Calderdale Council has been rocked by news that the effectiveness of its child protection services is still inadequate.
Ofsted inspectors made the judgement following an inspection of the service in December 2012. The council’s children’s services had previously found to be inadequate in all areas in 2011 but the council has been working to turn this around which was acknowledged in the report.
Children’s services are assessed in three areas - quality of practice; leadership and governance; effectiveness of the help and protection provided to children, young people, families and carers.
While the latter two areas were found to be adequate, quality of practice was judged as inadequate and that dragged the whole report down to an inadequate level.
The report said the council had made significant improvements since 2011 with improved systems and a leadership team now firmly established - most notably with the appointment of Stuart Smith as director of children’s services.
Inspectors have said that social workers need to avoid being overloaded with work and complex cases should not be dealt with by inexperienced case workers.
They also asked that councillors have an improved understanding of the help children and families need and they should make sure “the right kind of help is available to all families in Calderdale”.
A council statement said: “Calderdale Council completely agree with the Ofsted view on what and where we need to focus our action. Whilst the council is obviously very disappointed with the overall judgement, it is pleased that significant progress has been recognised.
The statement added: “Calderdale Council takes very seriously its responsibility to ensure all children and young people in the borough are cared for and protected. No children were found to be at risk or unsafe during the inspection and the effectiveness of the help and protection provided to children, young people, families and carers by the Council was judged by Ofsted to be adequate. The Ofsted report has highlighted a number of areas for immediate action to improve the service and these are currently being implemented.
“Council Members were found to be well informed about looked after children and child protection issues in Calderdale. Corporate parenting has improved and Members focus should now be more on the children who are being supported by the service in their own homes.”
Read in-depth analysis of the report with more reaction from the council in Friday’s Courier.