September 29th, 2016

Council warns child protection groups after Ofsted mauling

Council warns child protection groups after Ofsted mauling Council warns child protection groups after Ofsted mauling
Updated: 4:54 pm, May 07, 2015

COUNCIL chiefs have called on child protection agencies to meet the growing challenges faced in children’s services.

Leader Coun Ann Lucas said partners needed to be held to account if they were not doing enough to keep city children safe.

The council leads the way in safeguarding but works with organisations including the police and health services.

All have come under heavy fire in recent months for the failure to step in and help Holbrooks four-year-old Daniel Pelka before he was murdered in March 2012.

It culminated in the council’s children’s services being branded inadequate by Ofsted.

And in a special meeting of Full Council earlier today (Thursday), Coun Lucas said a debate needed to be had into whether the authority should be given practical powers to hold partners to account.

She told them: “Step up to the challenge. It is crucial if we want to do the best possible job for children.

“I will hold partners to account if they’re not playing their part.”

Her comments echo those made by children’s services director Brian Walsh last month, who said funding could become a bottomless pit if all groups involved didn’t take responsibility.

Coun George Duggins – cabinet member for children – told the council there was no escaping the disappointing Ofsted report and the fact serious weaknesses outweighed any strengths.

But he praised city social workers, adding: “We recognise the work our staff do for the children of Coventry.

“People do not have to work in social care and we do need to keep an eye on recruitment and retention.”

In the 12 months up to March referrals jumped from around 3,000 to 4,700, and £5.6m is now set to be pumped into children’s services over the coming year.

An improvement board, to meet every six weeks, has also been set up while the location for a multi-agency safeguarding hub – where staff from different agencies work under one roof – could be realised in the autumn.

All schools are now informed of domestic abuse incidents at home with children’s centres to be included by the end of the month.

And Coun David Kershaw, head of education, said the changes proved the council meant business.

“When there have been similar tragedies elsewhere, in the aftermath there’s been a good deal of talk and promises.

“But this city council is going to act. We mean business and we’re going to move heaven and earth to make sure young people in this city are safe.”

Leader of the opposition Conservative group, Coun John Blundell, said the Ofsted report had shown city children could and should be safer.

But both parties agreed on a set of recommendations to take the council forward.

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