Children’s services heading in right direction, says KCC

Child protection chiefs say Kent County Council is already making improvements in response to the authority’s recent ‘inadequate’ Ofsted inspection.

Areas of particular concern raised after a two-week inspection in October included the management and supervision of services, low educational attainment of looked-after children, high number of cases not receiving quality assessments, and social workers with high case loads.

The ‘inadequate’ rating was the main reason KCC was marked as ‘poor’ for its overall children’s social services department in Ofsted’s annual inspection.

But speaking at a full council meeting last week, leader Paul Carter assured his fellow members that things were already heading in the right direction again.

He said: “When I received the Ofsted report on safeguarding and looked after children services, my immediate response was one of shock, anger and determination to put it right as fast as possible.

“However, there are some things we can do quickly and radically – others take longer to do.

“One thing is for sure – we are totally dependent on our front-line staff delivering good quality services to families and support for looked-after children.

“We need to improve our efforts to ensure we have the best quality staff. In our submission to the Department for Education we have listed eight or nine key activities alongside more detailed action to unpick what went wrong and find better solutions to put it right.”

Cllr Carter was one of several to meet with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, Tim Loughton, earlier this month, who was said to have been impressed by the progress made so far.

He added: “We have three new senior managers starting. I have met two of them – Malcolm Newsam from Bedfordshire, who was the leading driver in Essex, and Pam Rowe, who has taken Surrey from inadequate to adequate.

“They have come on the market in our hour of need when we need to add to the quality and capacity in our management structures, challenging new faces and existing faces, so that the recovery plan transforms the services as quickly as possible.

“We have to put in place the right services to make that recovery plan happen and they will be visiting teams over the next few weeks to talk to them about what went wrong.”