OFSTED this week published its inspection report into services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers with the overall damning judgment that Surrey County Council’s Children’s Services are “inadequate”. The report was produced following an inspection conducted in October and November 2014.
OFSTED inspectors found “widespread and serious failures that potentially leave children at risk of harm.” They were particularly critical of the inadequate leadership, management and governance of Children’s Services in Surrey.
The Inspectors found that a re-organisation of Children’s Services in March 2014 had resulted in a significant number of children not receiving an adequate service. For example, the service for children who go missing from home or care was judged inadequate as they do not always have a return interview to ensure that they are safe.
The County Council had also failed to demonstrate sufficient help for neglected children with child protection plans and many case records were found to be insufficiently up-to-date and detailed to show satisfactory support.
Liberal Democrat County Councillor Fiona White, said: “This report is a shocking wake-up call for the Conservative administration at County Hall. Protecting vulnerable children from harm should be a top priority for the County Council. Sadly, leadership and management have been severely lacking, which has put many vulnerable children at risk of harm.”
“I am pleased that the work to put things right is already underway as the County Council has started to implement the Inspectors' recommendations. Steps include improved training for social workers, better assessment and planning for looked after children and more support for care leavers. I will be continuing to work with the Conservative administration and representatives of other political groups to ensure that the report’s recommendations are fully implemented. I am also pressing the County Council to do much more to recruit and retain social workers in Surrey so that there are enough experienced social workers to provide the best service possible for Surrey’s children."
Cllr Fiona White concluded: “Surrey’s Conservative administration has brushed the problems in Children's Services under the carpet for far too long and must make significant changes. I hope that following the recent change in the Cabinet member responsible for Children’s Services in Surrey that this new leadership will result in rapid improvement.”
Cllr Fiona White, Liberal Democrat Councillor, Surrey County Council
Tel: 07896 575507; Email Fiona.White@surreycc.gov.uk