The government has rejected calls from social care leaders to bring
child health and youth justice under the responsibility of the
proposed single children’s inspectorate.
A consultation on the inspectorate, launched last month, does not
mention the possibility of including health and youth justice, and
the Department for Education and Skills confirmed this week the
proposal was not under consideration.
Instead, the inspectorate would only cover children’s social care,
the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, and
adult education. It would merge Ofsted, the Commission for Social
Care Inspection’s children’s function and the Adult Learning
The news will come as a disappointment to CSCI, which has led calls
for the services to be included in the inspectorate to reflect the
integration of children’s services locally.
A DfES spokesperson said: “While health and youth justice services
are important to the well-being of children and young people,
services for children themselves are less easily distinguishable
from those of adults.”
He said including them could lead to duplication, for example
hospitals being inspected twice, once for adults and once for
But Ann Baxter, director of social services at Stockton-on-Tees
Council, said including health would encourage the NHS to
prioritise children’s services and that youth justice should also
be “on the table”.
Chris Stanley, head of youth crime at rehabilitation agency Nacro,
said it was unrealistic for youth justice to be included given the
current political climate, but stressed that the new children’s
inspectorate had to play a part in inspecting youth offending
He added: “Young people going through the criminal justice system
have considerable welfare needs and that needs recognising.”
There have also been renewed concerns about the government’s
determination to portray reform as an enlargement of Ofsted rather
than a merger with CSCI and the Adult Learning Inspectorate.
In the consultation paper, the DfES says it wants to “retain a
degree of continuity and association with Ofsted’s core values” and
maintain the Ofsted brand name.
Baxter said: “I would have liked to have seen a brand new
children’s inspectorate. It’s about ensuring all aspects of
children’s services are taken into account.”