Rotherham Council has ‘transformed’ children’s services

29 Jan 18

Rotherham Council has “transformed” its children’s services since a report highlighted a series of child protection failings, an Ofsted inspection has said.

The watchdog has ranked the South Yorkshire town’s children’s services ‘good’ after an inspection in November last year, it was announced today.  

In 2014 Ofsted identified “widespread and serious failures” of children and vulnerable people in need within the local authority’s service. 

A council-commissioned independent inquiry called the Jay Report – also published in 2014 - found there had been at least 1,400 sexual exploitation cases between 1997 and 2013.  

According to Ofsted’s inspection in November’s, the council had made “significant progress”.

The watchdog said: “The quality and impact of services for children are transformed” and the corporate response and associated change in quality of the services was “impressive”.

This comes after Doncaster Council also received a ‘good’ rating for improved care on its children's services by Ofsted, in a report released on 19 January, after years of child protection failures.

In 2009, an inquiry was launched amid the deaths of seven children in Doncaster through abuse or neglect.

An independent trust took control of the council’s children’s services in 2014 after a government takeover.

In its latest report, Ofsted said Doncaster has made “significant progress” to improve services for children and people in need and noted there were no cases where children were judged to be at immediate risk of harm.

The watchdog in the report of its Rotherham inspection stated: “There has been significant progress in the identification and support of children in need of help and protection since the last inspection.

“Risks to children are recognised early and are addressed effectively in order to ensure the children’s safety.

“This has led to significantly more children being identified as in need of help and protection.”

The government took control of the Rotherham authority in February 2015 following the Jay Report.

Some services were returned to local control in 2017.

The report, commission in 2013 and carried out by Alexis Jay, a former chief social work adviser to the Scottish Government, highlighted an estimated 1,400 young people were being sexually exploited between 1997 and 2013.

A separate report by Louise Casey found the authority was not fit for purpose and was failing in its legal duties to protect vulnerable children and young people from harm, resulting in commissioners being sent to run all the executive functions at Rotherham Borough Council.

The report added the council’s culture was one of “openness and transparency” and the staff was dedicated to the protection and livelihoods of children.

In February 2016, Sir Derek Myers, who led the interventions at Rotherham, said further progress was required before full powers could be restored, although responsibility for some services has been returned.  

Following the interventions, the select committee urged the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government to develop a closer relationship with councils to better mitigate the risks of service failures.

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