CHILDREN’S services provided by Worcestershire County Council have been rated ‘inadequate’ in a damning report from Government inspectors.
OfSTED revealed their findings on Tuesday (January 24) and highlighted ‘widespread and serious failures’ in the services offered to young people who need help and protection.
An inspection took place in October and November last year into the county’s services which include children in care, in need of protection and those who have left the care system.
The report is a devastating blow to County Hall chiefs coming just over six years after it was rated inadequate during a previous inspection.
An improvement notice issued at the time was lifted in 2012 when services were judged to be adequate but now it appears the authority is back to square one.
The report states: “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,” it added.
Inspectors also slammed the creation of a ‘safeguarding improvement board’ by County Hall chiefs and said it had not tackled poor working practices and claimed there continued to be a lack of management of children’s services.
“Senior leaders were unaware of the critical issues that were identified by inspectors during the inspection,” the report read.
“Inconsistent leadership and an insufficient number of staff at all levels have contributed to a fundamental weakness in practice.”
Issues such as challenges in recruiting good quality social workers has affected the ability to drive improvements
“Too many children have been left in situations of escalating risk without becoming looked after,” the report read.
Shockingly, children who require protection from harm and who need urgent improvement in their lives are left in ‘situations of actual and escalating risk of significant harm’ according to the report.
Too many care leavers are living in inappropriate accomodation while half are not in education, employment or training according to inspectors.
“More needs to be done to ensure that the health needs of children looked after and care leavers are fully understood and met,” the report added.
Inspectors noted during the inspection there was strong political support for change and the pace of tackling the problems had increased.
“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,” the report added.