Laura Sharman 10 December 2020

New guidance to help councils scrutinise services for children in care

Councils have been urged to review their services for looked after children after a report highlighted variation in practice across the country.

A report published by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman highlights cases where looked after children have been let down by their local authority.

It includes a young man who was denied the chance to say goodbye to his dying mother, and siblings who were removed from the foster parents who wanted to adopt them without warning.

The report also shares best practice guidance for local authorities and sets out the questions council scrutiny committees should be asking.?

Michael King, local government and social care ombudsman, said: ‘While these cases reflect a time before the COVID-19 pandemic, we know the system is under even more pressure today. Although the councils’ actions in these cases were disappointing, we want to drive home the importance of learning from mistakes. In doing so this can help avoid repetitions and improve the lives and opportunities for all children in care.

’I am issuing this report so councils providing children’s services can use the learning and reflect on their procedures and processes.’

Cathy Ashley, chief executive of Family Rights Group, added: ‘This report highlights how poor decisions can be so damaging at a critical moment in the lives of children in care or at risk of care. It is particularly concerning given that more children are now in the care system than at any times since 1985, and the pandemic is increasing the pressure and strains on families and on children’s services.’

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