Essex Council's child safeguarding services have been rated inadequate by Ofsted.
In its latest inspection report on Essex, Ofsted said that despite improvement since an unannounced inspection in November 2009, actions taken to improve initial and core assessments, child protection enquiries and child protection plans were inadequate.
In addition to the "background of serious failings" in Essex children's social care services, it also reported lack of scrutiny, insufficient challenges being set and ineffective leadership by both the Essex Safeguarding Children Board and Children's Trust Board. These "contributed to the overall failure of partners to provide robust safeguarding services".
Ofsted ordered the council to immediately improve the quality of analysis and recording of case directions, assessments, chronologies, child protection plans and child in need plans. Essex must also ensure that all Section 47 investigations are undertaken within timescales and initial assessments are not used inappropriately to investigate child protection concerns.
Services for looked-after children were rated adequate overall, with the council's capacity for improvement in this area receiving a good rating.
Ofsted said Essex had to improve and sustain the quality of assessment and planning in this area immediately. It added that all care plans must robustly and accurately identify and record risk and protective factors.
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