Anglesey children’s services criticised

THE council’s assessment of vulnerable children  on Anglesey has been strongly criticised by inspectors who say the service has failed to improve “over many years”.

A report from the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales describes a “poor” service suffering from “considerable” delays, for which future improvement is “uncertain”.

The inspectors, who visited the council in February and March, wrote: “The inspection found that the assessment and care management of children in Anglesey is poor.

“The quality of many assessments was poor.

“There were delays in assessing complex and serious cases.

“Assessments were not completed in a timely manner.

“The council has failed to achieve the necessary improvement over many years and it is uncertain if it will be able to do so in the future.”

While the report did not concentrate on the safeguarding of children, it warns: “The inspection provided evidence that indicates that there are serious failings regarding the safeguarding of children and consequently merits further inspection work.”

Case files seen by inspectors showed “no evidence of improvement,” they wrote.

Whereas 63% of core assessments in Wales were completed in 35 working days in 2009-10, the council’s performance in 2010-11 was 20% in the first quarter of the year, 25% in the second quarter and 25% in the third quarter.

Complex cases with a high level of risk suffered from “considerable” delays, inspectors found.

A core assessment of a 15-year-old girl previously assaulted by a parent and thought to misuse substances was begun on November 19, 2010.

The core assessment was still ongoing at the time of the inspection in March 2011.

Some assessments were said to have “made little analysis of needs and risk”.

In the case of a six-year-old girl whose mother was intoxicated while caring for her, the initial and core assessments “reflected only the mother’s views and presented these views as statements of facts”.

“None of the assessments covered the fact that the mother was sentenced to a 12-month probation order for neglect,” said the report.

T Gwyn Jones, director of housing and social services, said: “We fully take on board the findings of the CSSIW inspection and have already implemented a number of changes to address the improvements which need to be made.

“These include ensuring greater capacity within the service, closely monitoring performance improvements and improving quality assurance systems through rigorous audit.

“I’m pleased that our performance indicators are already showing an improvement and confident that with the continued commitment of our staff we can achieve a good level of service for children and young people in need on Anglesey.”

Margaret Foster, commissioner with responsibility for social services, said: “In a time of severe financial constraint, we will need to be innovative as we carry out the report’s recommendations, but I am grateful for the direction the CSSIW has provided and will be working closely with children’s services to help improve the timeliness and quality of assessment for children and young people in need.”