Children’s services in Warwickshire ‘require improvement’

Shire Hall, where Warwickshire County Council sits
Shire Hall, where Warwickshire County Council sits

An Ofsted inspection has found services for vulnerable children in Warwickshire require improvement.

The inspection, published in a report on Friday July 14, found improvements were needed in services for children in need of help and protection, looked-after children, children who leave care, and quality of leadership.

However, inspectors rated the county’s adoption performance as ‘good’.

The overall rating for Warwickshire had gone down from the last inspection in 2011, where children’s services were rated as ‘good’.

The report pointed out problems with families and children who need early help getting the support they need at the right time, young people staying in custody for longer than they should, and mental health needs are not being met.

It also said risks were often identified and children were kept safe in almost all circumstances.

In their summary, Ofsted inspectors said: “Since the last full inspection of services for children in need of safeguarding and those in the care of Warwickshire, some areas of provision have not been sustained or made further progress.

“While early support and prevention are identified as priorities and there is an early help offer to families in place, the local authority cannot be assured it is helping all families and children who need early help at the right time.

Cllr Jeff Morgan, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services said: “We welcome the Ofsted report and its endorsement that children are safe in Warwickshire, as well as rating us ‘good’ on our adoption services.

“Children’s services in Warwickshire are transforming to achieve excellence.

“The report reflects where we are on our improvement journey and the recommendations Ofsted have made endorse and further strengthen our direction of travel.”

Cllr Morgan said the council was trying to strengthen its Early Help services, improving the electronic system for social workers, recruit more social workers and work with health services more to improve services.

Cllr Richard Chattaway, leader of the county’s Labour Group, said: “This is an extremely disappointing report for Warwickshire County Council, and it highlights how some of our most vulnerable children are not getting what they need.

“The Tory administration in Warwickshire has serious questions to answer about how and when we will see the improvements in children’s services. This needs to happen quickly.

“The most important thing is a rapid improvement of children’s services in the short-term.”