Published: 09:30, 27 November 2015
The care of vulnerable children in Medway is still falling short of the expected standard, according to Government inspectors.
Two years after Medway Council’s safeguarding children’s development team were branded inadequate, an Ofsted report has given them a “requires improvement “ rating.
The month-long inspection scrutinised how children at risk of harm, neglect or abuse should be protected.
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While no widespread or serious failures that left youngsters at risk were found, there were still room to improve children who need help and protection.
Leadership, management and governance also needed to be worked on.
The report said outcomes for “looked after” children were improving and highlighted that the council had “gradually and sytematically tackled all the issues raised in Ofsted inspections of child protection and children looked after services undertaken in 2013”.
Video: Barbara Peacock, director of children and adult services at Medway
A significant turnaround was recognised in services for those leaving care, achieving a “good” rating as a result of high quality support care leavers.
The challenge of responding to children at risk of sexual exploitation has been nationally highlighted, and Ofsted found that in Medway, partnership arrangements for responding to the needs of these children were strong overall.
Barbara Peacock, the council’s director of children’s services, said: “I am very encouraged by the findings of the inspection and am pleased that all the efforts made by our staff and partners have been recognised.
"We know there is still more to do in our ongoing drive to raise standards and embed good, consistent practice.
“We have made many positive improvements in our services for children and families since 2013, and this has been reflected in improving outcomes for children and young people and strengthened partnership engagement.”
Video: Care of vulnerable children in Medway requires improvement
Cllr Mike O’Brien, head of children’s services, said: “This is a positive step in a long improvement programme which we are committed to and we will continue to strive to meet our ambition to be good in all we do.
"There are still improvements to be made and we will keep working hard to become ‘good’”
The council’s Labour group said that while children’s services were going in the “right direction” much more needed to be done.
Spokesman, Cllr Adam Price, said: “The report highlights a lack of consistency in service delivery.
"There is a long way to go to achieve the standards that the families and children of Medway deserve.”