Norfolk

Norfolk children's services still 'inadequate' says Ofsted

County Hall, home of Norfolk County Council, Norwich
Image caption Children's services at Norfolk County Council were rated as 'inadequate' by Ofsted after an inspection in 2013

Norfolk County Council has failed to improve significantly services for children in care after being rated "inadequate" in 2013, a report says.

Ofsted again found widespread failings and inspectors discovered 16 out of 1,052 "in care" children did not even have their own allocated social worker.

Inspectors branded services "inadequate" and said care of children needing protection must also improve.

The council said it could take five years to move from inadequate status.

It said it was disputing the allegation children had no access to a social worker, because in 13 cases a team manager had taken charge following the sudden departure of a member of staff.

Leadership, management and governance also required improvement, said the report, despite several new senior appointments being made in the past two years.

The council had "lost touch" with 190 children who had left its care, the report found. Some of them were vulnerable 16 to 17-year-olds and their safety could not be guaranteed.

The council said information was available about these children, but not requested by Ofsted.

Conclusion disputed

On 30 June 2015, 4,534 children were formally in need of a specialist children's service - down from 7,361 at 31 March 2014.

During the same period 522 children and young people were the subject of a child protection plan - a reduction from 537.

"It typically takes three to five years to move from an 'inadequate' judgment and see the impact," the council said.

James Joyce, chairman of the children's services committee, said: "We can't agree with its ultimate conclusion.

"Children are now much safer and better protected than they were two years ago.

"When we came into office in 2013, we had a shortage of social workers, no early help service and more than 100 unallocated child-in-need cases."

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