Vulnerable Sandwell children still being let down but service no longer 'inadequate' - Ofsted

Vulnerable children are still being let down in Sandwell despite Ofsted no longer rating children's services "inadequate".

Ofsted no longer rates Sandwell children's services "inadequate"
Ofsted no longer rates Sandwell children's services "inadequate"

Ofsted today published its findings after an inspection of Children’s Services in Sandwell in May.

Inspectors rated the services "require improvement to be good" and praised the leadership of The Children's Trust for turning the corner after more than a decade being "inadequate".

However, the inspectors reported: "Not all children experience effective social work practice, due to staff turnover, workload pressures, variation in management oversight and support and the effectiveness of partnership working.

"Some children remain in neglectful situations for too long and too many children enter care in an unplanned way and do not have their permanence arrangements confirmed."

Inspectors evaluated the progress of children in need of support and protection, children in the care of the Trust, as well as young people leaving care.

Since April 2018, children’s social care has been delivered by the Sandwell Children’s Trust on behalf of the council.

Inspectors found that “services are improving and there are no longer widespread and serious weaknesses in Sandwell”.

They also found “many of children’s needs are well met by social workers who collaborate effectively with partners in other services”.

There was good practice to support children at risk of exploitation and who go missing, and inspectors also praised how children being taught at home during the pandemic were treated.

Leader of Sandwell Council Councillor Kerrie Carmichael said: "We are focussed on giving children and young people the best possible start in life, so I am pleased this inspection shows that we have turned a corner.

"A number of recent national reviews have highlighted the challenges facing children’s services across the country, so it is hugely positive that this inspection shows we have taken a clear sign of significant progress.”

Such was the state of children's services in Sandwell the authority had to draft in a former Home Secretary to sort out the mess.

Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith

Chair of Sandwell Children’s Trust Jacqui Smith said: “This is a really big step for us in Sandwell Children’s Trust and we are now in a much better position with a stable management team who have rightly received praise throughout this report.

"Most importantly, we have much more stability for the majority of the children we are helping. The report recognises the pace of change has increased and affirms our own assessment of what further improvements to the service we need to deliver."

Cabinet member for children and education, Councillor Simon Hackett, said: "Keeping children safe and supporting them to thrive and flourish is not just the job of one organisation, and can only be achieved by working together.

"We now have clear plans in place that mean we can help families when issues first arise and although we are only still part way through our improvement journey, we are delivering a much better service to children and young people in Sandwell."

He added: "I want to thank our hard-working staff at the council and our partners, particularly Sandwell Children’s Trust for their dedication to supporting children and young people in Sandwell."

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