Rotherham reviews residential children’s homes after two found inadequate in a month

St Edmund's children's home was judged inadequate after it was found that safeguarding issues were overlooked

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A second Rotherham children’s home in a month has been judged inadequate, after it was found to leave young people vulnerable to “significant harm”.

An Ofsted inspection found that young people in St. Edmund’s children’s home “do not benefit from consistent support with their emotional health. Some individuals who have requested care coordinators have not been supported to access this service. As a result some young people continue to suffer poor mental health and remain anxious.”

Another children’s home run by Rotherham council, Woodview, was closed down last month after an Ofsted inspection found young people were “not kept safe” in the home. In both cases, risks around child sexual exploitation were identified.

The council is reviewing its residential care for young people following the two recent inadequate inspections, a spokesperson said. A plan of action to improve St Edmund’s children’s home was accepted by Ofsted, which will return to inspect progress before the New Year. The review will report in early 2016.

Not investigated

Safeguarding procedures were not followed in St. Edmund’s, Ofsted found, and this resulted in injuries to young people not being investigated.

“External monitoring processes have identified some themes; however vital safeguarding issues have been overlooked. As a result significant child protection concerns remained unassessed. This leaves young people vulnerable to significant harm,” the report found.

It added: “The information on general risk assessments and missing from home assessments is inconsistent. For example, in relation to child sexual exploitation, information and grading of risk varies. As a result understanding of risk is not demonstrated. It does not assist staff to make informed decisions and protect the vulnerable young people in this home.”

The home can house six young people, between the ages of 12 and 17, and can provide services for children with emotional or behavioural difficulties.

‘Undue stress’

The report identified how young people had also overheard staff conversations and views, such as discussions about future changes to the home, and this has caused “undue stress”. However, the report did note that staff received regular supervision, and felt well supported by management. Young people also enjoyed relationships with the staff.

Ian Thomas, Rotherham council’s strategic director of children and young people’s services, said:  “We have a duty to act always in [children’s] best interests, to protect and keep them safe from harm. Rotherham’s historical problems are well-documented. We cannot tackle overnight the years and years of systemic failings in our system, but we are taking significant steps to ensure our young people are receiving the right care, to the highest standards, in the right place, and at the right time for them. They deserve nothing less.”

He added that all the children who left Woodview children’s home when it was closed down were assessed by a child sexual exploitation specialist, who found no evidence of abuse.

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