Integrated children’s services must have social care focus, say directors

Education departments are significantly outperforming their
counterparts in children’s social services, according to the
comprehensive performance assessment for 2004, published last

In response, the Association of Directors of Social Services has
warned that councils will have to focus on children’s social
services if they want improvements in education to be recognised by
future, integrated inspections.

This was the final CPA based on separate ratings for education and
children’s social services. Education scored two points higher on
the four-point scale than children’s social services in almost
one-fifth of councils.

In a further 68 councils, education scores were one point higher.
By contrast, children’s social services performed better than
education in just six councils.

From this year, councils will receive a single rating for
children’s services, incorporating education and children’s social
care. Councils will have to perform well in both services to gain a
high score.

John Coughlan, chair of the ADSS children and families committee,
said the 2004 scores reflected the huge challenges facing social
care and the fact that “in recent years the focus of resources has
been on education”.

He said that having to perform well in both services to score
highly overall would focus councils’ attention on improving the
performance of children’s social services.

Overall, the CPA ratings for the 150 single tier and county
councils in England for 2004 showed a significant improvement in
councils’ performance, with 41 rated as excellent (compared with 26
in 2003), 60 as good (56), 33 as fair (40), 15 as weak (18) and
just one as poor (10).

The only “poor” council, Hull, has failed to improve its rating
since the system began in 2002 despite the intervention of
government trouble shooter Tony Allen in November 2003 following a
series of critical Audit Commission reports.

Allen will now work alongside new chief executive Kim Ryley until
improvements are made, but the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
has signalled that a failure to raise standards in the near future
could result in the council being “removed of powers”.

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