Child services chiefs: ‘We are getting better’

Ofsted Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw
Ofsted Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw
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Town hall bosses today said improvements were being made to children’s services in the resort after provision was rated “inadequate” last year.

Blackpool has been highlighted as being among 20 local authorities where standards of child protection are “unacceptably poor.”

Better training, more early intervention and a simpler system for people to report their concerns about children are among the changes which have been made, the council say.

The council is still working directly with the Department for Education and has yet to be re-inspected, but Coun Sarah Riding, Blackpool’s cabinet member for children and young people, said there had been a “real culture shift”.

She added: “The differences are tangible, for instance we now have a very clear referral system with just one number to call.

“We have a multi-agency approach which means 
other needs such as housing are part of the process, while early intervention includes things like the free 
breakfasts, dental care and health visitors.

“We know if we don’t take this approach, there are 
people who are very vulnerable who can slip through the net.

“It is a very optimistic time for social workers and there is new training in place.

“I think there has been a real culture shift and many practical changes as well as a lot more confidence from our workers to ask questions if they feel things aren’t right.”

Blackpool is among authorities singled out by Ofsted’s chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw.

In his first stand-alone social care annual report, he said children’s services need “strong and stable leadership” to improve the services that provide help, care and protection to children at risk of abuse or neglect.

Sir Michael said: “As it stands today, there are 20 councils where the standard of child protection is unacceptably poor and judged to be inadequate.

“Incompetent and ineffective leadership must be addressed quickly. But where those in leadership positions have capacity and potential, this must be recognised and nurtured.”