Local safeguarding children boards in England will be inspected once every three years from 2009, it was revealed last week.
Safeguarding children will be one of very few service areas, none covering adult care, where councils and their partners will face a rolling programme of inspection under the new comprehensive area assessment (CAA) system (see box).
Ministers want to cut down the burden of inspection on public bodies by scrapping most rolling programmes. Instead, inspections will typically be triggered by evidence of poor or declining services, gaps in information on performance or risks to users, as is currently the case in adult social care.
An Audit Commission consultation paper on the CAA, published last week, also confirmed previous proposals for looked-after children’s services to be inspected every three years. In addition, Ofsted is planning to carry out “limited” annual site visits of local areas to “provide necessary assurance on safeguarding”.
The government is also considering a request from the probation inspectorate to inspect youth offending teams every three years, although on a much more slimmed down basis than at present.
Currently, local children’s services are inspected as a whole every three years, through joint area reviews, which will end this year, with the introduction of CAA in 2009.
Care Quality Commission
Adult social care star ratings will also be scrapped, though the new Care Quality Commission will continue to assess councils on their performance in adult services, which will inform the CAA.
John Fraser, director of quality, performance and methods at the Commission for Social Care Inspection, said CSCI and the Department of Health had decided a rolling programme of inspection for adult social care was not appropriate.
But Jacky Tiotto, senior national adviser for children, adult and health services at the Improvement and Development Agency, said councils should be inspected at least every three years on their responses to referrals about vulnerable adults.