Government details next steps for failing children’s services

The Department for Children, Schools and Families has provided an update on its intentions towards failing children’s services in Cornwall, Doncaster and Essex and told Rotherham council it is in danger of receiving an improvement notice.

A recent unannounced inspection of Rotherham’s children’s services uncovered issues around the workload of social workers, quality assurance and information systems.

Chair of Rotherham’s Children’s Board, Councillor Shaun Wright said they had already brought in extra case workers and administration help for social workers, refreshed training around the Common Assessment Framework and introduced a new performance reporting system to monitor individual cases and caseloads.

“Our response to previous inspections has been rapid and we are confident that we are tackling all the issues raised by the DCSF,” Wright said.

Cornwall, which has been the centre of controversy for a number of months, has been directed to establish an improvement board by the DCSF.

Ministers are also starting the second phase of intervention into Doncaster’s children’s services, including the creation of a new children’s board with Peter Kemp as an independent chair.

A permanent director of children’s services is expected to be appointed by Doncaster council in the near future.

Ministers noted recent improvements in Essex, but said they intended to make further necessary interventions. The council has received a list of recommendations, including the creation of an improvement board and a revised improvement plan. Essex has until 10 December to make representations on these proposals.

Children and families minister Dawn Primarolo said: “The majority of children’s services are doing well and have dedicated staff who do an incredible job in very challenging circumstances. But I will take whatever action is necessary to ensure the safety of children and young people in these authorities and elsewhere including using statutory powers where it is right to do so”.

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