Kent councillors discuss 'inadequate' child services

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A report that criticised Kent County Council (KCC) for leaving more than 2,000 children at risk of significant harm has been discussed by councillors.

An Ofsted report, in November, concluded its childcare protection was inadequate in almost every area, following an unannounced inspection.

Ex-Kent chief executive, Peter Gilroy, was asked by the council's scrutiny committee to attend as a witness.

Current officers and cabinet members also attended the meeting.

After the meeting Malcolm Newsam, interim director of families and Social care, said: "We're making good progress and we're where I expect us to be at this stage of the journey.

"The major task at the moment is to tackle some of the fundamental weaknesses in the system.

"The information we gave to the committee and also the council a couple of weeks ago demonstrates that we've started making good inroads into that."

Public apology

The Ofsted report said services for children looked after in Kent were inadequate overall, mainly because of low educational attainment.

Safeguarding services were inadequate because of a high number of children not receiving quality assessments, high case loads for social workers, and inadequate management and supervision.

Conservative council leader Paul Carter issued a public apology following the findings, saying the authority had not been rigorous enough.

In April, KCC announced that more than 30 social workers had started investigating a backlog of 1,000 child protection cases which had no dedicated case worker.

The special team, which was recruited at a cost of £2m, joined another 20 staff who were redeployed to look at the cases from 1 April.

The 50 social workers are expected to take between three to six months to complete the job.

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