Audit Commission finds children services are declining in quality

Children’s services were the only council service area to see performance decline on average last year, the Audit Commission said today as it published its annual comprehensive performance assessment.

Twenty two of the 150 councils saw their performance in children’s services decline, while it had the lowest proportion of top-rated councils of any service area.

As reported last December, Ofsted’s annual performance assessment of children’s services for 2008 found the proportion of councils rated good or outstanding declined from 78% to 73%.

DCSF intervenes in nine councils

The Department for Children, Schools and Families is intervening in nine councils judged to be inadequate on safeguarding or overall in last year’s APA, including Haringey and Doncaster.

By contrast, the Commission for Social Care Inspection reported last November that councils had improved for the sixth year running in adult services. In the annual star ratings, the proportion of authorities gaining the top three-star rating rose from 32% to 37%.

The CPA is an overall annual appraisal of councils, which amalgamates the APA, star ratings and other judgements on services with an assessment of councils’ corporate performance.

New system

From April, CPA, the APA and star ratings will be replaced by the comprehensive area assessment, though councils will still be assessed separately on their children’s and adult services, by Ofsted and the new Care Quality Commission respectively.

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