West Sussex County Council slammed for failing to protect children

A DAMNING report has been released slamming the work done to protect children in the county. West Sussex County Council has been rated as “performing poorly” by governing body Ofsted in its annual assessment of the council’s children’s services department.

The news comes just weeks after another report was published by Ofsted labelling the council’s efforts to safeguard children from neglect and abuse as “inadequate”.

In the annual assessment, the results of which were released on January 5, inspectors looked at crime levels, pregnancy levels, school results and the safeguarding of vulnerable children and those in care.

Inspectors claim not enough is being done and gave the council a mark of one out of four – the lowest score possible.

The report states that there are high numbers of young people being arrested and re-offending, and also claims five-year-olds are not performing well in assessments compared with national results. The inspectors judged services for children in care as adequate, but added that there are “too many children left without adequate protection”.

One part of the report reads: “Despite significant financial investment and recent reorganisation of services to improve the capacity and performance of children’s social care, assessments of children’s needs are still not regularly completed promptly, and the authority has not been successful in bringing about consistent improvements in the quality of social work practices.”

West Sussex County Council has reacted to the assessment by saying it will do all it can to improve.

It adds that the recent safeguarding report meant it was never going to get a rating of “good”.

A spokesman said: “The county council has already announced a comprehensive series of measures to urgently address this issue.

“Ofsted has said that an assessment of performing poorly does not mean there are no adequate or even good aspects to a local authority’s services for children and even a performing excellently rating does not mean all aspects are perfect.

“The assessment report for West Sussex says that the ‘very large majority of services, settings and institutions inspected by Ofsted are good or better’.

“It also says that the overall effectiveness of many services has improved since the last assessment.

“The county council is fully committed to delivering the best possible services it can to all children and young people.”