A MAJOR review of the safety and welfare of young people in care in Worcestershire has been launched following a damning report from Ofsted, writes Joshua Godfrey.
Worcestershire County Council was lambasted in January in a scathing report which highlighted ‘widespread and serious failures’ in the service provided by County Hall chiefs.
The review could mean the County Council is stripped of control of children’s services.
However, the Conservative leadership at County Hall said they have the ‘strength’ to deliver ‘good and safe services.’
Trevor Doughty, the Director of Children, Families and Adults at Cornwall Council, has been appointed by the Department of Education to carry out an independent review and will present his findings to ministers by June 8.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting last Thursday (April 7) Coun Marc Bayliss, the cabinet member for children and families, updated the cabinet on progress made since the report and said the authority would shortly submit its improvement plan.
“Cabinet will of course recall Ofsted’s judgment in January was that children’s social care was inadequate – a judgement which was obviously hard-hitting and one which we have taken at Ofsted’s word and have been working very hard in order to put in place necessary activities to rectify that situation as quickly as possible,” he said.
During Mr Doughty’s review, the County Council will have to prove it has made progress in addressing the failures detailed in Ofsted’s inspection report.
Coun Bayliss added he was ‘absolutely confident’ the County Council could prove the ‘best way forward’ is the authority continuing to deliver children’s services.
“We’re working really hard with Trevor and his team, which he is bringing from Cornwall, to provide him with the evidence that I am absolutely confident will show Worcestershire County Council continuing to deliver this service is the best way forward,” he added.
“If there was an alternative like a children’s trust, if there’s any evidence a children’s trust would provide a better outcome for our young people in our care then we would be open to that.
“But, there is no evidence of that, no objective evidence that proves that is the case.
“I strongly believe, under the leadership of Catherine Driscoll and Tina Russell, we have the strength to actually show that under Worcestershire County Council’s leadership, we can deliver good services and safe services,” he added.
In response, Coun Liz Tucker, Liberal Democrat group leader and candidate for Pershore, said: “The whole thing has been a shock to us all. But it’s very clear to everyone that the whole kitchen sink is going into this one.”