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  1. ITV Report

Control of Birmingham's Children's Services to be transferred to trust following failings

Children's services at one of the country's biggest councils is to be run by a voluntary trust following years of failings.

Birmingham Children's Services has been branded a "national disgrace" after a number of high-profile cases of child deaths.

The move - which the city council says is voluntary rather than imposed - is part of a "new model of children's services" which puts "social workers at its centre".

  • What happened at Birmingham's Children's Services?
The department has been severely criticised. Credit: PA Wire

It was described as a "national disgrace" three years ago by the head of Ofsted Michael Wilshaw and has been rated 'inadequate' since 2009.

This followed reviews into the preventable deaths of Khyra Ishaq, seven, and Keanu Williams, two, who were both killed by their parents.

Khyra Ishaq starved to death at her home in Handsworth in 2008

A Serious Case Review into the death of Keanu Williams in 2013 found he had become "invisible" to the authorities.

The toddler had 37 separate injuries on his body after suffering months of cruelty at the hands of his mother, Rebecca Shuttleworth, who was jailed for life for his murder.

Keanu Williams was beaten to death by his mother. Credit: West Midlands Police / PA Wire
A police image illustrating some of the 37 injuries identified on the body of Keanu Williams. Credit: West Midlands Police / PA Wire
Keanu Williams' mother Rebecca Shuttleworth was jailed for life in June 2013. Credit: PA

The report found he died "because there was failure across every agency to see, hear and respond to him in the context of what he was experiencing at any one point in time."

In October 2013 more than 10 social and health workers were sacked or resigned from their jobs following the damning verdict.

The head of children's services in Birmingham then admitted that 1,400 children were at risk because the council was unable to "guarantee the standard of safeguarding work".

  • Back in the spotlight after Keegan Downer murder
Baby Keegan was murdered by Kandyce Downer Credit: West Midlands Police

Birmingham's Children's Services were thrown back into the spotlight only a few weeks ago when Kandyce Downer, the legal guardian of 18-month-old Keegan Downer, was jailed for her murder.

In January last year that Kandyce Downer was awarded custody of Keegan under a Special Guardianship Order, on the recommendation of children's services.

This was despite concerns raised by Keegan's foster carer that Downer may have been motivated by money.

The children's services department's involvement in the life of Keegan Downer raised questions about how far the department has improved.

  • Trust control 'next logical step'
The council's statement. Credit: ITV News

Birmingham City Council said the decision to transfer children's services to a voluntary trust is the "next logical step" at the start of the third year of its "agreed improvement journey".

It added that the new model will put families "at the centre of social work" and is something it has been discussing "for some time" with the Department for Education.

  • Progress 'not gone far enough'

The Department for Education said Birmingham City Council has made "some improvement" but progress has "not gone far enough".

Although Birmingham City Council has made some improvements to the way it runs its children’s services, we know this progress has not gone far enough, fast enough.

The council recognises this and that’s why we are working together to look at the steps that now need to be taken to make sure children and families in Birmingham receive the best possible care and support.

The prime minister was clear that we cannot tolerate failure in children's services.

That is why we are looking at the best next steps including moving towards a voluntary trust.

– spokesperson, Department for Education