Childrens services close to collapse in Vale of Glamorgan

28 Sep 00
Child support services are close to collapse in the Vale of Glamorgan, according to a report on the council's social services described by one Whitehall official as 'the most damning we have produced so far'.

29 September 2000

The report, one of a series of assessments of social services in England and Wales by the Audit Commission and the Social Services Inspectorate, says that the people of the Vale of Glamorgan have been badly let down by poor management.

Audit Commission controller Andrew Foster said: 'This review shows children's services are close to collapse in the Vale of Glamorgan. In four years and more than 50 major reviews, this is clearly one of the most worrying services we have come across.

'Evidence shows that frontline staff are battling to deliver better services, but have not been served well by the council's top people. While that appears to be changing now, this service still needs urgent attention.'

The report complains of 'inadequate arrangements to ensure children in need were safe and services were available to support families at risk'.

Some services 'were being thinly provided, such as mental health and services for children with a disability', it adds.

'There was little sense of direction for social services from either councillors or senior management,' says the report, which calls for a root and branch overhaul.

The review, carried out jointly with Estyn, the education inspectorate for Wales, adds that there was 'little evidence of positive outcomes for children' from the combining of the social services and education departments in the area.

By contrast, Plymouth social services emerges from its similar review with flying colours.

But the report suggests that several areas merit attention, including under-provision for children leaving care and an over-reliance on expensive out-of-authority placements.

It also says the department could improve services by looking at opportunities to use IT.

Andrew Webster, regional director of inspection, said: 'Plymouth has great ambition and energy and has promising prospects for the future.'

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