Child protection in Kent has got better, says Ofsted
PROTECTION of vulnerable kids in Kent has improved according to an Ofsted report out today.
The report has judged Kent County Council's safeguarding children services as 'adequate', an improvement on its 'inadequate' conclusion two years ago.
Inspectors from the watchdog spent eight days with staff at the authority in November, and decided that it is providing 'a service that is doing what is required to keep children and young people safe'.
The report says: "Senior leaders within the council, supported by strong and well-informed political leadership, have delivered a significantly improved response at the point of referral to children's social care services from an earlier low baseline."
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In September 2010, an inspection revealed the department had failed to provide some children within its care with "adequate and timely assessments" which left them "at risk of harm".
Today's report went on to list of how the Council must keep improving standards with goals aimed at speeding the process up and sticking to timescales.
The report also highlighted the need to make clear plans in child protection cases to avoid confusion and delay.
It acknowledged that the authority had difficulty finding experienced and qualified staff, but recognised that it made up for this by appointing good temporary staff instead of employing permanent ones who are not as effective.
The report also credited the authority for identifying staff who underperform and removing them from their posts.
Ofsted praised the department for focusing on helping kids as soon as possible once a problem has been spotted.
It said: "…children who are at risk of harm are protected by effective initial screening and prompt subsequent action by the council and police services."
But it also said that some interventions lacked focus, which led to children being put back on the protection list time and again.
"A significant number of child protection plans end after three to six months before improvements are seen to be embedded and sustainable," the report said.
Paul Carter, leader of Kent County Council, said: "We are enormously indebted to our staff for all of the hard work which has gone into making significant improvements to our safeguarding children's services.
"Despite our significant achievements in raising standards, we are not complacent and recognise more work needs to be done."