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Improvement plan for at-risk Birmingham children still not on track

Improvement plan for at-risk Birmingham children still not on track

🕔08.Mar 2013

kidsBirmingham social services is failing to meet almost two-thirds of performance targets for looking after vulnerable children despite working under a Government improvement plan for four years.

Only 15 out of 41 safeguarding targets are being delivered, according to a leaked council document.

Twenty-six of the indicators are ‘red’ and failing, with the direction of travel in 12 improving and nine declining.

The report will be unsettling to Labour council leaders who have declared the fight to lift children’s social care out of an ‘inadequate’ finding by Ofsted to be a priority.

The department has been subject to Government special measures and working under an improvement board since 2009 after provision for vulnerable children was declared to be failing following several high-profile child deaths in the city.

Last month’s performance figures could hardly have come at a worse time with Ofsted due to visit Birmingham to see whether any progress has been made since the last inspection six months ago, which found that provision still remained inadequate.

The safeguarding scorecard for February will be presented to the Children’s Strategic Performance Board on March 14.

The report suggests the claim often made by the council that social services, police and the health services have learnt from past mistakes and are now working closely together is far from the case.

  • Police attendance at initial child protection conferences fell from 22.6 per cent to 20.7 per cent last month. The target is 100 per cent.
  • Health professionals’ attendance fell to 51.3 per cent.
  • Council education officials managed to attend 71.4 per cent of conferences.

Poor attendance calls into question social services’ latest strategy which is aimed at detecting children likely to be at risk of abuse at a very early stage, intervening with families to prevent problems later down the line. The strategy is only likely to work if all of the agencies commit to attending initial case conferences when potential problems first come to light.

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