Council’s children’s services ‘require improvement’ as vulnerable children do not get help fast enough, report finds

PUBLISHED: 12:28 31 August 2017 | UPDATED: 12:28 31 August 2017

North Somerset Council's children's services were inspected by Ofsted.

North Somerset Council's children's services were inspected by Ofsted.

Archant

Neglected children in North Somerset are not getting help quickly enough and opportunities to intervene are being missed, a report into the area’s children’s services has found.

The education watchdog Ofsted inspected North Somerset Council’s services for children in care and 
its safeguarding measures, and 
found three areas require improvement.

The council says making improvements is a priority, but work is becoming ‘increasingly challenging to deliver’ because of funding cuts.

The report, published on Friday, said: “Children sometimes wait too long in neglectful situations and assessments of parental capacity to change are too optimistic.

“Services put in place are not always effective in reducing risk to children experiencing neglect.

“This can sometimes lead to drift and delay and missed opportunities to intervene earlier.”

The Local Safeguarding Children Board, which is made up of the council and other partners, was found to be inadequate.

Ofsted says the service has improved since the last inspection in 2012, but that there are still ‘pockets of poor practice’.

MORE: Fears for abused and neglected children as social services close to ‘breaking point’.

Improvements have been held back by the high staff turnover and a lack of consistency in how children’s needs are assessed.

Sheila Smith, the council’s director of people and communities, said:

“The report acknowledges a number of areas of good practice and progress since the last inspection, most notably for adopted children and children leaving care as they move into adulthood and independent living.

“The inspection process and report have also given us the opportunity to reflect on areas where we still need to do more to improve to achieve a good 
rating.

“No parts of the services we provide are failing, but there are certainly areas where we need to continue to focus our attention.

“Work in this important area has been, like all parts of local government, subject to successive years of austerity and resources are diminishing while demand for support is increasing. This makes our work increasingly challenging to deliver against a backdrop of cuts.

“However, we are making delivery of these improvements our priority, and will continue to do so.”

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