Middlesbrough children's services 'serious cause for concern'

Middlesbrough Town Hall Image copyright Google
Image caption Leaders at Middlesbrough Council had an "inaccurate view" of the area's effectiveness

Specialist services for children on Teesside are a "serious cause for concern", government inspectors found.

Watchdogs Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission said Middlesbrough Council's provision had "fundamental weaknesses".

Reforms were not implemented effectively but young people felt "safe and well supported", a report said.

Director of children's services Eleni Ioannides said the council would use the report as a "moment of opportunity" to work out how to "do this better".

"We're obviously disappointed that the feedback was negative in part and that we're not meeting the needs of children and families in Middlesbrough as well as we could do," she said.

"Year on year the pressure is growing and, at the same time, demand is rising of course because people are under increasing stress and the squeeze is on everywhere."

'Takes so long'

Inspectors looked at the council's provision for children with disabilities and special educational needs in March.

There were "significant weaknesses in the strategic leadership and governance" and leaders had done too little to improve matters, they said.

Families were not involved enough in deciding what support they needed and too few parents knew how to get help.

Some had needs identified promptly but others had to wait too long.

Inspectors also said leaders had an "inaccurate view of the local area's effectiveness".

However, front-line professionals were committed and effectively met needs, they said.

Claire Edgecomb, whose son has autism and ADHD, said she turned to a local charity for support because "it takes you so long to get anywhere with Middlesbrough Council".

"It took us two years to get my son diagnosed with autism and a further two years to get him diagnosed with ADHD, which is quite a wait for any parent and child."

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