Plan taking shape to keep control of Blackpool's children's services

Diane Booth
Diane Booth
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Ofsted inspectors are due back in Blackpool later this month as council chiefs battle to keep control of the town's children's services.

In January the department was branded inadequate by Ofsted which warned the council was failing to help some of the resort’s most vulnerable children who are living in "chronic neglect".

It was the second time in six years, the council’s Children’s Social Care Service has been rated inadequate.

An independent children's commissioner is due to be appointed this month who will consider whether to take the running of the service out of the council's hands.

Blackpool's director of children's services Diane Booth told a meeting of the council's Resilient Communities and Children's Scrutiny Committee: "The presumption is that children's services will be removed from local authority control unless there are compelling reasons not to do so.

"The independent commissioner will be seeking to determine the council's capacity and capability to improve itself."

She said the commissioner would then recommend whether or not the council could achieve long term sustainable improvement should it be allowed to retain control.

Ofsted is due back in Blackpool on Friday February 22 for face to face meetings with the council.

Ms Booth said a 12-week improvement plan was being laid out supported by around £1m of additional resources.

A new permanent head of children's safeguarding has also been appointed, and an improvement board involving senior members of the council has been established.

Ms Booth added in her report to the committee that regular monitoring will ensure there is "clear line of sight with regard to the quality of social work" and whether this is "effectively improving children's outcomes."

The Ofsted report warned some children are living "in neglectful circumstances for longer than they should, resulting in their needs often becoming more complex".

It also highlighted the response to young people who are homeless means some teens must resort to sofa-surfing or living in B&B accommodation, with the report warning this "increases their exposure to risk".

Concerns were also raised about child sexual exploitation, children who go missing and youngsters being absent from school.

But council chiefs said there was no indication in the report that children in Blackpool are not safe, which had been the case in 2012.