‘Concern’ over 540 child cases in Kent

A review of Kent’s child protection services has identified more than 500 cases which raise cause for concern.

The cases came to light after an Ofsted report in November concluded children had been left at risk of significant harm by inadequate services.

Kent County Council (KCC) said it had put management plans in place for 541 cases out of 5,976 reviewed so far.

Its managing director of children’s services, Rosalind Turner, is to take voluntary redundancy.

The Ofsted report said services for looked after children in Kent were inadequate, as were KCC’s safeguarding services.

It said said there had been a high number of inappropriate referrals in the area of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, and insufficient use of early intervention.

KCC apologised and said it would review all of its 7,000 active cases.

The review has identified problems, including “drift” in care planning and delays in decision making.

“At this moment, vulnerable children in Kent are perhaps not as safe as they should be,” Unison union representative David Lloyd said.

Council leader Paul Carter said: “There were a number of issues over the last three, four or five years where we weren’t rigorous in applying the necessary discipline around front-line social care.

“We have got to be religious in making sure those disciplines are instilled in front-line practice.”

A cabinet meeting on Monday was told changes to children’s services were the council’s top priority.

Recruiting new qualified staff was key to making improvements, councillors were told.