Council failings place children at risk

Poor services at Halton council in Cheshire are placing
vulnerable children and older people at risk, according to a new
joint review by the Audit Commission and Social Services
Inspectorate, writes Craig Kenny.

The council’s social services department is criticised for
taking too long to assess children, for its very high
re-registration rates on the at risk register and very low
compliance with six-weekly visits to children on the register. In
March 2001, only 88 per cent of child protection reviews were
done on time.

Older people also endured delays in discharge from hospital,
long waits for aids and adaptations in the home, and limited home
support, the report says.

High numbers of looked after children were being placed with
foster carers outside the borough, and placements were increasingly
breaking down. On leaving care, there were often delays in
appointing social workers and problems finding suitable

Service users were more unsatisfied than in most other councils
which had been inspected, the report notes.

The inspectors noted encouraging initiatives to extend intensive
home care, and a new rapid access rehabilitation service.

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