Children at risk of abuse are being better cared for by Kent County Council: Ofsted report
KCC turns around child
Vulnerable children in Kent at risk of abuse and neglect
are being better cared for after a £20m investment in services,
inspectors have revealed.
But more improvements are needed to ensure their long-term
welfare, a report has said.
Kent County Council's services for children at risk have been
rated as adequate by Ofsted, two years after a damning report said
safeguarding services were failing and exposing children to risk of
The council has spent millions on efforts to address the serious
shortcomings identified by inspectors in 2010.
In their latest report, which followed an unannounced visit in
December, inspectors say they found no cases of children who were
exposed to immediate risk.
They concluded children were "protected by effective initial
screening and prompt action by the council and police services" and
KCC now provided a "significantly improved response" when dealing
with children referred to them.
The report said: "Children requiring protection receive a more
assured initial response than previously, with risk identified in a
timely and effective way."
But Ofsted was critical of the high number of children in need
coming back into the care system, with one in four needing repeat
child protection plans.
It said "too often, interventions lack focus and there is drift
and delay" and planning for children in need was weak, with
"superficial assessments and a lack of specific and measurable
objectives and contingency plans."
In some cases, visits by social workers were not made for
several months and in a small number of cases it reviewed, Ofsted
said "children continued to live in potentially harmful
environments for too long."
These weaknesses were reflected in an increase to 26% from 15%
in the number of children needing repeat protection plans in a
year, considerably higher than many similar areas.
Despite this, Ofsted said morale among staff was good and social
workers' caseloads were at a manageable level.
Responding to the report, KCC said it was not complacent and
acknowledged more needed to be done.
Cllr Jenny Whittle (Con), cabinet member for specialist
children's services, said: "This report recognises what we have
done to raise standards but we are only part of the way along this
"We are committed to building on successes and addressing
weaknesses that remain to create the services the children and
families of Kent deserve."
She added: "Now we have to focus on cases of children in need to
ensure they get the services they need."
Council leader Paul Carter, who had said he would resign if
improvements were not made, said: "Despite our significant
achievements in raising standards, we are not complacent and
recognise more work needs to be done."
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