Wakefield Council children’s services needs improvement, says report

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Children’s services at Wakefield Council need to be better, a watchdog has said.

Ofsted said services for looked after children and youngsters in need of help and protection required improvement, when it carried out an assessment in July.

Inspectors said social workers’ case loads were too high and some looked after children had to move “too many times” before finding a permanent home.

They said: “There are sometimes delays in providing the support that children and families need because social workers responsible for doing this have too many cases to deal with.

“Managers have started to respond to this by increasing the number of staff, but have not yet fully solved the problem.”

They said social workers and foster carers were good at making sure children were healthy and developed well.

But they said some children had to wait “too long” to receive support for their emotional well being.

And they ranked the leadership, management and governance of services as also requiring improvement.

The authority’s children’s services were last inspected in 2012.

And the inspection report praised the progress which had been made in the past four years.

It read: “Wakefield District Council has made some progress since the last inspection in 2012.

“The appointment of the current director of children’s services in 2013, led the way for significant cultural change in children’s services and, following a restructuring of the senior management team and implementation of a refreshed vision and strategy, services to children and families are now improving.”

It said the council supports children to do well at school and said the authority’s adoption service and progress of care leavers was good.

John Wilson, the council’s corporate director for children and young people, said: “The welfare of children and young people in our district is of paramount importance.

“The Ofsted report has highlighted that children in Wakefield are safe, that we listen to children and their views are taken into account when decisions are made.

“It is notable that one child is quoted in the report as saying ‘They are doing all right (the local authority), so everyone is safe’.

“I am pleased that Ofsted recognised managers have improved the way professionals work with families, which is supporting more families to stay together, where it is safe.”

He added: “We are committed to achieving the very best for all our young people. Continued improvement is the key to ensure that we are providing a consistently good-quality service.”