the ability to deal with a complex and demanding caseload, with excellent client care skills, and... Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue