Medway Council slammed as 'inadequate' in Ofsted report into children
The way Medway Council deals with children in care is inadequate, a report reveals .
The damning Ofsted ruling comes just seven months after an inadequate rating in another part of the department.
Government inspectors examined 29 case files and said the council’s 400 children in care, some of the most vulnerable in the Towns, are not being monitored closely enough leading to possible missed opportunities.
Although no children were at immediate risk of harm, it said, many were not getting routine medical check-ups because they were never registered with a nurse.
GCSE results for children in care remain vastly worse than those from other backgrounds. Last year just 9% met the benchmark 5 A* to C grades including English and maths; the prediction for this year is 17%.
And 21% of those aged 16 have just left school and are unemployed, worse than the national average.
In one case, a boy was returned to his parents without a risk assessment taken.
In another, front-line social workers did not follow managers’ instructions to update their assessments of children’s needs.
The criticism has come despite extra money and new staff being brought into the department since January’s inspection, which looked at children’s safeguarding more generally.
Today’s report acknowledges improvements are being made but says they have not yet had time to bed in. “I don’t think there’s anything in the report that was a surprise,” said council chief executive Neil Davies.
He added: “The inspection report is critical but in many respects it was to be expected given our result in January.
“The care and safety of children in Medway remains our top priority and we’ve emphasised that repeatedly.”
The report does single out for praise the work of children’s services director Barbara Peacock, pictured, who joined the council in September 2012. She said the inspection was the council’s second under a new, unforgiving regime which is soon to be modified by Ofsted.
A new nurse would soon be in place to do medical check-ups, she added, and children’s services cabinet member Cllr Mike O’Brien (Con) is due to visit the Looked After Children Council, which allows those in care to have their say.
Other measures include a special training programme for dealing with Eastern European culture. And Ms Peacock would impress on staff the importance of doing paperwork thoroughly, she said, so children could not slip through the cracks.
- Click here for more Medway news
- Click here for more news from across the county