Children’s services department needs to improve as youngsters wait too long for help

PUBLISHED: 16:00 01 September 2017

North Somerset Council's children's services were inspected by Ofsted.

North Somerset Council's children's services were inspected by Ofsted.

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Vulnerable children are waiting too long to get help from North Somerset Council and improvements are needed, inspectors have found.

The authority’s children’s services were examined by the education watchdog Ofsted, which has now said there are three areas in need of improvement.

Ofsted says while the service has improved since the last inspection in 2012, there are still ‘pockets of poor practice’.

Its report said: “Children sometimes wait too long in neglectful situations and assessments of parental capacity to change are too optimistic.

“Services put in place are not always effective in reducing risk to children experiencing neglect.

“This can sometimes lead to drift and delay and missed opportunities to intervene earlier.”

The council says improving is a priority, but funding cuts and increasing demand make its work ‘increasingly challenging to deliver’.

Ofsted said the Local Safeguarding Children Board, which is made up of the council and other partners, is inadequate.

It says overall the authority’s children’s services have improved since the last inspection in 2012.

But improvements have been held back by the high staff turnover and a lack of consistency in how children’s needs are assessed.

Sheila Smith, the council’s director of people and communities, said: “The report acknowledges a number of areas of good practice and progress since the last inspection, most notably for adopted children and children leaving care as they move into adulthood and independent living.

“The inspection process and report have also given us the opportunity to reflect on areas where we still need to do more to improve to achieve a good rating.

“No parts of the services we provide are failing, but there are certainly areas where we need to continue to focus our attention.

“Work in this important area has been, like all parts of local government, subject to successive years of austerity and resources are diminishing while demand for support is increasing. This makes our work increasingly challenging to deliver against a backdrop of cuts.

“However, we are making delivery of these improvements our priority, and will continue to do so.”

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