CHILDREN’S services run by Kent County Council have been rated as “adequate” by Ofsted, two years after it found hundreds of children were at risk of significant harm.
Ofsted inspectors spent eight days with staff, children and parents around the county and found the council’s children safeguarding services have greatly improved since the inspection in October 2010.
During the inspection, a random sample of around 200 children found no youngsters who were ‘left at risk of, or suffering from, significant harm’.
Key improvements recognised by Ofsted since its last inspection include:
- The new Central Referral Unit, which brings several agencies together, had improved the way it responds to children referred with child protection concerns.
- Early intervention services have improved.
- Huge efforts have gone into improving staff levels.
- Social worker caseloads have been reduced to ‘manageable’ levels.
- There are clear thresholds for referral of children and the right children are getting the right services.
- Social workers have good morale and feel safer working at KCC than before.
The inspection comes under the new, tougher Ofsted inspection framework where a third of local authorities have been found to be inadequate.
Ofsted said improvements KCC needs to make include getting the right help for children who are not at risk but who need extra help and more detailed and measurable plans are required for children in need.
KCC welcomes all the findings of the report and acknowledges much more work needs to be done.
Its corporate director for families and social care, Andrew Ireland, said: “This report demonstrates both the degree of improvement that has taken place since the inspection of 2010 and how much work there remains to do to ensure that the improvements are sustained and that the level and pace of improvement continues.
“Staff have shown great commitment and have worked extremely hard to achieve this judgement but know also where the areas are where we must focus our attention.
“There is no complacency and the council is determined to build upon what has been recognised in this report.”