The Children’s Services regulator, Ofsted, has rated Trafford Council’s Children’s Social Care Services ‘inadequate’ both for the ‘impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families’ and, also, for ‘overall effectiveness.’
Furthermore, the services ‘require improvement to be good’ around ‘children who need help and protection’ and also for ‘children in care and care leavers.’
This follows an inspection by Ofsted in March.
The leadership of Trafford Council has accepted the findings of the report and a series of measures have been agreed to improve the services including:
- Appointing a new cabinet member for Children’s Social Care;
- Bringing in an audit team to improve our quality assurance processes from 13 May;
- Recruiting additional temporary social workers and Family Support workers;
- Creating an Improvement Board; and
- Developing a full action plan.
Responding to the Inspector’s report, Trafford Council’s Chief Executive, Sara Todd, said:
This is a stark report – there is simply no getting away from that. Rather than shy away from the criticism, however, I want us to embrace the challenge that Ofsted has laid down. To fix a problem, we need to accept it, deal with it and respond to it.”
I would characterise Ofsted’s remarks as corporate criticisms of the service’s overall leadership and processes. Our teams work tirelessly to improve the lives of vulnerable children and young adults and they exemplify the very best of public service. Indeed, amid the criticisms there are also positive comments, recognising, for instance, that children at immediate risk of harm ‘receive timely assessment and intervention that makes them safer.”
Ms. Todd added:
These assessments are meant to be challenging and ultimately, both we and Ofsted want the same thing: To make our support for vulnerable children and young adults as good as it can be. We can fix this situation – and we will - refocusing our energies on raising the quality and reliability of everything we do, especially in this most critical of frontline services.”
Leader of Trafford Council, Andrew Western said:
We take Ofsted’s criticism incredibly seriously and we have already started making changes in response to it. This decline in standards in unacceptable and will be improved. I have made this top priority for my new administration and I am going to create a dedicated Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Care and this will be led by Deputy Leader, Catherine Hynes who will offer the leadership, support and challenge the service needs. We recognise that we need to come together to drive through change in our system and additional resources will need to be found."
Councillor Western added:
The next step is to set up an Improvement Board and present our detailed action plan to the DfE and Ofsted. We will ensure the improvement of our children’s social care services is an open and transparent process. Clearly, the inspectors found that the situation had been deteriorating over the last four years, and there is no getting away from the fact that some of this is down to a decade’s worth of central government cuts to vital local services.”
We have also seen a sharp increase in families struggling across Trafford, so I will be writing to the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, suggesting that children’s social care now needs to be ring-fenced and urge other councils through the Local Government Association to make the same point.”
Posted on Wednesday 8th May 2019