This has been going on for years (see previous article)…Time and again, OFSTED has criticised Salford Council's Children's Services over its "inadequate" services for supporting children and young people to stay safe.
In its latest report, which came from an unannounced inspection last August, OFSTED inspectors found cases with "significant delays" in identifying children who needed protection. It further stated that the delays have "the potential to reduce the effectiveness and timeliness of multi-agency child protection".
In five cases, inspectors couldn't even confirm from children's records that "action had been taken to ensure that they were not at risk of harm".
OFSTED also stated that Council strategies "are not sufficiently effective in managing and prioritising risk, and inspectors were unable to confirm from all case recording that the children concerned were safe".
While OFSTED also reported that Salford Children's Services was now "suitably staffed by qualified and experienced social workers", it identified nine `Areas For Development' and two `Areas For Priority Action'.
Salford Council stated this morning that its Children's Department had "addressed" all the issues "within 48 hours", but what would have happened had the OFSTED inspectors not brought matters to the Council's attention?
John Warmisham, Lead Member for Children's Services, also stated this morning that "The inspection has given me confidence that our work in improving services in this key area has been sustained and in the right direction. Our improvement programme is making progress and will include the recommendations from this latest inspection."
But where is our confidence in Councillor Warmisham that he's up for the job of overseeing this?
OFSTED concluded in its Annual Performance assessment in November 2007 that the "Council's services for supporting children and young people to stay safe are inadequate". Shortly after this, Councillor Warmisham explained to the Salford Star "The welfare of children in Salford is our paramount concern and we take our responsibilities extremely seriously…We appreciate that there are further improvements to be made and we're working closely with the Department for Children, Schools and Families to bring these about quickly and effectively."
Almost two years later OFSTED couldn't even confirm that from children's records they had seen "action had been taken to ensure that they were not at risk of harm".
The Salford Star is today calling for the resignation of both Jill Baker, Director of Children's Services and, as the accountable elected Lead Member for Children's Services, Councillor John Warmisham (see Roles and Responsibilities for Safeguarding Children here).
Read the full OFSTED Report here…
UPDATED HERE 4pm 11th Sept 2009
UPDATED HERE 9th December 2009