Leeds & West Yorkshire

Leeds children's services improvements praised by Ofsted

Sad youth Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Ofsted reports 'significant improvements' in the way the city of Leeds protects its vulnerable children

The care provided for vulnerable children in Leeds has been praised by government inspectors five years after the services were rated inadequate.

Leeds City Council's children's services department was criticised in 2009 after a serious case review into the murder of toddler Casey Mullen.

Ofsted found that it did not adequately safeguard children in the city and a restructuring of the department began.

Its services have now been rated "good" with "outstanding" leadership.

After its latest inspection in January, Ofsted said there had been "significant improvements" across the board.

"Risk and harm are responded to in a timely, assured and well-coordinated way," the report said.

"There is a robust and well-coordinated response to children who are missing and/or at risk of experiencing child sexual exploitation.

"Children and young people live in safe, stable and appropriate homes and have sustained relationships with social workers and carers who know them well."

Image copyright Ross Parry
Image caption The murder of toddler Casey Mullen was the catalyst for a major restructuring of children's services in Leeds

Its findings are in stark contrast to those published after the July 2009 serious case review into the rape and murder of two-year-old Casey by her uncle Michael Mullen at her home in Gipton in February 2007.

The review by Leeds Safeguarding Children Board said social services were asked to carry out an assessment of Casey's family because of concerns before she died, but had failed to do so.

It said follow-up appointments for Casey were not kept on "a significant number of occasions".

Ofsted reported in July 2009, and again in January 2010, that services in Leeds did not adequately safeguard children. In March 2010 a restructure began and a new senior leadership team was appointed.

Ofsted now says the city puts children and young people "at the heart" of its strategy.

Judith Blake, the council's executive member for children and families, hailed the Ofsted judgement as a "fantastic endorsement".

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