Child services ‘failing’ again

Sue Harrison
Sue Harrison
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ANOTHER area of Blackpool’s children’s services looks set to fall short of national standards.

Councillors have been warned that following a damning inspection of child protection services, the town’s adoption and fostering services could be next to come under scrutiny.

Director of Children’s Services Sue Harrison told a special meeting of the council’s executive: “The situation is likely to trigger an inspection for looked after children, fostering and adoption.

“That is not looking good as the things we hadn’t done for children are the same across fostering and adoption – record keeping is not great and statutory visits have not been made.

“There is a likelihood we’ll get inadequate for that inspection as well.”

The meeting was called to allow councillors to raise issues and form a scrutiny panel following the Ofsted report, published last Friday, which branded child protection in the town “inadequate.”

Inspectors scrutinised 111 case files of which 10 were ordered to be reopened.

Now the council is reviewing all cases from the last six months.

Mrs Harrison told the town hall meeting: “What the inspectors found in the case files was poor practice.

“Since then, when we have looked at even more case files, we haven’t found anything different.

“It wasn’t that we were unlucky, they were typical of what we have got.”

Councillors agreed to form a new joint panel to monitor the progress of Children’s Services, co-chaired by Labour’s Coun Ivan Taylor and the Conservative’s Coun Don Clapham, with Lib Dem Coun Doug Green as vice-chairman.

Among the changes councillors called for were better links with schools when it came to identifying children at risk.

Coun Allan Matthews said: “Experience has shown me we have been less than responsive when something comes from a school.

“When a parent says something to a teacher, our response has fallen short on these issues.”

Coun Sarah Ridings, cabinet member for Children’s Services, said: “Education is only one part of it. Our relationship with health visitors and other agencies such as alcohol and drug abuse services is equally important.”