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Three-quarters of children's services departments 'not good enough'

Over the past year, less than a quarter of local authority children's departments inspected by Ofsted were found to be issuing effective social care services.

The inspectorate’s second Annual Social Care Report found that of the 43 children’s services inspections carried out in 2013/14, the standard of provision of care and protection across only 10 councils was given a rating of "good".

Of the remaining 33 authorities inspected, seven were rated as "inadequate" and 26 "required improvement". None were rated "outstanding".

Lily Caprani, director of strategy and policy at The Children’s Society, claimed it is "deeply worrying" that so many councils are providing sub-standard children’s social care.

"If three-quarters of schools were found to be failing, people would say this was a crisis and demand immediate action," she added. “Addressing the holes in the system should be a top priority.
“We welcome Ofsted strengthening its focus on child sexual exploitation and on children who go missing. But it is a concern that some services are still not recognising the risks children face and fail to respond appropriately. The government needs to ensure that local councils and safeguarding boards have the powers and funding to do their job properly."

Struggles in local authorities have coincided with Ofsted's introduction of a tougher single inspection framework in November 2013. In January, CYP Now revealed that nearly half of councils inspected under the new framework had experienced a fall in their rating.

Ofsted says many councils are struggling due to a rising demand for services and increasing financial pressures. It noted that during 2013/14 the number of looked-after children rose to its highest level since 1987 and there was a 12 per cent increase in the number of child protection plans. 

The inspectorate is calling on government to ensure LSCBs' role is strengthened with more power to oversee and take action on safeguarding matters locally. 

Debbie Jones, Ofsted’s national director for social care, said: “Inspectors have seen examples of high-quality practice, which puts the outcomes for children at the heart of decision making.

"These areas demonstrate that it can be done, so we urge other authorities to learn from their example.”