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Social workers stretched to the limit in helping youngsters

Social services director Graham Badman
Social services director Graham Badman

Budget constraints are sometimes leaving social workers over-stretched when it comes to their job of looking after the most vulnerable children in Kent, according to the county council’s children’s services director.

Graham Badman said that while he was confident the authority was doing all it could to minimise the dangers to children at risk, more money would improve the standard of care KCC was capable of offering.

He made his comments in a briefing to a meeting of a backbench committee of county councillors in the wake of the Baby P scandal. Mr Badman said no system could ever completely guarantee the safety of all children.

"Do we have procedures I am confident about? Yes, we do. Do we have the resources that I would wish? No, we do not. That is because in any process of dispensing public money, there is a rationing....and conflicting priorities that members have to balance," he said.

Social workers in Kent were often under pressure but there was no evidence that more children were being placed on the Child Protection Register, he added.

"But I would not wish to pretend that there are not occasions when social services staff are over-stretched. They cope because they are well managed and extraordinarily motivated. I think you can have some comfort that what you have in Kent is probably the best service you could against the budget that is allocated to it."

The perception that there was sometimes a reluctance among social workers to take children into care was often because "there was an extraordinary amount of evidence that suggests when you take children into the care system, their life chances are not as great as if they had been kept in the family setting," he said.

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