Thomas Bridge 14 May 2015

County says ‘sorry’ to local children after third critical inspection

A county has apologised to local children after its services were rated ‘inadequate’ for the third time in five years by inspectors.

Cumbria County Council has pledged to rapidly improve its children’s services following a damning report by Ofsted that warned children in care were not being sufficiently prioritised.

Inspectors said the local authority’s children’s services remained ‘inadequate’ after two previous reports in April 2012 and May 2013 also gave local work the lowest possible rating.

The council was told local weaknesses should have been spotted and acted upon ‘sooner’.

However while previous inspections raised concerns about the safety of protected children, Ofsted welcomed said children were now no longer being left at risk.

It also highlighted strengths in the local leadership, which has maintained investment in children’s services at a time of financial austerity. Cumbria was also applauded for its openness to scrutiny and the efforts of its chief executive and children’s services director in driving improvement.

Cllr Anne Burns, cabinet member for children’s services, said the result was ‘not acceptable’.

‘We are determined to ensure that the weaknesses identified in this report are dealt with quickly, and I think it’s important to apologise to those children in our care who have not received the quality of service that they deserve,’ she added.

‘I am confident, given our experiences in turning around safeguarding and child protection services, that we can rapidly make the improvements that are needed.’

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