'Poor' child care at 20 councils

One in seven councils in England are "inadequate" at caring for some of the most vulnerable children in society, an Ofsted report found.

Latest ITV News reports

Birmingham council admits 'long-standing problem'

A spokesman for Birmingham City Council, which was singled out for criticism in Ofsted's report on child protection, has acknowledged that there is a long-standing problem:

We are already on record as saying that we have failed to meet the basic expectation of keeping vulnerable children in this city safe.

This is a long-standing problem which we acknowledge and the leader has said that improving children's services is his number one priority.

While we can only agree with the seriousness of what Sir Michael [Wilshaw] has said with regard to children's services - indeed we have said it ourselves - we now need improvement rather than further diagnosis lacking any offer of solutions.

– birmingham city council spokesman

Read: Failing Birmingham council 'should be split'

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Failing Birmingham council 'should be split'

The Chief Inspector at Ofsted has highlighted Birmingham as one of the worst councils for child protection.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said: "We've allowed failure to go and on and on in Birmingham for far too long.

"The stats are there to see, it points to endemic failure. This isn't good enough and children are at risk, now is the time for central government to do something about it and see if local government is working. If it's not working then I'm calling on central government to break Birmingham up."

Watch: 1,400 at risk children 'are not safe' in Birmingham

Child protection 'let down by Government cuts'

How many children need to suffer and how many reports highlighting the dangers inherent in child protection services do we need before the Government takes action?

UNISON has warned time and again that staff freezes, unmanageable case loads and a massive increase in referrals are a toxic combination and vulnerable children are suffering as a result.

This Government is cutting budgets so hard that councils are faced with impossible choices of where the axe should fall.

– Helga Pile, UNISON National Officer for Social Workers

'Lack of stable leadership' at struggling councils

An Ofsted report said inspectors found that a persistent absence of stable leadership was a feature of most ‘inadequate’ local authorities. It said that in the weakest places:

  • The most basic acceptable practice was not in place
  • Supervision, management oversight, purposeful work with families and decisive action where children were at risk from harm were ineffective
  • The views of children and families were rarely considered
  • Support from key statutory partners – health, police, schools – was weak and poorly co-ordinated
  • Managers did not appear to have a firm understanding of what constituted good practice

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'Incompetent' leadership blamed for poor care

Ofsted, which inspects children's social care including child protective services, said more needs to be done to address "incompetent and ineffective" leadership in children's services.

Some managers do not have a "firm understanding" of what constitutes good practice, the watchdog said.

Ofsted said more needs to be done to address "incompetent and ineffective" leadership in children's services.
Ofsted said more needs to be done to address "incompetent and ineffective" leadership in children's services. Credit: ITV News

In its first stand-alone social care annual report, Ofsted said that children's services need "strong and stable leadership" to improve the services that provide help, care and protection to children at risk of abuse or neglect.

Inspectors found that in the weakest places many "basic acceptable practices" were not in place and some authorities were criticised for poor coordination with health workers, police and schools.

Calls for 'incompetent leadership' to be addressed

Incompetent and ineffective leadership must be addressed quickly. But where those in leadership positions have capacity and potential, this must be recognised and nurtured.

Too much leadership volatility in social care is counter-productive - that goes without saying. One in three local authorities has had a change in their director of children's services last year alone.

The combination of unstable communities and political and managerial instability in our social care services is a dangerous mix.

– HM chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw

Full list of 20 councils with 'inadequate' child protection

The standard of child protection services at 20 councils has been judged to be "inadequate" by watchdog Ofsted.

The full list of the failing local authorities:

  • Barnsley
  • Bexley
  • Birmingham
  • Blackpool
  • Calderdale
  • Cambridgeshire
  • Cheshire East
  • Cumbria
  • Devon
  • Doncaster
  • Herefordshire
  • Isle of Wight
  • Kingston upon Thames
  • Medway
  • Norfolk
  • Northamptonshire
  • Rochdale
  • Sandwell
  • Slough
  • Somerset

Child protection at 20 councils is 'unacceptably poor'

One in seven councils in England are "inadequate" at caring for some of the most vulnerable children in society, a report has found.

The standard of child protection at 20 of England's 152 local authorities is "unacceptably poor", Ofsted has warned.

Only one in four local authorities are judged to be "good" at safeguarding children, a new report by the watchdog has concluded.