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Kent County Council services for young vulnerable children are good - Ofsted report

By Paul Francis

Inspectors have rated county council’s services for vulnerable children as good despite the burden of having to look after hundreds of child asylum seekers, a report released today shows.

Ofsted carried out a three week review of children's services at KCC in March, after which they said that children and their families were receiving good care in the face of pressures caused by young asylum seekers arriving in the county.

Ofsted said that in four of the areas inspected standards were good but in one - children who need help and protection - the service required improvement. The three areas rated good included adoption services; the help for so-called care leavers; and leadership and management.

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Kent has more missing vulnerable children than most other areas. Picture: SWNS.com
Kent has more missing vulnerable children than most other areas. Picture: SWNS.com

Inspectors said the council was delivering a good service and leaders and managers had “responded purposefully and methodically to service weaknesses.”

Their report said that the council had dealt with the increased demands caused by asylum seeker children effectively and that services were “well targeted” and social workers developed strong and constructive relationships with children.

At the same time, they highlighted that for a small number of children there were delays in recognising escalating risk, especially for children living in what were described as “neglectful circumstances or affected by domestic violence.”

On young asylum children, inspectors said social workers recognised the vulnerabilities of children and were effective in curbing the risks of trafficking, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation and possible radicalisation.

KCC has about 9,193 vulnerable children to look after with 1,176 of these these the subject of a care plan.

Between April 2015 and March 2016, Kent had 969 new unaccompanied asylum seeker referrals, nearly three times as many as the previous year and close to 30% of the national total. At its peak in December 2015, the number of asylum-seeking young people in Kent’s care had risen to 1,401.

The report comes after an inspection in 2013 found services to be adequate and an earlier one that said services were inadequate.

Kent County Council leader Paul Carter (Con)
Kent County Council leader Paul Carter (Con)

Cllr Paul Carter, the leader of KCC said: “Since our previous Ofsted inspection in 2013, we have worked extremely hard to get to this stage of which we can be proud.

The welfare of children and young people across this county is the council’s top priority. We are not complacent and will continue to work hard and improve the lives of children in Kent.”

Cllr Roger Gough, cabinet member for children, said:"There is always more to be done and we will continue to build on this and address the improvements needed within the service to ensure children and families receive the commitment they deserve.”

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