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Children’s Services Ofsted inspection

Liverpool City Council has committed to tackling failings identified in an Ofsted inspection of its Children’s Services department, which has ranked the service as ‘inadequate’ overall.

The inspection that took place in March covered all aspects of children’s social care and early help.

The outcome of the inspection is that Ofsted rated services as:

  • The experiences and progress of children who need help and protection – Inadequate
  • The experiences and progress of children in care – Requires Improvement to be good
  • The experiences and progress of care leavers – Inadequate
  • The impact of leaders on practice with children and families – Inadequate
  • Overall effectiveness – Inadequate

They raised concerns about capacity, workload, delays in ensuring the needs of children are met and child protection, concluding that there are ‘serious weaknesses for children who need help and protection, which leave children being harmed or at risk of harm’.

They have listed 11 areas of improvement including caseloads and supervision; identification and response to risk; the quality of social work practice; support, advice and guidance for care leavers, robustness of senior management oversight and the quality of information for care leavers.

On a more positive note, they found that the Council’s early help offer is ‘effective’, and the work to support children who are at risk of immediate harm, is ‘mostly swift’.

The response to homeless 16 and 17 year olds is praised, while children who go missing from education were found to be ‘robustly tracked and monitored’.

And most children in care were found to be ‘safe and settled where they live’, although some were found to wait too long for permanent matching.

The report notes that interim Chief Executive Theresa Grant has “substantially accelerated the pace of improvement through additional financial investment and securing increased social work capacity, and [that] work is under way to address placement sufficiency issues”.

They also recognised that governance and scrutiny arrangements have been strengthened to support a restructure of the service, and there have been successes in social work recruitment.

New Council Leader, Cllr Liam Robinson said: “I was deeply concerned to read the Ofsted report, and share the concerns of the whole city.

“We have been letting down our most vulnerable children and young people, as well as their families which is completely unacceptable.

“As a new Leader working with a new Cabinet and new Senior Management Team, we are determined to put this right.

“We have a new dedicated children’s social services lead, Cllr Liz Parsons, who has professional experience in this area, to help drive forward improvements.

“There is no greater responsibility for a Council than being the corporate parent for young people who need support, and we owe it to each and every one of them to deliver the best service we possibly can.”

In a joint statement, interim Chief Executive Theresa Grant and incoming Chief Executive Andrew Lewis, said: “We recognise that people will be rightly concerned about Ofsted’s findings.

“It is in no way a reflection of our frontline social care staff, who are absolutely dedicated to keeping our young people safe.

“A huge amount of work has been taking place in recent months to tackle the issues that have been identified.

“We have already made progress in creating additional capacity, and work is under way to implement a new social work practice model which will make a huge difference to the support that our most vulnerable young people receive.

“The Improvement Plan will be implemented later this year, overseen by a new Director of Children’s Services who we are currently out to recruitment for.”

The report can be read here:


What is being done to improve Children’s Services?

  • Additional financial support of £4.5 million to restructure the service
  • Four additional temporary teams created to create additional capacity, of which three will become permanent
  • Implementation of a new model of social work practice
  • Creation of new ‘family hubs’
  • Recruitment of 44 new social workers
  • Creation of six council-run residential homes

What happens next?

An improvement plan will be put in place by September, approved by the Department for Education and OFSTED.

An Improvement Board will be set up to oversee progress and track milestones.

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