Birmingham Council’s failure to allocate every looked-after child to a social worker is illegal, the government has confirmed.
Ministers are to write to the council to set out the improvements they expect to see in its children’s services.
“Local authorities have a legal duty to allocate a social worker to every looked-after child and they should be providing all vulnerable children with support to address their needs,” a Department for Education spokesperson said. “The statistics relating to Birmingham’s provision for children in care are worrying.”
He added that ministers had already met council members to discuss improvements to children’s social care and a letter would follow to confirm the action plan.
If the council fails to turn the service around, it is likely the government will set up an improvement board, like the one at Doncaster Council, to drive through the changes and report directly to ministers.
More than 850 of Birmingham’s children in need – a quarter of the total – do not have an allocated social worker, Community Care has learned. Neither do 12% of children in care,
On 19 August 2010, Birmingham had 2,787 children-in-need cases allocated to a social worker and 852 that were not. Of the 1,999 looked-after children on the council’s books, 232 cases remained unallocated.
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