CHILDREN’s services in Lancashire have been condemned as “inadequate” and “requiring improvement”.
The damning judgement by OFSTED inspectors follows an inspection in September and October.
During the inspection three children who had been identified as “children in need” died. OFSTED said it was too soon to establish if the deaths could have been prevented.
In its hardhitting 48 page report the government watchdog concluded: “There are serious failures in the services provided to children who need help and protection in Lancashire.“
•Services for children who need help and protection is “inadequate”
•Leadership, management and governance is “inadequate”
• Services for looked after children “requires improvement” as does its adoption work
• The experiences and progress of young people leaving care is also deemed “inadequate
OFSTED noted all services had “significantly deteriorated” since the last inspection in March 2012 when the authority had been found “good overall with outstanding features”.
It had reviewed the effectiveness of the local safeguarding children board as well as inspecting services for children in need of help and protection,looked after children and those leaving care. It found the Safeguarding Children Board to be “good”
Significant staff turnover had resulted in an inexperienced workforce and data systems were not working well.
The council issued a statement today saying it had begun implementing a number of changes backed by a new £5m investment and is recruiting new social work and support staff.
County Councillor Matthew Tomlinson, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “The children and young people who need these services deserve the best care and support, and we are very sorry that in some cases they have clearly not been receiving it. The council must now act quickly and effectively to resolve the problems identified during the inspection.”
The opposition Tory group branded the report “shameful”.
Conservative leader Coun Geoff Driver. said: “My concern is the concern every single county councillors should be - to get the service back to what it was before, when it was rated “good with outstanding features” so the children of Lancashire receive the service and protection they are entitled to receive.”