Ofsted has branded more than three quarters of children’s services departments either inadequate or in need of improvement.
Between April 2013 and September 2014, the regulators visited over 5,600 children’s service providers run by various local authorities throughout the country. These included children’s homes, adoption support agencies, residential family centres and fostering agencies.
Out of the 43 local authorities inspected during that time, only ten were judged to be providing high quality care for children. The report claimed that 26 authorities were in need of improvement and a further seven were deemed “inadequate”.
Ofsted claims that demand for children’s services is on the rise. Over the same time period covered by the report, the number of referrals to social services by someone concerned about a child rose by 11 per cent and child protection investigations rose by 12 per cent.
In 2013, Ofsted dubbed child protection services in Birmingham a “national disgrace”. Its local authority was one of the seven cited in the latest report as inadequate. The others were Buckinghamshire, Coventry, Knowsley, Manchester, Rotherham and Slough.
Alan Wood is the president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS). He criticised the report’s findings as “simply not credible” and said that this country “has one of the safest child protection systems in the developed world”. The report “tells a partial and excessively negative story, which runs the risk of weakening the very services it seeks to improve”, he claimed.
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