Damning report prompts a 'root and branch review'

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By Walsall Advertiser | Friday, August 03, 2012, 09:00

A GOVERNMENT inspection of Walsall Council's Safeguarding Children Service has given both the authority and its prospects for improvement the lowest rating of "inadequate".

Ofsted inspectors found the service was failing in significant areas, including assessing children's circumstances in sufficient depth, paying too little attention to the risk they faced and, in some cases, acting too slowly to take youngsters known to be at risk into care.

Portfolio holder for children's services with Walsall Council's coalition, Councillor Rachel Andrew, said: "Our children and young people deserve better and residents can be assured that the council – and its partners who are involved in safeguarding in Walsall – are conducting a root and branch review of our policies, processes and services and are determined to improve those found wanting by inspectors.

"We believe we do have the capacity to improve and the improvements required to safeguard children and young people will continue to be our number one priority."

Walsall Labour Group leader, Cllr Tim Oliver, added: "There can there be no worse condemnation of a town hall then to be told 'You are failing the children in your care'.

"This report is not just deeply disappointing; it is a bitter blow for all those families that rely on the service and for staff on the frontline.

"It is not enough to blame middle mangers and senior officers. Walsall Council as a whole must accept responsibility, including the political leadership, who should apologise for this state of affairs.

"What we need is a revolution whose starting point must be protecting and enhancing the lives of young people."

Walsall is one of a number of authorities to receive an "inadequate" judgement in recent months.

On July 4, The Local Government Chronicle reported that "five out of 24 councils whose safeguarding and looked-after children's services have been inspected in the past four months have been found inadequate".

Out of 22 specific areas assessed, inspectors judged eight to be "inadequate" – failing to meet minimum requirements; 12 as "adequate" – meeting minimum requirements and two as "good" and exceeding minimum requirements.

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  • Profile image for lookinginside

    No suprises here reading this article, Walsall children's services have been failing children in this area for a number of years now. Inadequate service, poor paperwork, failiures across the board in provided much needed services for vunerable children... The list goes on.

    All in all this report has in some cases done much more harm than good, instead of before where they were leaving at risk children in the care of people that they shouldn't have been left with, they are now reacting at the opposite end of the scale and threatening to remove or indeed in some cases removing children that are low risk citing unsubstantiated concerns, hearsay evidence and in some extreme cases producing "factual" evidence that hasn't been investigated properly.

    In a number of these cases the factual evidence that has been produced is in fact incorrect and this has lead to a number of children being wrtongly removed from the care of loving and capable parents.

    I of course welcome the Ofsted report, it has been long overdue as the inherant problems with Walsall children's services have been obvious to most observers for some time but I must say the reaction to this report by children's services is certainly at least, if not more questionable than some of the issues raised within it.

    I can only hope that the entire department takes a reflective look inwards at the way in which it has approached families who are clearly in need of support and have been turned away on a regular basis.

    The fault here is obviously the system that governs the entire children's services structure and response and I can only hope that this report will allow some light to be shed on the injustices that our boroughs most vunverable families and children have had to endure both now and in the past.


    By lookinginside at 09:32 on 08/08/12

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