Youngsters ‘failed’ by ‘inadequate’ services

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Lancashire County Council is guilty of failing some of the most vulnerable children in the county and its children’s services are ‘inadequate’.

Three years ago the service was judged “good with outstanding features”.

At this stage our complete focus is on putting things right. We take full responsibility and we offer an unreserved apology

Today, a chastened council said ‘sorry’ following a damning Ofsted inspection report.

Ofsted visited the county, which provides services to Fylde and Wyre, for three weeks in September and October and summed up its conclusions in a hard-hitting 48-page report.

During its inspection three children who had been identified as “children in need” died. Ofsted said it was too soon to establish if the deaths could have been prevented.

But it concluded: “There are serious failures in the services provided to children who need help and protection.“

Now the Council says it will pump £5m into the service and has started recruiting social workers and support staff.

Chief Executive Jo Turton said Ofsted had been rightly critical but had also seen some areas of good practices. She said the council was “absolutely committed” to putting things right.

County Coun Matthew Tomlinson, cabinet member for children and young people, added: “At this stage our complete focus is on putting things right. We take full responsibility and we offer an unreserved apology.”

The report states:

Services for children who need help and protection are “inadequate”;

Leadership, management and governance is “inadequate”;

Services for looked after children “requires improvement” as does its adoption work;

The experiences and progress of young people leaving care is also deemed “inadequate; and

Significant staff turnover resulted in an inexperienced workforce and data systems were not working well.

Now, as work begins to implement improvement plans Ofsted will be making frequent return visits to the authority which is also receiving help from the Local Government Association and Department of Education.

Opposition Tory group leader County Coun Geoff Driver branded the report “shameful”.

He added: “My concern is the concern every single county councillors should be – to get the service back to what it was before, so the children of Lancashire receive the service and protection they are entitled to receive.”