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
    month.

    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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