ENGLAND – Kent children services ‘making progress’, report finds

Kent County Council (KCC) is making “significant progress” in improving its heavily criticised children’s services, a report has found.

An Ofsted inspection last November concluded children had been left at risk of significant harm by inadequate services in almost every area.

In response, the authority drew up an action plan to address the failings.

A council report said there had been a “successful transformation” but there was still “considerable work to do”.

Following last year’s unannounced inspection, the council apologised and recruited a special team of 50 social workers at a cost of £2m to address the failings.

‘Low point’

Jenny Whittle, cabinet member for specialist children’s services, said: “We had social workers with huge case loads, we had a significant number of vacancies and children were waiting too long to be allocated a social worker.

“We did start from a low point but the issue was how quickly we could achieve that turnaround and I think we’ve done it very quickly.”

Ms Whittle said the priority now was to support struggling families in order to reduce the number of children being taken into care.

Councillor Gordon Cowan, the leader of the opposition Labour group, said it was an “easy task” to allocate cases to social workers but greater challenges lay ahead.

“You still have to place those children in care and you have got to make sure that once in care, the numbers can come down realistically,” he said.

“I have my doubts that will be the case just by pumping money in.”

The progress report will be considered by councillors on Wednesday.

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