An Ofsted inspection into Nottingham City Council's Children's Services has found it "inadequate", according to a new report published today.
The inspection which took place from 4-22 July this year found that more work is needed to ensure that young people get the right care at the right time.
This is a lower rating than the previous ‘requires Improvement’ judgement by Ofsted in 2019.
The report identified some area's for improvement which include:
A quicker response when children are first identified as being at-risk
More social workers to support children and young people
More places for children who need to come into care
Greater support for people aged over 21 who leave care
More help for young people aged 16 and 17 who are homeless
Better monitoring of children who are absent from school
Although more work is needed, the inspectors acknowledged that improvements had already been made in Children’s Services. In particular, they found:
Children are well-supported once they are allocated a social worker. Strong relationships are formed between the social worker and the families they help
A clear process is in place to intervene when a child’s circumstances are not improving
Children are matched for adoption much more quickly and siblings are often adopted together
Foster carers provide consistent, good quality care
The emotional and mental health needs of children are being met
Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are well supported
The service works well with partners to provide the best outcomes for children and young people
During the visit, Inspectors noted that City Councillors and the Chief Executive remain committed to improving the quality of Children’s Services, despite the financial challenges being faced by the local authority.
An action plan to address the areas for improvement is now being drawn up by the council.
In a statement, a spokesperson from the council says it has "taken immediate action over the summer to make swift improvement in key areas".
Cllr Cheryl Barnard, Portfolio Holder for Children, Young People and Schools said: "I am sorry that some children are not getting the right help at the right time and I accept that our overall performance is not where it should be.
"Please be assured that everyone in our Children’s Services team is committed to providing the best possible care in our city – and will do whatever it takes to improve. Our children and young people deserve nothing less."
She adds: "We accept the findings of the report and are committed to improving – and will work with all concerned to continue to keep our children safe."
Rosa Waddingham, Chair of Nottingham City Safeguarding Children Partnership, said they recognise they need to act quicker when recruiting permanent staff.
She said: "The partnership is committed to keeping our children safe and recognised in advance of the Ofsted inspection some key areas where additional leadership and resource were needed to address concerns around how children initially access the care they need, including through our Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub.
"We also recognise that more pace is needed in recruiting additional permanent staff to support the changes needed to keep children safe.
"The partnership is keen to accelerate this work to continue to ensure that despite some failings children are not at increased risk."
"But there is more to do and as safeguarding partners we will continue to work collaboratively to support and deliver a comprehensive response to the challenges noted by Ofsted."
"We are assured that there is a plan in place to address these concerns and our partnership will continue to check that the actions needed to keep children safe are delivered."
The City Council will have a series of Ofsted monitoring visits, followed by a full re-inspection.
Between four and six monitoring visits are likely to be carried out over the next 18 months with the first one likely to take place late winter 2022 / early spring 2023.
The focus of the visits will be upon areas where improvement is most needed, but inspectors will also check that performance in other areas has not deteriorated.
Progress against the Children’s Services improvement plan is monitored and overseen by the Children at the Heart Improvement Board.
This will be led by an Independent Chair commissioned by the Department for Education to ensure robust challenge of improvement plan.