Adults’ services still improving faster

Children’s services continue to lag behind councils’ adult social care in improving performance, this year’s star ratings reveal.

More than three-quarters of councils are now serving most adults well, but only 63 per cent achieve this level in children’s services.

This compares with 60 per cent for adults and just over half for children last year. In 2002, the first year of star ratings, a third of councils were serving most adults and a third most children well.

For the second year running all councils are judged to be serving at least some adults well, but two – Plymouth and Sandwell – are not serving children well, compared with five last year.

Adult services have made big strides in improving joint working and financial arrangements with health and other agencies, and in demonstrating improved efficiency.

Their progress in making good quality information about services and standards available to all was also praised by the Commission for Social Care Inspection.

But they still need to work on their commissioning of services based on “sound analysis of local needs”, and their support for carers must also improve.

Their progress on ensuring services comply with legislation and value social inclusion was also questioned.

Children’s services have improved their performance in ensuring looked-after children receive health and dental assessments, as well as in reviewing children on the child protection register.

For the sixth year running councils also managed to reduce the number of children remaining on the register for two or more years.

But they have made little progress in reducing the gap between the educational achievement of looked-after children compared with that of all children.

Councils only managed to make a minor improvement in tackling the number of looked-after children who received final warnings, reprimands or convictions for committing offences.

The CSCI also said councils needed to do more to improve school absenteeism rates among children in care, and to improve the long-term stability of looked-after children; only half of those looked after in foster placements continuously for at least four years have stayed with the same carer for at least two years.

This is the last year of the combined star rating for councils’ children’s and adults’ social care. Adults’ services will continue to receive annual star ratings, while children’s services will receive an annual performance assessment, also covering education.

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