Wiltshire Council to improve failing children's services department
By warmyinwilts | Saturday, April 28, 2012, 19:56
Wiltshire Council will spend up to £500,000 in a bid to turn around its failing children's services department.
Children's services in Wiltshire to be improved following a recent Ofsted report
The extra investment was approved after an Ofsted report in March failed the safeguarding services run by Wiltshire Council in collaboration with the police and health authorities and other charitable organisations.
Council leader Jane Scott said: "We are treating this Ofsted Inspection extremely seriously and we have aligned resources within the council to ensure that we can implement changes and improvements with immediate effect."
Independent senior social workers are being paid to review the cases where children might be at risk, with over 400 cases already having been reviewed since the March inspection.
"Whilst we acknowledge a number of positives within the report, our unrelenting focus is on the rapid improvements that are needed. We are sorry that these failings have been highlighted in our services. The action we have taken, both during and following the inspection, has improved the protection of children and will continue to do so." said Carolyn Godfrey, the council's corporate director for children's services.
She said the extra funding would in part pay for the three auditor consultants who have been reviewing the case files and three social workers to cope with any increased referrals. The funding will also pay for additional managers.
An independent board will be set up to monitor the department's work more closely, while inspectors are expected to return in six to nine months to verify that progress has been made in the key areas.
The Ofsted report also criticised Wiltshire Police. It said: "The established practice by police of using Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 to hold some children or young person in custody where they have committed an offence is inappropriate."
But the report also accepted that Wiltshire Police's policy was under review and other out of hours support services were available from local services.