The UK’s largest local authority will invest an additional £9 million in child protection, with an annual £6 million in additional funding set to follow in subsequent years. The council has also promised to introduce new systems designed to increase cooperation between all local professionals working with children, including the police, social workers, health visitors and nursery workers, an approach dubbed “integrated transformation”.
Alternatives considered by councillors included outsourcing its children’s services department, setting up a trust answerable to the Department for Education and even breaking up responsibility for the West Midlands metropolis between smaller, regional departments.
In October, the city’s 23rd serious case review examined the circumstances surrounding the death of two year-old Keanu Williams. The report concluded that the council had missed a “significant” number of chances to save the boy from violence and abuse at the hands of his mother.
Later that month, Sir Michael Wilshaw, Chief Inspector of Ofsted, branded the city “a national disgrace”, asking:
“Why is it that infant mortality is almost twice the national average, worse than in Cuba and on a par with Latvia and Chile?”
Councillor Brigid Jones is the council’s cabinet member for children and family services. She said: “It is clear we cannot go on with years of initiatives and restructures resulting in little or no change. This strategy acknowledges but draws a line under what has gone before and sets out clearly and unambiguously that the future lies in an integrated system for joint commissioning and delivery of children’s services. We have the capacity and ability to succeed, but we do need to have the right support in place and that will come from a network of partners from the public, private and voluntary sectors.”