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Wiltshire's troubled child protection services are upgraded by Ofsted
12:30pm Friday 16th August 2013 in Latest News
Major improvements to Wiltshire’s Council’s child protection services have been recognised by Ofsted, with the council promising to do more to continue to improve its care for young people.
In March last year the council’s provision for vulnerable children was deemed inadequate by inspectors, but a recent surprise inspection has upgraded it to adequate.
Six inspectors assessed 120 randomly-selected cases in July, finding none which needed immediate attention. Last year three out of 90 cases were referred to higher authorities.
Cllr Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We are really pleased we have improved in such a short period of time.
The inspectors could see the improvements we made had an impact; it’s like a different organisation now, and that bodes well for the future.”
The report recognises improvements in child protection practices, and praises arrangements in place for young people in need of immediate protection.
However services for children at a lower risk were said to be underdeveloped, and still in need of improvement. The report states: “Too many cases were seen by inspectors where a timely assessment of emerging risk of harm to children and young people had not taken place.”
Terence Herbert, head of service community safeguarding at Wiltshire Council said: “Our focus was on the most vulnerable children and we have done that, and we have done it well.
“We know to ensure the plan we have in place for children in need, and we already have action plans in place about how we are going to do that.”
Since the inadequate inspection last year the council has hired 18 new social workers, and has vacancies for more to join. Two members of senior management have also left the council.
Council leader Jane Scott said: “This is a significant step forward and I am pleased that the improvements we put in place immediately following the first Ofsted inspection have shown how seriously we take the protection of children.
“In the next four years we aspire to be at least good if not outstanding, and that’s what we will continue to work towards.”
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