OFSTED carried out an inspection of services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers in Surrey in October and November 2014. Today it published its inspection report with the overall judgment thatSurrey County Council’s Children’s Services are “inadequate”.
In the report, OFSTED inspectors found “widespread and serious failures that potentially leave children at risk of harm.” They were particularly critical of the inadequate leadership, management and governance of Children’s Services in Surrey.
The Inspectors found that a reorganisation of Children’s Services in March 2014 had resulted in a significant number of children in need not receiving an adequate service. For example, the service for children who go missing from home or care was judged inadequate because the children do not always have a return interview to ensure that they are safe.
The County Council also had failed to demonstrate the impact for neglected children with child protection plans. Many case records for children were not up to date and lacked enough detail to show sufficient support to help children.
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition on Surrey County Council, Cllr Hazel Watson, said: “This report is a shocking wake up call for the Conservative administration at County Hall.”
She continued, “Protecting vulnerable children from harm should be the top priority for the County Council. Sadly the leadership and management in Surrey have been severely lacking, which has put such vulnerable children at risk of harm.”
Cllr Hazel Watson added: “The County Council has already started work to implement all of the recommendations made by the Inspectors. These include improved training for social workers, better assessment and planning for looked after children and more support for care leavers. I am pleased that the work to put things right is already underway.”
Cllr Hazel Watson will be continuing to work with the Conservative administration and representatives of other Political Groups to ensure that the report’s recommendations are fully implemented. She is also pressing the County Council to do much more to recruit and retain social workers in Surrey so that there are enough experienced social workers to provide the best service possible for Surrey’s children.
Cllr Hazel Watson concluded: “Surrey’s Conservative administration has to make significant improvements in Children’s Services as it has brushed the problems under the carpet for far too long. I hope that following the recent change in the Cabinet member responsible for Children’s Services in Surrey that this new leadership will result in rapid improvement.”