York’s Children’s Services have been judged as requiring improvement, according to the national inspectorate, Ofsted.
The widely anticipated judgement means services in many areas are deemed to be failing children and young people in York. The judgement follows a number of other poor judgements by Ofsted which have seen a gradual decline in the standard of council services supporting children in York over the past six years.
Labour’s shadow spokesperson for children’s services, Cllr Bob Webb said:
“What is most striking and most worrying about this judgement is the fact that earlier Ofsted instructions to make improvements have, overall, not been heeded.
“When a council is told services that exist to protect children from harm and reduce risk to those children are deteriorating, you’d hope that would be a wake-up call. In York that hasn’t been the case. This latest report is yet further evidence that the Liberal Democrats running the council have had their focus elsewhere and not on making the changes required to ensure children in York are protected.
“The Liberal Democrat council leader’s actions in response to this judgement will be a measure of whether he is finally prepared to lead and take this issue seriously after several years of ignoring the problem. York’s children cannot continue to wait for improvements, and significant changes must now be made as a matter of urgency”.
The ‘requires improvement’ judgement is believed to have been given above the lowest ‘inadequate’ rating only because the council was able to identify to inspectors a series of problem areas that require action.
After three consecutive judgements reflecting poorly on York’s children’s services, it was this openness that may have averted an inadequate rating and a direct Government takeover of York’s Children’s Services, added Cllr Webb.
In recent years Liberal Democrats have closed most Children’s Centres across York, cut over £1.5m from early intervention and other support services and been heavily reliant on expensive short-term agency social workers, rather than permanent staff. Due to a lack of oversight and strong political leadership, areas for improvement identified by Ofsted in 2018 are yet to be fully addressed, according this latest report.
York Children’s Services recently saw its two most senior officers leave the authority only a matter of months before the anticipated Ofsted inspection.
Labour MP for York Central, Rachael Maskell, reacted to the inspection report, commenting:
“It is right that we demand the very best for all children and families in York and ensure that they receive consistent and excellent services. We need to be confident that children are safe and secure and that they are at the very heart of all the decisions that are made with and for them. However, it is clear that the variations that have occurred in the service have been detrimental to some children and their families, and the pace of turning this around has been “too slow”. I am glad the report also highlighted challenges with CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) which must be addressed.
“The Lib Dems have been in power for 7 years and their choices have directly led to today’s report which highlights a “significant decline in the quality of children’s services in the city of York” since the last full Ofsted report in 2016, shortly after Labour left office. Instead of investing in children, the Lib Dem-Green Coalition have resorted to wasting £100,000s in eye-watering pay-offs and other pet projects.
“Labour is committed to giving children’s services the leadership and support it requires to build safe and secure families where children are loved and well cared for. To get to this point we need strong and consistent leadership and oversight. With Josh McAlister’s Independent Review of Children’s Social Care due out soon, the council will need to go on a further journey of improvement”.