Ministers have increased intervention in children’s services at Wokingham, Reading and West Sussex councils following external reviews.
Wokingham will become the latest authority to be overseen by an improvement board. It must prepare an improvement plan by 31 July; its progress will be monitored by the board, chaired by Cheryl Miller, chief executive of East Sussex Council.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families has announced that it has also sent external consultants to support managers at Wokingham, Reading and West Sussex councils. The appointment of the experts follows a similar move recently at Surrey.
Poor Ofsted ratings
All four councils received poor annual performance assessments from Ofsted in December, when they were rated as “inadequate” in safeguarding.
PricewaterhouseCoopers has been appointed to assist safeguarding services across Wokingham, Reading, and NHS Berkshire West Primary Care Trust.
Alan Simpson Consultants and Sanctuary Personnel will help managers at West Sussex Council, which has announced a £6m plan to remodel services into family support teams. The restructure is expected to make net savings of £6m over three years by reducing the number of children in long-term care.
Targets must be met
Surrey, West Sussex, Essex and Birmingham councils have also been issued with improvement notices, which set a series of targets in areas such as social worker recruitment and retention and assessments.
Failure to meet the targets by various stages in 2010 could result in some or all of the councils’ children’s services being outsourced.
Improvement notices for: