The quality of local authority children’s services and children’s homes in England has declined, according to figures released today.
Data on children’s social care inspections released by Ofsted show that more children’s services and children’s homes saw a decline in their Ofsted ratings than an improvement in 2014/15 when compared to their previous inspection.
While the inspectorate said changes to the way it inspects local authority children’s services makes a direct comparison difficult, its comparisons of how councils performed on child protection and work with looked-after children suggest “more decline than improvement in inspection judgments”.
Ofsted also reported a “modest” drop in the number of children’s homes that were rated good or better. In 2013/14 69% of homes were deemed good or outstanding, but in 2014/15 the percentage fell to 64%. In the same period the number of inadequate-rated children’s home rose from 6% to 9%.
Matthew Coffey, chief operating officer at Ofsted, said the decline in the quality of homes “is a cause for concern given the vulnerabilities of the children and young people they support”.
The data also showed that local authority run homes outperform those run by private or voluntary sector organisations. 70% of homes run by local authorities were good or outstanding compared to 62% of privately run homes and 64% of those run by voluntary organisations.
However the proportion of the 2,074 registered children’s homes that are run local authorities fell from 26% in 2013/14 to 23% in 2014/15.
Ofsted also reported little change in the overall number of children’s homes or their geographic distribution. London, the inspectorate noted, remains the region with the fewest children’s homes despite having the highest number of looked-after children.
There was more positive results for adoption and fostering agencies. 89% of voluntary adoption agencies were deemed good or outstanding and none were inadequate, while 84% of independent fostering agencies were good or outstanding and just 2% inadequate.
Adoption support agencies also performed well with 89% rated good or outstanding and none deemed inadequate.